Bureau of Labor Statistics

Compensation and Benefits Managers

compensation and benefits managers image
Compensation and benefits managers work in nearly every industry.
Quick Facts: Compensation and Benefits Managers
2020 Median Pay $125,130 per year
$60.16 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, 2020 18,700
Job Outlook, 2020-30 4% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 700

Summary

What Compensation and Benefits Managers Do

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

Work Environment

Compensation and benefits managers work in nearly every industry. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Compensation or Benefits Manager

Compensation and benefits managers typically need a bachelor’s degree and related work experience.

Pay

The median annual wage for compensation and benefits managers was $125,130 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of compensation and benefits managers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2020 to 2030, slower than the average for all occupations.

Despite limited employment growth, about 1,500 openings for compensation and benefits managers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

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

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

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

Duties

Compensation and benefits managers typically do the following:

  • Coordinate and supervise the work activities of staff
  • Set the organization’s pay and benefits structure
  • Monitor 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 operate 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. However, all compensation and benefits managers routinely meet with senior staff, managers of other human resources departments, and the financial officers of their organization. They use their expertise to recommend compensation and benefits policies, programs, and plans.

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

Compensation managers direct an organization’s pay structure. They monitor market conditions and government regulations to ensure that 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 organizations. Compensation managers use this information to maintain or develop pay levels 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 an organization’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 oversee 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

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

Compensation and benefits managers held about 18,700 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of compensation and benefits managers were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services 19%
Management of companies and enterprises 17
Insurance carriers and related activities 11
Government 7
Healthcare and social assistance 6

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. Some work more than 40 hours per week. 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

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

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

Education

For most positions, compensation and benefits managers typically need a bachelor’s degree in business, human resources, 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 experience they gain in previous jobs. Managers often start out as compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists. Work experience in other human resource fields, in finance, or in management is also helpful.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required, certification gives compensation and benefits managers credibility because it shows that they have expertise. Employers may prefer to hire candidates with certification, and some positions require it.

Certification often requires several years of related work experience and passing an exam. Professional associations, including the Society for Human Resource Management, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and WorldatWork, offer certification programs that may be helpful for compensation and benefits managers.

Important Qualities

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

Business skills. These managers oversee a budget, build a case for their recommendations, and understand how compensation and benefits plans affect an organization’s finances.

Communication skills. Compensation and benefits managers direct staff, give presentations, and work with colleagues. With each of these groups, they must be able to clearly explain concepts and respond to concerns.

Decisionmaking skills. These 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 activities of their staff and administer compensation and benefits programs, ensuring that the work is completed accurately and on schedule.

Pay

Compensation and Benefits Managers

Median annual wages, May 2020

Compensation and benefits managers

$125,130

Operations specialties managers

$125,040

Total, all occupations

$41,950

 

The median annual wage for compensation and benefits managers was $125,130 in May 2020. 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 $70,920, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for compensation and benefits managers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Management of companies and enterprises $134,830
Professional, scientific, and technical services 132,560
Insurance carriers and related activities 128,830
Healthcare and social assistance 118,420
Government 100,650

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

Job Outlook

Compensation and Benefits Managers

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Operations specialties managers

12%

Total, all occupations

8%

Compensation and benefits managers

4%

 

Employment of compensation and benefits managers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2020 to 2030, slower than the average for all occupations.

Despite limited employment growth, about 1,500 openings for compensation and benefits managers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

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

However, organizations may 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 automate tasks and operate call centers to handle employee questions, thereby reducing the need for compensation and benefits managers.

Employment projections data for compensation and benefits managers, 2020-30

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

Occupational Title

Compensation and benefits managers

SOC Code11-3111
Employment, 202018,700
Projected Employment, 203019,400
Percent Change, 2020-304
Numeric Change, 2020-30700
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) 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

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 2020 MEDIAN PAY
Administrative services managers Administrative Services and Facilities Managers

Administrative services and facilities managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities that help an organization run efficiently.

Bachelor's degree $98,890
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Bachelor's degree $67,190
Financial managers Financial Managers

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Bachelor's degree $134,180
Human resources managers Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers plan, coordinate, and direct the administrative functions of an organization.

Bachelor's degree $121,220
Human resource specialists Human Resources Specialists

Human resources specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They also handle employee relations, compensation and benefits, and training.

Bachelor's degree $63,490
Labor Relations Specialists

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Bachelor's degree $73,240
Purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents

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

Bachelor's degree $72,270
Top executives Top Executives

Top executives plan strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals.

Bachelor's degree $107,680
Training and development managers Training and Development Managers

Training and development managers plan, coordinate, and direct skills- and knowledge-enhancement programs for an organization’s staff.

Bachelor's degree $115,640
training and development specialists image Training and Development Specialists

Training and development specialists plan and administer programs that improve the skills and knowledge of their employees.

Bachelor's degree $62,700

Contacts for More Info

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Compensation and Benefits Managers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/compensation-and-benefits-managers.htm (visited October 15, 2021).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

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