Benefits Specialist Job Description | Compensation and Benefits Manager Jobs, Salary and Certification (2023)

Compensation and benefits managers, also known as remuneration professionals, are responsible for overseeing employee compensation, compensation databases, job descriptions, benchmark compensation, annual performance reviews, and employee benefits.

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Although the work of lower-level compensation and benefits specialists is generally focused primarily on administrative tasks, the responsibilities of upper-level compensation and benefits managers are more strategic in nature, with these HR professionals involved in the creation and management of compensation and benefits plans. Therefore, the focus of senior-level compensation and benefits specialists is on compensation and benefits as they relate to employee performance, company goals, sales incentive plans, and executive bonuses, among others.

The overall responsibility of compensation and benefits managers is to manage an organization’s compensation and rewards program. Because compensation and benefits programs are designed to attract top talent and retain valued employees, the work of these professionals is a crucial one within a company’s HR division.

Compensation and benefits managers must also ensure that the costs associated with compensation and benefits are in line with the organization’s objectives, culture, and philosophy. As such, the strategic role fulfilled by these HR professionals involves benchmarking, ensuring current documentation, and strategizing compensation and benefits with performance.

Compensation and benefits specialists often enjoy more visibility and prestige because their work is linked directly to the performance of the organization and they therefore work alongside the highest levels of management.

Due to the highly specialized nature of this profession, compensation and benefits specialists work in larger organizations that employ 1,000 employees or more. Otherwise, the responsibilities of compensation and benefits fall to more generalized HR personnel or the finance department.

Job Responsibilities of Compensation and Benefits Specialists

Daily responsibilities and duties of compensation and benefits specialists include:

  • Researching compensation and benefits policies and plans
  • Ensuring compensation and benefits plans are cost-effective and competitive
  • Monitoring and researching compensation and benefits trends
  • Comparing benefits and compensation plans, job classifications, and salaries through data and cost analyses
  • Designing reports and recommendations based on research and analysis for senior executive team
  • Preparing and updating job descriptions and occupational classifications
  • Ensuring company is compliant with state and federal laws
  • Collaborating with outside vendors, such as investment brokers and benefits vendors

Job duties for compensation and benefits managers, organized by HR area, include:

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Compensation

  • Assessing the organization’s pay structure
  • Researching compensation trends and reviewing compensation surveys
  • Evaluating compensation policies
  • Ensuring that the pay practices comply with state and federal laws and regulations

Benefits

  • Administering the organization’s benefits programs (e.g., retirement plans, leave policies, wellness programs, insurance policies, etc.)
  • Researching and analyzing benefits plans, programs, and policies
  • Making recommendations based on data analyses
  • Monitoring government regulations, legislation, and benefits trends
  • Working with insurance brokers and benefits careers
  • Managing the enrollment, renewal, and distribution processes

Job Analysis

  • Writing and revising job descriptions
  • Determining position classifications
  • Preparing and updating salary scales
  • Making recommendations to managers regarding job descriptions, salaries, and classifications

Some organizations assign specialists to all areas of compensation and benefits, (Some corporations have a dozen or more compensation and benefits specialists.) while other organizations have separate specialists for compensation, benefits, and job analyses work.

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Traits and Qualities of Compensation and Benefits Specialists

The characteristics that best support the work of compensation and benefits specialists and managers include:

  • Strong with numbers: Compensation and benefits specialists tend to be numbers-oriented, as this career involves a great deal of quantitative analysis.
  • Analytically inclined: The HR compensation and benefits profession requires professionals with strong analytical capabilities, as they are required to analyze trends, surveys, and spreadsheets as to determine compensation and benefits strategies.
  • Detail-oriented: Compensation and benefits strategies are highly technical in nature, and the work involves a considerable amount of research and the interpretation of data. Therefore, compensation and benefits managers must be detail-oriented as to understand how compensation fits into the overall objectives of the organization.
  • Great communication: Compensation and benefits specialists must be able to communicate effectively with employees and senior executives. They must also be comfortable presenting programs to employee groups and members of senior management.
  • Strong Ethics and Discretion: Because compensation and benefits managers deal with confidential information, they must be stewards of ethics and discrete when it comes to handling sensitive information.

Compensation and Benefits Specialist Education and Professional Certification

Career paths for compensation and benefits specialists are often varied, although most begin with a bachelor’s degree in an HR- or finance-related field. Graduate work for compensation and benefits specialists is often focused on master’s degrees in human resource management or a related field.

Because compensation and benefits specialists must understand the financial ramifications of particular business decisions and about the general financial marketplace, Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Human Resource Management degree programs are a typical pursuit among compensation and benefits specialists.

