Who exactly is an Onboarding Specialist? (Salary, Job Description, Skills)

Being the new one sucks.—Except when there’s an onboarding specialist in the room.

Whether it is for customers or employees, onboarding is a skill you need in every kind of business. I might even go as far as to say that it is the number one need in a SaaS business.

And when the stakes are that high, you don’t trust anyone with it.

You want someone who will understand the state of mind of your customers or employees, someone who will know how to make them feel comfortable working with your company, someone who will execute accordingly.

And that someone is an onboarding specialist.

Who?“, you might be asking. Don’t be shy, it’s not on you. Most businesses don’t feel the need to define the role and simply give onboarding tasks to product managers or HR specialists.

But trust me, you NEED an onboarding specialist. Why?

Let’s take a look.

who is an onboarding specialist

Who is an Onboarding Specialist?

An onboarding specialist is an employee or third party overseeing onboarding in a company. This role can be specified as employee onboarding specialist and can refer to the person in a company overseeing onboarding new hires, or it could be customer onboarding referring to a person handling onboarding new customers.

In other words, an onboarding specialist, especially for SaaS services, is a specialist who takes the customer from the initial signup to the first success, or the employee from being a newbie to a part of the family.

But how? What exactly does an onboarding specialist do?

What Does an Onboarding Specialist Do?

As we discussed above, there are two paths for an onboarding specialist in a company: employee onboarding or customer onboarding.

Although both of these positions deal with onboarding, they tend to differ. A lot.

So let’s take a look at both, separately.

Employee Onboarding Specialist for HR Department

what does an employee onboarding specialist do

Onboarding Specialists working in an HR department have the primary task of helping new employees adapt to the company culture, the working schedule, necessary tools and systems, and of course, the work.

So basically, their job is to make sure new people can do their job properly.

But there is more.

They also need to deal with technical procedures like the hiring paperwork and relaying the company policies to the new employee.

Typically, companies expect HR Onboarding Specialists to have recruiting and human resources experiences. Although not compulsory, a bachelor’s degree in human resources or a similar field would be ideal.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Composing emails informing new hires and existing employees of policy changes
  • Processing onboarding paperwork
  • Explaining payrolls and benefits
  • Coordinating with the IT department to set up new employees with business computers
  • Introducing new hires to their new team members
  • Providing manuals, guidelines, passwords, etc. for the new employees as needed
  • Arranging product, service, or company demos or presentations
  • Answering any queries of new employees about initial tasks
  • Ensuring new employees have the necessary software and hardware 

Some of the typical responsibilities of an HR Onboarding Specialist are as listed above, while it’s important to note that these can vary depending on the company’s needs.

Need more info about HR employee onboarding? You might like the Only New Employee Onboarding Checklist You Need to gather all the necessary cornerstones about HR onboarding. 

Customer Onboarding Specialist

what does a customer onboarding specialist do

A Customer Onboarding Specialist is responsible for onboarding and guiding new users or clients to achieve their first success with the product or service. And by doing so, they are the first stronghold in the fight against the one common enemy: churn.

Thanks to a customer onboarding specialist’s efforts, users/customers start on the right foot and are automatically less likely to churn.

With customer onboarding specialists, customers learn how to use products or services in a simple and effective way. After a successful onboarding, customers take an interest in the service and see for themselves how exactly it brings value to them.

Customers leave for good when they feel there is:

  • No value in the service or product
  • A steep learning curve
  • Lack of interest
  • No balance between cost and effectiveness

So, y implementing the right form of onboarding, customer onboarding specialists make it easier for customer success teams to handle customer accounts efficiently.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Educating customers
  • Setting up customers for immediate success
  • Reducing roadblocks as best as possible
  • Improving product or service adoption
  • Creating a loyal customer base
  • Improving communication between stakeholders
  • Giving customers detailed account directions
  • Recording and solving customer issues, queries, and requests
  • Educating users about the product best practices
  • Company presentations and demos

Some of the many responsibilities of a customer onboarding specialist are as given above, though these responsibilities could change or be completely different depending on the company, industry, and customer base.

onboarding specialist skills

What Skills Are Needed For Onboarding Specialists?

We have discussed “who is an onboarding specialist, ” but there is another key question— what qualifications do companies look for when hiring a customer onboarding specialist?

Although the job descriptions for an employee and customer onboarding specialist differ, an onboarding specialists’ job in a general sense requires the same skills.

Some skills needed for onboarding specialists:

  • Excellent communication skills

Communication is a primary skill required for onboarding specialists. They need to be able to convey the right information in a clear tone. Their interaction with the customer and/or the new employees should be reasonable, correct, and to the point.

