How to Become an

Union Representative

The complete career guide to be an Union Representative: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $60,930
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • -7.9%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Fast Paced Career
    Career Attribute
  • Get to Travel
    Career Attribute

People working as union representatives are responsible for voicing their union’s message to all workers and undertaking both external and internal organizing programs, as specified by the union’s executive board and its division directors.


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What is an Union Representative?


The following duties are taken care of by a union representative:

  • Coordinating with committee representatives, members of the executive board and other key staff to create and execute impactful campaigns and overseeing the effective functioning of the union, e.g. training and recruitment of members and stewards.
  • Be the central point of contact for local union leaders that are looking to resolve challenges and provide timely responses to any requests for information.
  • Take charge of the administration of collective bargaining agreements as assigned; share learnings with field staff and management as to accurately interpreting and implementing collective bargaining agreements.
  • Ensure that all activities are in compliance with applicable state and federal laws and keep track of current trends in employment, labor laws, regulations, etc. to update union policies and procedures.

Day In The Life

The main duty of a union representative is to motivate employees towards a better workplace environment. While this tends to show in more straightforward approaches such as strikes and boycotts, union representatives also have the important task of negotiating the best possible agreements between diverse groups of workers and their managers.

Having strong communication skills is a must when your role requires you to frequently interact with disgruntled employees and defensive management. You are responsible for presenting the employee’s case and listening closely to what is being offered by management for resolving conflicts. You will be leading multiple rounds of discussions before reaching the agreement stage. The discussions will revolve around important aspects like medical benefits, work schedules and increases in salary.

Depending on the need, a union representative makes the call to begin a new union group. Groups of workers may seek your opinion regarding whether or not to unionize based on your foundation knowledge. It is a tough decision and a lengthy process to track, since many employers are antagonistic towards unions.

Work Schedule

Union representatives typically have to be comfortable working highly flexible hours that include nights, holidays and weekends. You are to be constantly on the move visiting regular worksites, making home visits and even driving long distance for canvassing. Frequent travel is not unusual and can range from statewide to out of state with some periods away from home. As this is a position of leadership, you need to be very self-assured and monitor the workplace at different points of the day to see how the shop runs. When necessary to drive change, you must organize worker activity during strikes and boycotts or promote petitions.

Growth Of The Job

Union representatives usually start their career in entry-level roles like that of a human resources professional. With sufficient experience overtime, they advance gradually to become a union representative. Some ways to grow in this career path include starting a labour relations consulting firm or switching to alternative job sectors like career counselling, social work or public relations. A master’s degree is sometimes useful in fast-tracking your position as a union representative, since you will only develop practical experience on the job instead of straight out of university.

Typical Employers

More and more organizations are valuing the presence of a union representative that acts as an effective mediator between workers and the company. You can find potential job opportunities with both the public and private sectors. The type of position can be diverse depending on whether it is based at a government agency, hospital, university, manufacturing company or financial institution. Some professionals that are looking for a bigger challenge, prefer to branch out into working as a private consultant or representing smaller unions.

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How To Become an Union Representative

While there is no direct educational qualification that will guarantee success as a union representative, most experienced professionals in this field have completed a university degree in a related subject like business, law, industrial relations or human resources management.

To stand out from the rest of the competition, it is vital that you cultivate skills such as planning and organizing, completing negotiations and interpersonal communication. Since union representatives have to interact with small to large audiences, your personality should be capable, motivational and assertive while respecting different cultures. As with most applied professions, gaining related experience and knowledge of the industry is the best way to orient yourself with this type of role.


Union Representative Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Union Representative salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Union Representative's can make an average annual salary of $60,930, or $29 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $26,470 or $13 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #258 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Highest Education Among Union Representatives

  • 2.3%   Doctorate
  • 15.5%   Masters
  • 42.6%   Bachelors
  • 8.6%   Associates
  • 19.9%   College
  • 10.1%   High School
  • 0.9%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Union Representative job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of -6,500 jobs for a total of 75,600 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a -7.9% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #728 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Union Representatives

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Labor unions and similar labor organizations 62,000 -6,400 -6%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 1,800 -100 0%
Self-employed workers 1,800 200 0%

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