How to Become an Employee Relations Officer


Employee relations managers are human resources specialists that meet with company management on behalf of workers, and vice-versa, to negotiate contracts, wages, employee grievances and company policy.


A career in this field is likely an excellent choice for someone has a good temperament, a good understanding of human resources, and is looking for a 9-5, office-based job that involves clear guidelines for work.



Steps for Becoming an Employee Relations Officer

Step 1: Figure out if you have the right qualities for a career in this field

Step 2: Get educated - a degree in human resources will be your best bet

Step 3: Get relevant work experience under your belt

Step 4: Hone your skills, and advance your career



Are You Well-Suited for This Career?

Becoming an employee relations specialist might be an excellent career choice for you if you have the following traits and qualities:


• You’re organized and resourceful 

• You’re interested in the rights of union workers and collective bargaining strategies

• You’re skilled in understanding and explaining labor contracts

• You want a 9-5 office based career, with clear rules and procedures

• You have a high level of professionalism and can be comfortable working under stress, and in tense interpersonal situations





Education You’ll Need

For these roles, employers typically prefer candidates that have a college or university degree in Human Resources, Business, Labor Relations or a similar field.



Experience You Might Need

While not necessarily considered mandatory (depending on the job you’re applying for) employers will likely also want to see that you’ve worked in roles that relate to the work you’ll be doing as an employee relations specialist.


For example, many employers prefer to hire candidates that have previous experience as an HR assistant, personnel assistant, or at least some customer service experience.


Success Tip: Your best bet for getting hired is a combination of a relevant education and work experience in roles of progressive responsibility.



Crucial Skills You’ll Need

The set of skills you’ll need to execute your job duties with competence and effectiveness includes (but are not limited to):


• Proficiency with MS Office (Outlook, Excel, Word, PowerPoint)

• The ability to manage conflict and diffuse difficult situations

• The ability to remain calm and professional when tense situations can’t be defused 

• Excellent verbal and written communication skills, including professional telephone etiquette

• The ability to multitask including simultaneously conducting and documenting a conversation

• Ability to manage fluctuating workload and time pressure, work independently as well as in a team

• The ability to handle confidential and sensitive information with discretion

• The ability to review and interpret contracts with attention to detail 

• A firm understanding of pension funds, healthcare policies and union politics





More About This Career - General Job Description

Employee relations officers are human resources specialists that serve as a liaison between the employees and the management of an organization. The goal of these specialists is to keep their company's or agency's labor force as satisfied and productive as possible.



What Their Typical Responsibilities Are

Although their duties can vary from job to job, employee relations officers are typically responsible for the following:


• Assisting management in preparation for employee negotiations (or vice-versa) by providing background information

• Helping investigate and resolve employee complaints and grievances

• Assisting management and employees avoid costly legal battles by resolving disputes

• Researching regulations pertaining to employee rights, safety codes, wages, hours and fair employment practices

• Recommending changes to employment policies pertaining to employee rights, safety codes, wages, hours and fair employment practices

• Coordinating employee appraisal and evaluation programs

• Interpreting management proposals for union representatives elected by the members of a worker’s union



Who Employs Them

Employee relations officers are hired by public sector and private organizations of all sizes, and across industries. They are of particular value to organizations that also hire union-based labour. Jobs for them can also be found with labour unions.



How Much You Could Earn

There are several variable that affect how much you could earn in this profession. For example, your salary would be dependent on:


• Your level of education, experience, and certification

• Your employment structure (i.e., full-time, part-time, etc.)

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you will be working

• The scope of job duties and functions to be performed 

• Other possible factors


Salary - Canada (Alberta figures only): According to the 2017 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the average salary level of Albertans working in the Human resources and recruitment officers occupational group is $68,758 per year. The survey also reports that the average starting wages for this group are $28.87 per hour, and the top 5% are $47.51.


Unfortunately, at the time of writing (June 7, 2019) there were no figures available from reliable sources for the rest of Canada.


Salary - United States: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean salary level of Americans working in the Human Resources Specialists occupational group is $60,880 is per year (May, 2018 figures). The report also states that the lowest 10 percent of salaries in this group were below $36,270, and the highest 10 percent were more than $104,390 per year.



Employee Relations Officer Job Opportunities

Take a look at our job board below to see if there are any opportunities to get your foot in the door with an employer, or gain some relevant work experience.



Work Environment

Employee relations officers typically work standard 9-5 weekday business hours. Their work might involve overtime on occasion, but is generally considered rare or optional in this field.


They might be required to travel on occasion, in order to attend conferences, meetings or visit other company branches or facilities.


Their work can be stressful at times, because negotiating contracts and resolving labour grievances and disputes can be tense.



Career Advancement Possibilities

Employee relations officers who possess a thorough knowledge of their organization, as well as an understanding of regulatory compliance needs, can advance to supervisory or management positions, either with their current employer or an outside employer.


Success Tip: Consider getting relevant industry certification as you progress throughout your career to increase chance of advancement, and possibly your level of pay.


How to Become an Employee Relations Officer


Similar Occupational Profiles in Our Database

Below is a list of careers in our database that are most similar in nature to ‘Employee Relations Officer’, in that they’re in the same field, or they involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities:


Compensation and Benefits Coordinator 

Human Resources Coordinator 

Human Resources Manager

Labour Market Analyst

Office Manager





Please consult the following resources to learn more about this profession:


• Occupations in Alberta: “Human Resources Professional.” (April 1, 2017). Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved June 7, 2019.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Human Resources Specialist.” (April 12, 2019). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved June 7, 2019.

• Careers Advice- Job Descriptions: “Employer Relations Officer.” (n.d.). GradIreland. Retrieved June 7, 2019.

• Career Profile: “Labor Relations Specialist.” (n.d.). Truity Retrieved June 7, 2019.



Scholarships for Relevant Fields of Study 

The 'Relevant Fields of Study' section below lists areas of academic focus that pertain to this career. Scholarships matched to those fields of study can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.



Relevant Fields of Study for Becoming an Employee Relations Specialist

Studying one of the university majors listed below will serve as an excellent educational foundation for becoming an Employee Relations Officer. 


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