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Human Resources Specialists

At a Glance

  • Have good communication skills
  • Usually work a set schedule
  • Some travel to meet with job applicants
  • Most have a bachelor's degree
  • Some are certified

Career summary

Human resources specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place qualified job applicants.

Human resources specialists do tasks in all areas of human resources. They recruit potential job applicants, review employment applications, and conduct background checks and interviews. When applicants are hired they process the paperwork, conduct employee orientations, and explain details, such as policies and procedures. Specialists may also address employee relations issues, process payroll, and administer benefits.

Human resources specialists may focus in one or more areas including:

Employment interviewers

Employment interviewers interview potential job applicants for openings. They then refer qualified applicants to employers.

Labor relations specialists

Labor relations specialists handle all aspects of a labor contract. This contract covers issues such as wages and salaries, employee welfare, health care, pensions, and union and management practices. They also handle work complaints.

Placement specialists

Placement specialists help employers find qualified employees. They search for potential job applicants who have the skills, education, and work experience needed for jobs. They then try to place qualified applicants with employers.

Recruitment specialists

Recruitment specialists search for and screen potential job applicants. They search for job applicants by posting job listings, going to job fairs, and visiting college campuses. They also may test applicants, contact references, and make job offers.

All human resources specialists must maintain current knowledge of federal, state, and local guidelines and laws.

Related careers

This career is part of the Business Management and Administration cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to human resources specialists.

Common work activities

Human resources specialists perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, human resources specialists:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Human resources specialists frequently:

It is important for human resources specialists to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for human resources specialists to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Human resources specialists need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a human resources specialist, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Most employers prefer to hire college graduates, but a degree is not always necessary. Although candidates with a high school diploma may qualify for some interviewing and recruiting positions, employers usually require several years of related work experience as a substitute for education.

Some positions, such as human resources generalists, may require work experience in addition to a degree.

Work experience

Work experience involving close contact with the public can qualify you for some jobs. Candidates often gain experience as human resources assistants, in customer service positions, or in other related jobs.

On-the-job training

Many employers provide training for new specialists. One of the first things you learn about is the company's policies and work place practices. In addition, you observe experienced workers as they complete paper work, and make contacts with employers and job seekers. Training may last up to three months.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to be recruiting specialists. Training lasts four to six weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training is on the job.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link).

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers often prefer to hire college graduates. Work experience can sometimes be substituted for college education. Many employers prefer applicants who have knowledge of human resources programs, employment laws, and human resources information systems.

In addition, employers look for applicants who can speak and write well. Specialists must be able to deal with conflicting points of view and work well under pressure. In addition, employers look for applicants who have a persuasive, friendly personality.

