Compensation and Benefits Managers

Summary

compensation and benefits managers image
Compensation and benefits managers work in nearly every industry.
Quick Facts: Compensation and Benefits Managers
2016 Median Pay $116,240 per year
$55.89 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation 5 years or more
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 15,800
Job Outlook, 2016-26 5% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 800

What Compensation and Benefits Managers Do

Compensation and benefits managers plan, develop, and oversee programs to compensate employees.

Work Environment

Compensation and benefits managers work in nearly every industry. They typically work in offices. About 1 in 3 worked more than 40 hours per week in 2016.

How to Become a Compensation or Benefits Manager

Compensation and benefits managers need a combination of education and related work experience. Most jobs require a bachelor’s degree.

Pay

The median annual wage for compensation and benefits managers was $116,240 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of compensation and benefits managers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Competition for jobs is expected to be strong.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for compensation and benefits managers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of compensation and benefits managers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about compensation and benefits managers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Compensation and Benefits Managers Do About this section

Compensation and benefits managers
Managers ensure that pay plans comply with federal regulations.

Compensation and benefits managers plan, develop, and oversee programs to compensate employees.

Duties

Compensation and benefits managers typically do the following:

  • Coordinate and supervise the work activities of specialists and support staff
  • Set the organization’s pay and benefits structure
  • Determine competitive wage rates to develop or modify compensation plans
  • Choose and manage outside partners, such as benefits vendors, insurance brokers, and investment managers
  • Oversee the distribution of pay and benefits information to the organization’s employees
  • Ensure that pay and benefits plans comply with federal and state regulations
  • Prepare a program budget and keep operations within that budget

Although some managers administer both the compensation and benefits programs in an organization, other managers—particularly at large organizations—specialize and oversee one or the other. All managers, however, routinely meet with senior staff, managers of other human resources departments, and the financial officers of their organization. They provide expertise and make recommendations on compensation and benefits policies, programs, and plans.

Compensation and benefits managers may perform data analysis to determine the best pay and benefits plans for an organization. They may also monitor trends affecting pay and benefits and assess how their organization can improve practices or policies. Using a variety of analytical, database, and presentation software, managers draw conclusions, present their findings, and make recommendations to other managers in the organization.

Compensation managers are responsible for managing an organization’s pay structure. They monitor market conditions and government regulations to ensure their organization’s pay rates are current and competitive. They analyze data on wages and salaries, and they evaluate how their organization’s pay structure compares with that of other companies. Compensation managers use this information to maintain or develop pay scales for an organization.

Some also design pay-for-performance plans, which include guidelines for bonuses and incentive pay. They also may help determine commission rates and other incentives for sales staff.

Benefits managers administer a company’s employee benefits program, which may include retirement plans, leave policies, wellness programs, and insurance policies such as health, life, and disability. They select benefits vendors and manage enrollment, renewal, and delivery of benefits to the organization’s employees. They frequently monitor government regulations and market trends to ensure that their programs are current, competitive, and legal.

Work Environment About this section

Compensation and benefits managers
Compensation and benefits managers coordinate the work activities of specialists in offices.

Compensation and benefits managers held about 15,800 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of compensation and benefits managers were as follows:

Management of companies and enterprises 24%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 13
Government 10
Insurance carriers and related activities 9
Healthcare and social assistance 8

Compensation and benefits managers work in nearly every industry. Most of these managers work in offices.

Work Schedules

Most compensation and benefits managers work full time. About 1 in 3 worked more than 40 hours per week in 2016. They may work more hours during peak times to meet deadlines, especially during the benefits enrollment period of their organization.

How to Become a Compensation or Benefits Manager About this section

Compensation and benefits managers
Compensation and benefits managers often start out as compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists.

Compensation and benefits managers need a combination of education and related work experience.

Education

Compensation and benefits managers typically need a bachelor’s degree for most positions. Managers usually need a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business administration, business management, finance, or a related field.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Work experience is essential for compensation and benefits managers. Managers often specialize in either compensation or benefits, depending on the type of experience they gain in previous jobs. Managers often start out as compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists. Work experience in other human resource fields, finance, or management is also helpful for getting a job as a compensation and benefits manager.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although compensation and benefits managers are not legally required to be certified, certification can show expertise and credibility. Employers may prefer to hire candidates who are certified, and some positions may require certification.