Many master’s degrees in human resource management allow students to focus their studies on compensation and benefits. Coursework in compensation and benefits within a human resource management master’s degree often includes:

  • Compensation and benefits: strategy and plan design
  • Foundations of human resource management
  • Government and legal issues in compensation
  • Performance appraisals in compensation decisions
  • Pay-for-performance plans

Within the field of corporate compensation, there are a number of subspecialties, such as executive compensation and sales incentive compensation; therefore, compensation and benefits specialists in these areas must also have a comprehension foundation of knowledge in areas such as tax laws, Securities and Exchange Commission requirements, and accounting regulations, just to name a few.

Most compensation specialists move from a generalist to a specialist at the entry- or mid-level point in their careers.

Professional Certification

Although certification is not mandatory for compensation and benefits specialists, it is becoming more commonplace, as it sets a minimum standard of knowledge and allows professionals to be seen as business leaders who are committed to the profession.

There are compensation-related certifications designed specifically for compensation and benefits specialists:

    • WorldatWork Society of Certified Professionals
      • Certified Compensation Professional (CCP)
      • Global Remuneration Professional (GRP)
      • Master Certified Compensation Professional (MCCP)
  • International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans
    • Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS)
    • Compensation Management Specialist (CMS)
    • Group Benefits Associate (GBA)
    • Retirement Plans Associate (RPA)

There are also a number of general HR designations for compensation and benefits specialists:

    • Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)
      • SHRM-CP (certified professional)
      • SHRM-SCP (senior certified professional)
  • HR Certification Institute (HRCI)
    • Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
    • Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
    • Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)
    • Human Resource Management Professional (HRMP)
    • Human Resource Business Professional (HRBP)
    • California Certification for PHR and SPHR certified professionals

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Salary Data for Compensation and Benefits Managers and Specialists

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reported that compensation and benefits managers earned a median salary of $95,250, as of May 2012. Compensation and benefits specialists earned a median salary of $59,090 during the same period.

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The top 10 percent of compensation and benefits managers earned more than $172,450 in May 2012, while the top 10 percent of compensation and benefits specialists earned more than $92,520 during the same period.

The 2013 Human Resources Compensation Survey Report-U.S. by Towers Watsonrevealed the average salaries for the following HR professionals working in compensation and benefits:

  • Compensation and benefits specialist: $101,500
  • Compensation generalist: $81,900
  • Compensation and benefits executive: $232,000
  • Compensation executive: $183,000
  • Benefits executive: $168,200

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FAQs

What do you do as a benefits specialist? ›

What is a Benefits Specialist? Benefits Specialists are an integral part of a company's HR department. They are responsible for managing and administering a company's employee benefit and compensation programs, from retirement plans and health insurance to life insurance and beyond.

Is it hard to be a benefits specialist? ›

No, it is not hard to be a benefits specialist.

While this requires a certain level of interpersonal and communication skills, the role is straightforward and typically without much excess stress. The biggest challenge can be how to find the best solution for each employee in the limited number of benefit options.

What is the job summary of a benefits manager? ›

A benefits manager's role is to design and administer each one of these unique benefit packages, while also researching packages provided by competitors. By gaining this valuable market information, they ensure that their company is offering benefits packages that are fair and competitive.

How much does a benefits specialist make in California? ›

How much does an Employee Benefits Specialist make in California? The average Employee Benefits Specialist salary in California is $69,987 as of October 27, 2022, but the range typically falls between $61,682 and $79,802.

What skills do you need to be a benefits manager? ›

Learning how to become a compensation and benefits manager means developing essential skills, including:
  • Leadership.
  • Analytical and critical thinking.
  • Technical knowledge.
  • Business acumen.
  • Communication.
  • Data analysis.
  • Decision-making.
  • Knowledge of legal policies.

What do I need to know to be benefits manager? ›

For most positions, compensation and benefits managers typically need a bachelor's degree in business, human resources, or a related field, such as social science or psychology.

What is the career path for a benefits specialist? ›

Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists may advance to acompensation and benefits manager or a human resources manager position. Specialists typically need several years of work experience to advance. Although certification is not required, it can demonstrate professional expertise.

How do I prepare for a benefits specialist interview? ›

General questions
  1. How did you hear about this job?
  2. What do you know about our company and current benefits programs?
  3. What interests you about the job?
  4. What is your ideal work environment?
  5. Can you describe your greatest strengths?
  6. What is one weakness you're working on improving?
  7. What are your career goals?

