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HR Specialist

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What Is an HR Specialist? How to Become One, Salary, Skills.

HR specialists support human resources departments and typically possess a broad range of HR knowledge while specializing in a particular aspect of the employee experience, such as onboarding or administering compensation and benefits packages. Here’s what to know about an HR specialist’s needed skills, salary and how to become one.


What Is an HR Specialist?

An HR specialist supports key human resources activities intended to set current and incoming employees up for success. In contrast to an HR generalist who handles a variety of functions, an HR specialist often has a specific HR function they are primarily involved in, such as onboarding and orientation for new employees.


What Do HR Specialists Do?

HR specialists’ duties can include interviewing and screening job applicants, onboarding new employees, gathering employee records, tracking essential HR metrics, assisting with payroll and administering compensation and benefits.

HR Specialist Responsibilities

  • Assist with recruiting, interviewing and hiring.
  • Facilitate employee onboarding and orientation.
  • Support employees in managing their compensation and benefits packages.
  • Collect and maintain employee records.
  • Answer employee questions.
  • Track HR metrics.

Types of HR Specialist

An HR specialist often focuses on a particular human resources function. These are some of the most common areas for them to specialize in:

  • Recruiting
  • Onboarding
  • Training and development
  • Compensation and benefits

HR Specialists Within a Company

An HR specialist is usually part of a human resources department or people team. They may work closely with an HR coordinator who supports their job functions and generally report to an HR manager or HR director.

Importance of HR Specialists

HR specialists are crucial to filling open jobs and maintaining company productivity. Their job supports a healthy workplace, ensuring employees are satisfied and successful.

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What Skills Are Needed to Be an HR Specialist?

Qualifications to Be an HR Specialist

  • Experience with a variety of HR functions.
  • Understanding of HR best practices.
  • Knowledge of relevant laws and regulations.
  • Ability to maintain financial and employee documentation.
  • Understanding of how to track and use key HR metrics.
  • Familiarity with HR tools and software.

HR Specialist Prerequisites

  • A bachelor’s degree in human resources or a related field.
  • Professional certifications in recruiting and other human resources areas.

HR Specialist Hard Skills

  • Record keeping.
  • Administering compensation and benefits programs.
  • Tracking HR metrics.
  • Screening and background checking job applicants.
  • Adhering to HR laws and regulations.
  • Using HR tools.

HR Specialist Soft Skills

  • Patience for communicating with employees and answering their questions.
  • Maintaining employee confidentiality.
  • Problem-solving mindset.
  • Collaborating within a team.

Tools and Programs HR Specialists Use

  • HR management platforms like BambooHR, Namely and Workday.
  • Tools like Culture Amp and Officevibe for employee engagement and collecting feedback.
  • Applicant tracking systems such as Greenhouse and ADP. 
  • Communication and collaboration platforms such as Slack, Zoom and Google Workspace.
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How to Become an HR Specialist

HR Specialist Education and Experience

An HR specialist usually has a bachelor’s degree in human resources or another relevant field, such as business or communications. They also typically possess at least one to two years of prior human resources experience. Pursuing professional certifications from organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management can also boost an HR specialist’s resume and prepare them for the next step in their career.

HR Specialist Certificates and Courses

HR Specialist Career Path

An entry-level role such as HR assistant can provide the necessary experience for becoming an HR specialist. The next likely step in the career path would be HR manager.


HR Specialist Salary and Job Outlook

As of 2021, there were 782,800 professionals employed as HR specialists. That number is projected to jump up to more than 841,000 by 2031, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The full compensation package for an HR specialist depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to the candidate’s experience and geographic location. See below for detailed information on the average HR specialist salary.


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