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Employment Specialist: Education Requirements and Career Information

Employment specialists offer assistance in matching people with jobs that fit their skills and interests. In some cases, employment specialists work for companies, recruiting employees or developing new human resources policies. Other employee specialists, often called supported employment specialists, provide job assistance to individuals with a physical disability or mental illness.

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Employment Specialist Overview

Employment specialists typically work in the human resources division of a larger company or corporation. These specialists are responsible for new employee hiring processes, including assessing candidates and conducting interviews, as well as developing new positions and roles as needed. Sometimes an employment specialist may recommend training or education for advancement, and they may also implement or monitor human resources policies and procedures in a company.

Educational Requirements

A bachelor's degree is usually the minimum education level required for an employment specialist. Employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in psychology or business administration, with either professional experience or completed coursework in human resource management. Prospective employment specialists should also take courses in organizational development, finance, business writing and communication.

Career Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 2012, there were about 495,500 jobs in the human resources, training and labor relations specialist field (www.bls.gov). Human resources specialists took in an average income of $61,560 per year in May 2013. Training and development specialists made an average salary of $60,780 annually the same year. The BLS also predicted 7% employment growth for human resources specialists and labor relations specialists from 2012-2022.

Supported Employment Specialist Overview

Supported employment specialists provide assistance to individuals with job-seeking challenges due to disability, mental disorder, addiction or other hiring disadvantages. These professionals are trained to assess the strengths of clients and place them with organizations that can both benefit from their work and accommodate their needs. Additionally, employment specialists may run job-training sessions to prepare clients for particular work environments.

Educational Requirements

A bachelor's degree is usually the minimum education level required for an employment specialist, though some employers may accept an associate's degree. Employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in psychology, mental health, human services, social work or business. They also favor candidates who have professional experience working with mentally ill individuals or in employment placement services.

Specialized Training Programs

A number of universities offer supported employment specialist workshops and training programs designed for candidates looking to enter the field. These programs are available at the introductory and advanced levels, both online and on campus, and may culminate in a certificate.

Students in these programs learn to implement job training strategies and programs, assess potential vocational skills and accommodate clients by making customized workplace modifications. They also study legal and ethical issues regarding rehabilitation, disclosure and decision-making. At the advanced level, training programs provide instruction on various strategies to aid clients in learning to support themselves. Students also learn about government incentive programs designed to encourage employers to hire workers with disabilities.

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