A labor relations specialist is a human resources expert who helps workers and employers negotiate contracts. He or she conducts research on wages, benefits, and working conditions within a certain industry to help management design work contracts. If a dispute occurs between a single employee or union with employers, the labor relations specialist can moderate discussions and help both sides reach a satisfactory conclusion. Most specialists enter the field after receiving degrees in business and gaining several years of experience in particular industries. Professionals may be employed full-time by corporations or act as outside consultants, providing services to many different clients.
A well-trained, dedicated workforce is essential for the success of any business or industry. In order to ensure quality production, company owners must be able to keep employees happy and provide them with appropriate wages and benefits. Competition and the quest for profits, however, can make it difficult to provide workers with everything they want. It is the goal of a labor relations specialist to help workers and employers reach agreements that promote worker satisfaction while making sure the company remains profitable.
Specialists conduct extensive research about competing businesses and economic theory to develop contract standards. When an employee or a collective union feels they deserve better compensation or benefits, they speak with a specialist to learn about their options. The labor relations specialist explains the limitations on their wants and writes a report to present to management. He or she attempts to negotiate deals with business owners and executives, explaining worker requests and outlining the best ways to ensure both parties are satisfied with final decisions.
A bachelor's degree in business administration is sufficient to find entry-level labor relations specialist jobs in many settings. Some employers, especially private consulting firms, prefer to hire individuals who hold master's degrees in management, human resources, or industrial relations. In addition, many hopeful labor relations specialists choose to pursue law degrees in order to improve their credentials and understanding of the legal aspects of their work.
Many professional organizations offer voluntary certification for new workers in the field. Becoming certified is not usually required for employment as a labor relations specialist, though it can broaden job opportunities and ensure potential clients that a person is fully qualified. With experience and proven skills, a respected labor relations specialist may have the chance to obtain an executive position within a company or even start his or her own independent consulting business.