How do I become a compensation and benefits Specialist? ›

If you would like to be a compensation and benefits manager, you'll generally need a bachelor's or master's degree in business or HR and several years of experience in Human Resources. You will need a strong background in finance and statistical analysis, as these are critical when working with salary.

Where does a benefits manager work? ›

Benefits managers work in the company's Human Resources (HR) department and manage the process of enrolling, updating, and distributing benefits.

How can a benefits manager be successful? ›

What Key Skills a Benefits Manager Needs to be Successful
  1. Good Analytical Skills. In order for a benefits manager to be successful in their role, they are required to have good analytical skills. ...
  2. Good Computer Skills. ...
  3. Good Communication Skills. ...
  4. Master Human Resources Software. ...
  5. Be a Good Negotiator. ...
  6. Be Organized.

Who is responsible for benefit management? ›

Responsibilities for benefits management

Senior Responsible Owner - responsible and accountable for programme or project success underpinned by delivery of expected benefits. programme manager or project manager - responsible for ensuring proper day-to-day management with a strong focus on benefits realisation.

Is SDI a good place to work? ›

Is SDI a good company to work for? SDI has an overall rating of 4.2 out of 5, based on over 103 reviews left anonymously by employees. 70% of employees would recommend working at SDI to a friend and 76% have a positive outlook for the business.

What is a benefit rep position? ›

Benefits representatives, also known as benefits administrators, are responsible for the management of employee benefits in all company processes. They must be equipped with excellent knowledge in all benefit programs including retirement plans, insurance coverage, and pension programs.

What benefits do California employees get? ›

Health and Well-Being
  • Health Insurance. Choose from a variety of health benefit plans for you and your family. ...
  • Dental Insurance. Employees and their eligible dependents can choose the dental plan right for them. ...
  • Vision Care Insurance. ...
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP). ...
  • Medical Reimbursement Accounts. ...
  • Long-Term Care.

What are the 3 major skills of a manager? ›

Robert Katz identifies three types of skills that are essential for a successful management process: Technical skills. Conceptual skills. Human or interpersonal management skills.

What are the three 3 broad skills managers need? ›

Robert Katz identifies three critical skill sets for successful leaders: technical skills, interpersonal (or human) skills, and conceptual skills.

What are the top 3 most sought after employee benefits? ›

The most sought-after employee benefits are:
  • Remote work. While Covid has made remote work a necessity, there are benefits for employers and employees alike. ...
  • Healthcare. ...
  • Paid time off. ...
  • Flexible hours. ...
  • Paid family leave. ...
  • Four-day work week. ...
  • Free food in the office. ...
  • Student loan assistance.

How do I start a career in compensation? ›

Career Requirements. To work as a compensation and benefits manager or specialist requires having at least a bachelor's degree. The degree may be in human resources, business management, business administration or finance. The degree may also have a specialization or concentration in compensation and benefits.

What are the 4 mandatory benefits for an employee? ›

Social Security and Medicare. Unemployment insurance. Workers' compensation insurance. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protections.

What does a payroll and benefits specialist do? ›

SUMMARY: Responsible for the overall operation of the payroll processes and functions related to successful completion and administration of the monthly payroll. Also responsible for the administration of employee benefits, provide expertise and insight on employee benefits.

What is the role of a benefits consultant? ›

What is an employee benefits consultant? An employee benefits consultant works as an independent contractor to help companies research, procure, dispense and manage benefits packages. They make work individually or as part of a team to advise the organization's owners about available benefits, vendors and costs.

What should I ask for salary and benefits? ›

Questions to Ask About Employee Benefits
  • Does the company offer health insurance?
  • Will it cover members or my family as well as myself? ...
  • How much of the premium costs do I have to pay for myself? ...
  • Can I choose different levels of coverage? ...
  • What kind of coverage is there for dental, vision and disability insurance?

What does a benefits analyst need to know? ›

Benefits Analyst Requirements:

Knowledge of state and federal laws and regulations with regard to the processing of health and retirement benefits. Experience in managing leave of absence, time-off, and workers' compensation programs. Experience in Microsoft Suite, Excel, Word, and PowerPoint.

Why do you want to be a benefits analyst? ›

The benefits analyst helps attract employees to the company by creating a balanced and appealing benefits program, but there's more to it than just picking perks that employees want. This role has to analyze the current trends, consider costs and find the best products for that specific company.

Is being a compensation manager hard? ›

Compensation managers have a tough job. Making decisions about how much to compensate employees for their efforts often involves 'dancing' between profitability and fairness.

What is the most prestigious certification in the field of compensation? ›

1. Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) Obtaining the CCP designation is beneficial for human resources professionals responsible for their organization's base pay and incentive compensation programs.

