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Compensation and benefits managers are responsible for planning, directing, and/or coordinating an organization's pay system and employee benefits programs. In some organizations, usually larger ones, the job functions are split into separate positions:

  • Compensation Manager - manages the compensation systems 
  • Employee Benefits Manager - manages benefits activities
  • Compensation Specialists - have expertise in different areas such as pay scales, salary structures and performance evaluation systems

Compensation and Benefits Schools

The standard education requirement for compensation and benefits managers is a bachelor's degree. Although it is possible to get a job as a compensation and benefits manager without a college degree, almost all managers hold at least a bachelor's degree and many have master's or doctoral degrees. Those who seek top management positions should strive for a master's degree. The most common majors of focus include:

  • Human resources
  • Business administration
  • Business management
  • Finance
  • Labor relations

College coursework useful for this field includes courses in business law and administration, finance, economics, computer science, and accounting. A background in law is also desirable, as managers to an increasing extent are required to interpret the growing number of laws and regulations governing employee benefits and salaries.

Compensation and Benefits Certifications

Certification is generally not required for compensation and benefits manager positions; however, some employers prefer it. It is safe to say that certification can only enhance career opportunities as well as professional growth. There are many professional certifications available to compensation and benefits managers and specialists. Some of the more prominent ones are the following:

  • The World at Work Society of Certified Professionals awards a Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) designation to candidates who successfully take and pass an exam on the practice and theory of compensation. This same organization also confers the Certified Benefits Professional (CBP), Global Remuneration Professional (GRP), and Work-Life Certified Professional (WLCP) certifications to qualified candidates.
  • The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans confers a certification with three distinct areas of specialization: group benefits, retirement, and compensation. The Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBP) designation is awarded in one or more of the specialty tracks to individuals who complete a series of college-level courses and pass qualifying exams.
  • The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) Certification Institute offers certification in the learning and performance field which addresses nine areas of expertise. In order to earn this certification, individuals must possess a certain amount of work experience and also pass a knowledge-based exam.
  • The Society for Human Resource Management offers two certifications: the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). These certifications require both work experience and a passing score on a comprehensive exam.
  • International Public Management Association for Human Resources offers two certifications. They are the IPMA-Certified Professional (IPMA-CP) and the IPMA-Certified Specialist (IPMA-CS) certifications. 

Resources for Compensation and Benefits Managers

Most Popular Industries for
Compensation and Benefits Managers

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Business Management 6,270 16% $94,230
Professional And Technical Services 4,500 11% $92,680
Government 3,440 8% $79,020
Banking And Credit 2,030 5% $90,600
Insurance 1,840 4% $91,710
Education 1,370 3% $86,900
Hospital 1,330 3% $86,120
Medical Office 1,300 3% $77,010
Electronics And Computer 990 2% $100,210
Office Services And Staffing 970 2% $87,540
Chemicals 970 2% $92,110
Securities And Investment 790 2% $100,240
Non-profit 780 2% $77,200
Metal Products 760 1% $68,970
Machinery 760 1% $79,690
Nursing And Residential Care 750 1% $61,260
Traditional Publishing 660 1% $93,350
Durable Goods Wholesale 570 1% $98,550
Real Estate 530 1% $89,960
Social Service 510 1% $66,110
Hotel And Accomodation 480 1% $67,510
Plastics And Rubber 430 1% $74,280
Non-durable Goods Wholesale 410 1% $94,800
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Compensation and Benefits Managers.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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