Labor Relations Specialist

Woman labor relations specialist smiles at camera and sits around a table with a diverse group of employees in a work setting

What you need to know


Labor relations specialists interpret and administer labor contracts regarding issues such as wages and salaries, healthcare, pensions, and union and management practices.

What does a labor relations specialist do?

Labor relations specialists generally work in offices. Some may travel for arbitration meetings or to discuss contracts with employees or management. The work of labor relations specialists can be stressful because negotiating contracts and resolving labor grievances can be tense.

Some of the things labor relations specialists might do:

  • Advise management on contracts, worker grievances, and disciplinary procedures
  • Lead meetings between management and labor
  • Meet with union representatives
  • Draft proposals and rules or regulations
  • Ensure that human resources policies are consistent with union agreements
  • Interpret formal communications between management and labor
  • Investigate validity of labor grievances
  • Train management on labor relations
What skills are needed?
  • Decision-making skills. Labor relations specialists use decision-making skills to help management and labor agree on decisions when resolving grievances or other disputes.
  • Detail oriented. Specialists must be detail oriented when evaluating labor laws and maintaining records of an employee grievance.
  • Interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills are essential for labor relations specialists. When mediating between labor and management, specialists must be able to converse and connect with people from different backgrounds.
  • Listening skills. Listening skills are essential for labor relations specialists. When evaluating grievances, for example, they must pay careful attention to workers’ responses, understand the points they are making, and ask relevant follow-up questions.
  • Writing skills. All labor relations specialists need strong writing skills to be effective at their job. They often draft proposals, and these proposals must be able to convey complex information to both workers and management.
What is the pay?

The average pay for labor relations specialists in the United States was $89,980 in May 2023 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A labor relations specialist’s pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

About 5,200 new job openings for labor relations specialists are projected each year, on average, over the next 10 years in the United States.

Overall employment of labor relations specialists is projected to show little or no change from 2022 to 2032, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Union membership has declined, resulting in less demand for the services of labor relations specialists.

However, their expertise and unique skills will maintain some demand for these workers as union negotiations and contract disputes continue.

How do you become a labor relations specialist?

Labor relations specialists usually have a bachelor’s degree. Some schools offer a bachelor’s degree in labor or employment relations. These programs focus on labor-specific topics such as employment law and contract negotiation.

Candidates also may qualify for labor relations specialist positions with a bachelor’s degree in human resources, industrial relations, business, or a related field. Coursework typically includes business, professional writing, human resource management, and accounting.

Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Human Resource Development.