 For example, it is not a good practice thing to send out 10 emails to a customer over a simple thing. It annoys the user and disturbs the customer relationship, which leads us to the second required skill; empathy.

  • Empathy

Empathy is one of the core skills an onboarding specialist should develop in order to see more happy customers and customer success at the end of the day. Put yourself in the shoes of a customer; what would you expect from service during the onboarding process? Questions like that help ensure better customer service.

Likewise, if an onboarding specialist can’t recall back when they were first hired and put themselves in the shoes of the new hires, there would be no success in employee onboarding.

  • Extensive Product and Company Knowledge

Another key skill an onboarding specialist needs to have is a good grasp of product qualities and capabilities, along with the necessary technical knowledge. To be able to understand customer problems and touchpoints, having clear communications is a must.

Company knowledge and a clear understanding of the culture are also crucial since an onboarding specialist in HR will be the first person the new hires will run to when in need of an answer about the company.

  • Experience in Web Technologies

Experience in web technologies is essential for an onboarding specialist, especially for SaaS (software as a service) companies. It makes product adoption easy and quick for the customer onboarding specialist as much as for the customers they will onboard.

Likewise, onboarding the new employees to the company systems and tools fall onto the shoulders of an employee onboarding specialist. Thus, technical knowledge in that area is also required.

Onboarding Specialist Salary

The salary of an onboarding specialist varies depending on the industry, experience, level of expertise, the type of company, and more. With that in mind, the average salary for an onboarding specialist is $52,354. 

The average annual pay for an onboarding specialist in the United States is $41,074 per year, $20 per hour.

In the United Kingdom, customer onboarding specialist salaries range between £20,000 – £50,000, while in Australia, the average salary for a customer onboarding specialist ranges between A$58,500 – A$155,000.

For SaaS companies like HubSpot, Keap, and Leadfeeder, the average salary for a customer onboarding specialist is $39,240 per year. (Estimated by Glassdoor based on 52 salaries for this position)

Onboarding specialist salaries vary based on job titles as well. 

For example, the average annual salary for an HR Onboarding Coordinator in the US is $51,839 a year. That works out to be approximately $24.92 an hour.

The following table shows annual salaries, monthly and weekly pays, and hourly wages according to the related job titles in the United States.

Job TitleAnnual SalaryMonthly PayWeekly PayHourly Wage
Onboarding Manager$72,812$6,068$1,400$35.01
Physician Onboarding Specialist$61,640$5,137$1,185$29.63
Onboarding Analyst$61,179$5,098$1,177$29.41
Work From Home Onboarding Analyst$60,891$5,074$1,171$29.27
Work From Home Physician Onboarding Specialist$60,150$5,012$1,157$28.92
Source

How Do I Become An Onboarding Specialist?

Employee Onboarding Specialist

The qualifications you need to become an employee onboarding specialist are to have a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as human resources management or communications, and experience in customer service or HR department. 

As an onboarding specialist, you will be working in an HR setting, which will require:

  • Excellent communication skills,
  • Familiarity with labor laws and legislation
  • Experience in using Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS), and
  • An understanding of employee relations.

Customer Onboarding Specialist

To become a customer onboarding specialist, you will need to have software knowledge and experience in a SaaS-based company as you will be guiding clients through their software setup, goal-setting, and training. 

In this position, it is ideal to have:

  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills,
  • Interpersonal skills, and
  • Strong computer skills

Frequently Asked Questions


How much do onboarding specialists make?

On average, client onboarding specialists make $39,240 per year. Employee onboarding specialists, on the other hand, make $41,074 in annual salary in the United States. The salary of an onboarding specialist may differ based on industry, work experience, expertise, job title, the company, and so on. 


Who is a client onboarding specialist?

A client onboarding specialist is a person who is responsible for guiding and educating new clients, helping solve technical problems and ensuring hassle-free adoption of a product. 

Client onboarding specialists need to be experienced in web-based technologies and excel in communication skills via phone and email as well as interpersonal skills. Their job responsibilities include:

  • Assisting customers with implementation: Some users may not be familiar with technical terminology, and jargon.
  • Giving users detailed account directions
  • Recording and solving customer problems and queries

How much does an Onboarding Coordinator Make?

On average, an HR Onboarding Coordinator in the United States makes $51,839 a year. According to Glassdoor, the national average salary of an Onboarding Coordinator in the United States is $44,456 a year. 

Suzan Çalcalı

Suzan is the Customer Success Manager of UserGuiding, a code-free product walkthrough software that 2000+ companies trust in their user onboarding.

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