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Working as a Human Resources Specialist [NOC 1121]

Job Description

Human resources specialists hire, fire, and train personnel, and manage other aspects related to company workforces.

As a Human Resources Specialist you perform the following duties:

  • plan, set up and evaluate staffing strategies including policies, programs and procedures
  • create job descriptions and salary scales
  • recruit and hire employees
  • oversee and lead appropriate training programs
  • advise managers and employees on understanding staffing policies, compensation and benefit programs
  • settle collective agreements on behalf of employers, and act as a go-between in labour disputes and grievances
  • coordinate employee performance and appraisal programs

Source: National Occupational Classification 1121

Industry Overview

In the past few years employers in BC have reported difficulty finding experienced human resources specialists. This is expected to continue as most recent graduates do not have the necessary experience to fill a specialist role.

Employment is the greatest in larger urban areas such as Metro Vancouver, or more remote locations which have large employers.

You will be most in demand if you have previous experience. Formal HR education and a CHRP designation are also preferred by most employers. Employers have an increasing interest in those with the ability to interpret data, prepare and deliver presentations and a broad understanding of human resources trends. You will also have an advantage if you are competent using social networking technologies.

Job Outlook in BC

Human Resources Specialists
Job Openings, composition and forecasted growth

Chart from WorkBC

WorkBC provides job openings in BC regions from 2016 to 2025:

Region Employment in 2016 Average Annual Employment Growth Expected Number of Job Openings
Vancouver Island 800 1.2% 400
Lower Mainland / Southwest 3950 1.1% 1630
Thompson-Okanagan 390 1.1% 160
Kootenay 40 NA NA
Cariboo 80 NA NA
North Coast & Nechako 20 NA NA
Northeast NA NA NA

You can learn more about working in human resources in BC from:

Types of Employers

Human resources specialists work for all types of businesses and organizations. The biggest employers include:

  • public administration (government)
  • professional, scientific, and technical services industries


The median salary for HR specialists in BC is $65,238 a year. Entry-level salaries start at approximately $30,000 to $45,000 a year. However, you can earn $100,000 a year or more as a senior specialist.

You generally receive benefits, such as dental coverage, paid vacation and sick days, and contributions to retirement plans.

Job Bank Canada provides hourly wages for human resources specialists [NOC 1121] in BC regions:

hourly wages by region for human resources specialists

Source: Job Bank, Wage Report

Working Hours

Most human resources specialists work a standard five-day work week, with a minimum of 40 hours per week. In some cases (such as if you have a management position) you may work longer hours during the week and occasionally on weekends.

Sources: Career Cruising, WorkBC Career Profile, Job Bank Canada

Skills, Education and Experience


  • ability to work independently and in a team
  • excellent oral and written communication
  • good analytical abilities
  • strong critical thinking ability
  • excellent problem-solving skills
  • understanding of business principles and procedures
  • work well under pressure

Education and Experience

In order to work as a human resources specialist you need a university degree or college diploma in a field related to personnel management.

Other professional requirements may include:

  • Certification as a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP).
  • hands-on experience that would help you choose amongst the many areas of specialization
  • three to five years of progressive experience in a position related to personnel administration
  • extensive skills in using computer-based management-information systems


This occupation is not regulated in British Columbia.
There are no mandatory requirements for licensing or professional certification in order to work as a human resources specialist in BC.

However, the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation is becoming increasingly important to many employers.

Information about obtaining the CHRP designation is available at:

Sources: WorkBC Career Profiles, Career Cruising

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, trade journals, and electronic sources.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily and the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Available online or in print at the Central Library
    Access at VPL locations only

Online Job Postings

    Find jobs posted on a multitude of company career sites and job boards

 Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a range of different job titles that are relevant.

For human resources specialists, look for these related job titles (from NOC):

  • human resources officer
  • classification specialist
  • wage or compensation research analyst
  • personnel officer
  • employee relations officer
  • employment equity officer
  • job analyst
  • labour relations officer
  • staffing analyst

Source: National Occupational Classification

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of potential employers. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

Since human resources positions exist in many industries, you’ll need to decide what industry you would like to work in, and then find directories for that industry. A couple to try:

  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “human resources” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume (curriculum vitae) and a cover letter. These should identify the position you are applying for and summarize your relevant experience.

Use the library catalogue  to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, use the following guides which are available in print at the Central Library or online:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for human resources professionals in BC and Canada can provide information and assistance. Registration and fees are required for membership.

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession.

Examples at the Central Library: