How to Become a Compensation or Benefits Manager
Compensation and benefits managers determine equitable pay rates.
Candidates need a combination of education and related work experience to become a compensation and benefits manager.
Compensation and benefits managers need at least a bachelor’s degree for most positions, and some jobs require a master’s degree. Because not all undergraduate programs offer a degree in human resources, managers often have a bachelor’s degree in business administration, business management, finance, or a related field.
Many employers prefer to hire managers who have a master’s degree, particularly one with a concentration in human resources management, finance, or business administration (MBA).
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Related work experience is essential for compensation and benefits managers. Compensation managers usually need experience in compensation or another job where they performed complex financial analysis. For example, compensation and benefits managers often start out as compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists.
In addition to experience working with benefits plans, most benefits managers must have strong knowledge of benefits practices and government regulations. Work experience in other human resource fields, finance, or management is also helpful for getting a job as a benefits manager.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Many professional associations for human resources workers offer classes to enhance the skills and credibility of their members. Some associations, including the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and WorldatWork, offer certification programs that specialize in compensation and benefits. Others, including the HR Certification Institute, offer general human resources credentials.
Although not required, certification can show expertise and credibility. In fact, many employers prefer to hire certified candidates, and some positions may require certification. Certification programs for management positions often require several years of related work experience to qualify for the credential.
Analytical skills. Analytical skills are essential for compensation and benefits managers. In addition to analyzing data on salaries and the cost of benefits, they must assess and devise programs that best fit an organization and its employees.
Business acumen. Compensation and benefits managers must manage a budget, build a case for their recommendations, and understand how compensation and benefits plans affect the company’s finances.
Communication skills. Compensation and benefits managers use their communication skills when directing their staff, giving presentations, and working with colleagues. For example, they may present the advantages of a certain pay scale to management and address any concerns.
Decision-making skills. Compensation and benefits managers need strong decision-making skills. They must weigh the strengths and weaknesses of different pay structures and benefits plans and choose the best options for an organization.
Leadership skills. Compensation and benefits managers must coordinate the work activities of their staff and properly administer compensation and benefits programs, ensuring work is completed accurately and on schedule.
Writing skills. Compensation and benefits managers need strong writing skills to prepare informational materials on compensation and benefits plans for an organization’s employees. They also must clearly convey recommendations in written reports.