Certification programs for management positions often require several years of related work experience to qualify for the certifying exam. Many professional associations for human resources workers offer certifications. 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.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Compensation and benefits managers analyze data on salaries and the cost of benefits, and assess and devise programs that best fit an organization and its employees.

Business skills. Compensation and benefits managers administer 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 direct staff, give presentations, and work with colleagues. For example, they may write about and present the advantages of a certain pay scale to management and address any concerns.

Decisionmaking skills. Compensation and benefits managers 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 coordinate the work activities of their staff and properly administer compensation and benefits programs, ensuring work is completed accurately and on schedule.

Pay About this section

Compensation and Benefits Managers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Compensation and benefits managers

$116,240

Operations specialties managers

$112,080

Total, all occupations

$37,040

 

The median annual wage for compensation and benefits managers was $116,240 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $66,150, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $199,950.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for compensation and benefits managers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Insurance carriers and related activities $126,940
Professional, scientific, and technical services 125,650
Management of companies and enterprises 125,190
Healthcare and social assistance 104,800
Government 95,850

Most compensation and benefits managers work full time. About 1 in 3 worked more than 40 hours per week in 2016. They may work more hours during peak times to meet deadlines, especially during the benefits enrollment period of their organization.

Job Outlook About this section

Compensation and Benefits Managers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Operations specialties managers

12%

Total, all occupations

7%

Compensation and benefits managers

5%

 

Employment of compensation and benefits managers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Organizations continue to focus on reducing compensation and benefits costs. Many firms have attempted to reduce costs by introducing various strategies, such as pay-for-performance and health and wellness programs. Organizations will need managers to evaluate and direct these compensation and benefits policies and plans.

Organizations will need the expertise of benefits managers when choosing, updating, and administering their benefits policies. Similarly, compensation managers will be needed to analyze compensation policies and design competitive compensation packages.

Many organizations increasingly contract out a portion of their compensation and benefits functions to human resources consulting firms in order to reduce costs and gain access to technical expertise. For example, to reduce administrative costs, organizations commonly use an outside vendor for processing payroll and insurance claims. These consulting firms can automate tasks and operate call centers to handle employee questions, thereby reducing the need for compensation and benefits managers.

Job Prospects

Jobseekers can expect strong competition for available jobs because compensation and benefits manager positions typically offer high pay, and job openings often attract many applicants. Those who have a master’s degree, certification, and extensive experience working with compensation or benefits plans should have the best job opportunities.

Employment projections data for compensation and benefits managers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Compensation and benefits managers

11-3111 15,800 16,600 5 800 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of compensation and benefits managers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Administrative services managers

Administrative Services Managers

Administrative services managers plan, direct, and coordinate supportive services of an organization. Their specific responsibilities vary, but administrative service managers typically maintain facilities and supervise activities that include recordkeeping, mail distribution, and office upkeep.

Bachelor's degree $90,050
compensation benefits and job analysis specialists image

Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists

Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists conduct an organization’s compensation and benefits programs. They also evaluate position descriptions to determine details such as classification and salary.

Bachelor's degree $62,080
Financial managers

Financial Managers

Financial managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization. They produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.

Bachelor's degree $121,750
Human resources managers

Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers plan, direct, and coordinate the administrative functions of an organization. They oversee the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring of new staff; consult with top executives on strategic planning; and serve as a link between an organization’s management and its employees.

Bachelor's degree $106,910
Human resource specialists

Human Resources Specialists

Human resources specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They often handle other human resources work, such as those related to employee relations, compensation and benefits, and training.

Bachelor's degree $59,180
Purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents

Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents

Buyers and purchasing agents buy products and services for organizations to use or resell. Purchasing managers oversee the work of buyers and purchasing agents.

Bachelor's degree $64,850
Top executives

Top Executives

Top executives devise strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals. They plan, direct, and coordinate operational activities of companies and organizations.

Bachelor's degree $103,950
Training and development managers

Training and Development Managers

Training and development managers oversee staff and plan, direct, and coordinate programs to enhance the knowledge and skills of an organization’s employees.

Bachelor's degree $105,830
training and development specialists image

Training and Development Specialists

Training and development specialists help plan, conduct, and administer programs that train employees and improve their skills and knowledge.

Bachelor's degree $59,020

Labor Relations Specialists

Labor relations specialists interpret and administer labor contracts regarding issues such as wages and salaries, healthcare, pensions, and union and management practices.

Bachelor's degree $62,310
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Compensation and Benefits Managers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/compensation-and-benefits-managers.htm (visited November 01, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.