Human resources professionals (NOC 1121)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Human resources (HR) professionals develop and manage a range of activities for a company. This may include hiring and promoting employees; training and supporting workers; creating labour relations policies, programs and procedures; and laying off or firing people.

Watch the video below to see what a day in the life of a human resources specialist is like.


Human resources specialist

HR professionals work in the private and public sectors, may work for an HR consulting company, or may be self-employed.

Common job titles
  • administrator, staff relations
  • adviser, human resources
  • agent, bargaining
  • agent, business - labour union
  • analyst, human resources policy
  • analyst-researcher, compensation


In general, human resources professionals:

  • Plan and manage staff and labour relations including policies, programs and procedures
  • Oversee programs that support employees and make sure that the workplace is diverse, fair, respectful and inclusive
  • Write job descriptions, occupational classifications and pay scales
  • Hire, promote, layoff and fire staff
  • Develop and deliver training programs, or contract trainers to do this
  • Support management by providing advice on what jobs are needed and how employees can be supported
  • Tell employees about policies, pay rates, benefit programs and union agreements
  • Settle collective agreements on behalf of employers or workers, and act as a go-between in labour disputes and grievances
  • Co-ordinate employee job reviews
  • Oversee programs that make sure that the workplace supports health and safety measures, and put forward changes when necessary
  • Deliver programs that help employees to do their best work and help them to feel good about their work
  • Advise on wage/salary levels and other rewards programs
  • Set goals and make recommendations to senior management about HR efforts in the company
  • Manage HR risk to the company

In smaller companies, often one person handles all HR duties. In larger organizations, there is often a team of HR staff who work in specific HR areas.

Work environment

Human resources professionals generally work a five-day workweek, with a minimum of 40 hours per week.

Better technology means that some HR professionals are able to work from a home office. Technology has also helped HR professionals to be more productive. Examples of this include having a video call instead of an in-person meeting or working together by sharing an online document, allowing each person to access the most recent version of it.

Workers may experience back and neck injuries and eye strain from using computers for long periods of time.

Insights from industry

While there are currently enough people graduating from HR programs, most recent graduates do not have the experience needed for a specialist role—and that means those jobs are in high demand. In the past few years, employers in B.C. and throughout Canada have found it difficult to find experienced HR professionals and HR generalists. This is expected to continue in the coming years until graduates gain the skills needed for these jobs.

HR professionals can work their way up in a business without a formal HR education or a CHRP designation. However, most companies want their HR person to have these qualifications. Employers also have a growing interest in HR professionals who can use technology and who have analytical skills.

People in this career who work for an HR agency may step into a client’s business for a number of weeks or months, depending on the client’s need, or may act in a “consultant” role, supporting HR professionals who work for that company.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Recent graduates can expect to find work as an HR administrator, payroll co-ordinator, benefits clerk, recruitment co-ordinator, HR co-ordinator or HR advisor. Workers with more experience and education may take on roles such as HR generalist, senior specialist, benefits manager, compensation specialist, training manager and recruiting specialist. Over time, HR professionals can hold more senior roles such as HR manager, HR director, vice president of HR, chief HR officer, or a title that has come into being more recently: chief people officer.

Additional resources

  • Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) of British Columbia & Yukon
  • CPHR Canada