Is compensation a good career path? ›

Compensation is a niche career path within Human Resources management that requires some specialized knowledge, including math and analytical skills, Burr said. But for people with the right expertise and interests, there is plenty of opportunity. “If you're good at compensation, the sky's the limit,” Burr said.

Who creates benefits management plan? ›

The Sponsor ultimately owns and is accountable for benefits realisation, but the Project Manager will usually have responsible for producing the Benefits Management Plan, in close collaboration with Sponsor, Senior User and other key stakeholders.

How many compensation and benefits manager are there? ›

There are over 6,472 compensation and benefits managers currently employed in the United States. 63.4% of all compensation and benefits managers are women, while 36.6% are men.

What are the 4 types of benefits? ›

There are four major types of employee benefits many employers offer: medical insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, and retirement plans.

What is meant by benefits management? ›

Definition. Benefits management is the identification, definition, planning, tracking and realisation of benefits. Benefits realisation is the practice of ensuring that benefits are derived from outputs and outcomes.

What does HR do related to benefits administration? ›

Benefits administration typically falls under the responsibility of Human Resources and involves managing health insurance, retirement accounts, vacations, paid time off and parental leave. Providing employees with the right mix of benefits is critical to attracting and retaining talent and creating engaged employees.

What are the 3 main things that a company must consider when designing benefits plan? ›

5 steps to update your company benefits plan
  • Align the benefit strategy with business objectives. ...
  • Aim for global consistency with local relevance. ...
  • Provide core security and increase employee choice. ...
  • Educate employees about the benefits programme. ...
  • Deliver high-performing programmes.
12 Apr 2016

Who is in charge of employee benefits? ›

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is a federal government agency that protects, provides information about, and promotes employer-sponsored benefits packages in the private sector. These protected benefits include retirement, pension, and health plans.

What is the role of benefits name some examples of benefits? ›

Benefits are any perks offered to employees in addition to salary. The most common benefits are medical, disability, and life insurance; retirement benefits; paid time off; and fringe benefits. Benefits can be quite valuable. Medical insurance alone can cost several hundred dollars a month.

What is SDI wage? ›

More than 18 million California workers are covered by the California State Disability Insurance (SDI) program. SDI is a partial wage-replacement insurance plan for eligible California workers. SDI is a deduction from employees' wages. This is usually shown as “CASDI” on your paystub.

How much does SDI in CA pay? ›

Your weekly benefit amount is about 60 to 70 percent (depending on income) of wages earned 5 to 18 months before your claim start date, up to the maximum weekly benefit amount. You must have been paying SDI taxes on these wages (usually noted as CASDI on your paystub).

What is SDI pay? ›

The California State Disability Insurance (SDI) program provides short-term Disability Insurance (DI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) wage replacement benefits to eligible workers who need time off work.

What is a benefit service associate? ›

As a benefits representative, your duties are to develop benefit packages based on job classification and seniority, answer employee questions regarding their coverage, and regularly review these agreements in an effort to develop a more cost-effective plan.

What is a benefit director? ›

A benefits director oversees benefits areas such as health insurance, life insurance, and retirement plans, as well as leave and employee transfers and promotions.

How many hours is full-time? ›

Definition of Full-Time Employee

For purposes of the employer shared responsibility provisions, a full-time employee is, for a calendar month, an employee employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week, or 130 hours of service per month.

How many hours is full-time in California? ›

Full Time in California

According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, working 40 hours per week qualifies employees as full-time workers.

What is the minimum salary in California? ›

The minimum wage in California is currently $15.00/hour for employers with 26 or more employees, and $14.00/hour for employers with 25 or less employees. Some cities and counties have higher minimum wages than the state's rate. UC Berkeley maintains a list of City and County minimum wages in California.

Is payroll specialist a good job? ›

Yes, being a payroll specialist is a good job.

They ensure the hours worked are correct and that the employees are paid on time. The role of a payroll specialist can vary depending on the size of the company they are working for.

Is payroll management a good career? ›

Payroll Specialist is a job which requires you to sit for long hours. Sometimes, deadlines can be really strict. A career as a Payroll Specialist is not suitable for candidates who like to work with design and technology.

Is a payroll specialist higher than a payroll administrator? ›

The difference between a payroll specialist and a payroll administrator has to do with the scope of their role. A payroll administrator, for instance, is responsible for overseeing the entire payroll of a company, while a payroll specialist is only responsible for the department in which she works.

What are the 3 types of benefits? ›

Benefits are any perks offered to employees in addition to salary. The most common benefits are medical, disability, and life insurance; retirement benefits; paid time off; and fringe benefits.

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