Costs to workers

Some workers join professional associations, which may have membership fees and annual dues.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Human resources specialists (SOC 13-1071)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $20.06 $24.94 $31.59 $41.91 $55.17
Monthly $3,476 $4,322 $5,475 $7,263 $9,561
Yearly $41,730 $51,870 $65,710 $87,180 $114,760
    Bellingham Hourly $18.53 $22.39 $27.43 $34.13 $39.97
Monthly $3,211 $3,880 $4,754 $5,915 $6,927
Yearly $38,537 $46,557 $57,064 $70,994 $83,137
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $21.82 $26.88 $34.31 $43.80 $51.14
Monthly $3,781 $4,658 $5,946 $7,591 $8,863
Yearly $45,391 $55,916 $71,372 $91,099 $106,374
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $17.38 $21.36 $24.71 $33.48 $44.00
Monthly $3,012 $3,702 $4,282 $5,802 $7,625
Yearly $36,146 $44,416 $51,400 $69,622 $91,508
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $20.49 $25.56 $36.31 $49.88 $62.28
Monthly $3,551 $4,430 $6,293 $8,644 $10,793
Yearly $42,618 $53,153 $75,521 $103,748 $129,541
    Longview Hourly $14.86 $19.54 $26.82 $31.69 $39.58
Monthly $2,575 $3,386 $4,648 $5,492 $6,859
Yearly $30,908 $40,650 $55,789 $65,920 $82,333
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $18.89 $22.66 $27.74 $34.61 $39.87
Monthly $3,274 $3,927 $4,807 $5,998 $6,909
Yearly $39,279 $47,144 $57,697 $71,984 $82,922
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $22.78 $26.87 $31.18 $34.42 $41.19
Monthly $3,948 $4,657 $5,403 $5,965 $7,138
Yearly $47,388 $55,892 $64,865 $71,602 $85,690
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $20.92 $26.36 $34.02 $45.59 $59.77
Monthly $3,625 $4,568 $5,896 $7,901 $10,358
Yearly $43,516 $54,836 $70,759 $94,819 $124,302
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $16.90 $21.05 $26.86 $33.04 $42.90
Monthly $2,929 $3,648 $4,655 $5,726 $7,435
Yearly $35,156 $43,780 $55,864 $68,725 $89,229
    Vancouver Hourly $19.56 $23.91 $29.81 $38.50 $48.92
Monthly $3,390 $4,144 $5,166 $6,672 $8,478
Yearly $40,685 $49,743 $62,006 $80,093 $101,761
    Walla Walla Hourly $21.36 $25.01 $31.19 $38.97 $46.39
Monthly $3,702 $4,334 $5,405 $6,754 $8,039
Yearly $44,411 $52,001 $64,872 $81,066 $96,498
    Wenatchee Hourly $18.89 $23.87 $28.25 $34.70 $49.64
Monthly $3,274 $4,137 $4,896 $6,014 $8,603
Yearly $39,281 $49,661 $58,761 $72,167 $103,249
    Yakima Hourly $19.44 $22.30 $26.23 $30.58 $37.10
Monthly $3,369 $3,865 $4,546 $5,300 $6,429
Yearly $40,444 $46,396 $54,565 $63,601 $77,159
United States Hourly $17.44 $22.34 $29.27 $38.52 $50.19
Monthly $3,022 $3,872 $5,072 $6,676 $8,698
Yearly $36,270 $46,460 $60,880 $80,120 $104,390

Wages vary by employer and area of the country. Wages also vary depending on the specialist's level of education and experience. In addition, wages vary based on the type of position.

Human resources specialists receive typical benefits. These include sick leave, vacation, and health insurance. Most also receive retirement plans.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of human resources specialists in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings. 

Employment, Recruitment, and Placement Specialists (SOC 13-1071)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 18,540 19.6% 16.1% 2,660
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 295 12.5% 13.4% 37
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 278 11.2% 8.6% 34
    Benton and Franklin Counties 412 14.1% 15.0% 54
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 629 9.9% 11.9% 75
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 1,041 16.6% 15.2% 141
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 919 10.2% 14.1% 110
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 446 13.7% 14.6% 57
    King County 10,131 25.4% 19.6% 1,599
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 400 10.5% 13.8% 49
    Pierce County 1,440 15.9% 15.2% 194
    Snohomish County 1,362 16.6% 12.4% 185
    Spokane County 903 18.3% 13.9% 126
United States 625,700 5.3% 5.2% 67,700

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand will grow as the employment services industry grows. Many companies outsource human resources to companies that specialize in human resource functions. In addition, companies will likely need more specialists to handle increasingly complex employment laws and health care coverage options.

The need for labor relations specialists will not be strong due to declining membership in unions. Automation has also changed how companies recruit and hire new employees. Online and telephone interviews are more common. This results in fewer positions for human resources specialists.

Job prospects will be best for those with a bachelor's degree.

Other resources

International Association of Workforce Professionals (external link)
3267 Bee Caves Road
Suite 107-104
Austin, TX 78746
International Public Management Association for Human Resources (external link)
1617 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Society for Human Resource Management (external link)
TechServe Alliance (external link)
1420 King Street, Suite 610
Alexandria, VA 22314
Washington Business Week (external link)
PO Box 1170
Renton, WA 98057


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational cluster