How to Become a Compensation and Benefits Manager in the US

Compensation and benefits management is a sensitive issue in today’s economic times. Employees are looking for higher salaries while employers are looking to minimize costs. Get it wrong and employees will leave your company one after the other.

As such, employers hire benefits and compensation managers to ensure their companies have competitive wage structures and retirement schemes. If you have a good business sense, stellar negotiation skills and a keen eye for detail, this could be the career for you.

The Work

When dealing with compensation, these managers work on the payment structure of employees. They make sure it is competitive with other organizations.

When working on benefits, they deal with issues like retirement plans, insurance policies and leave programs, ensuring they meet the legal standards.

Compensation and benefits managers also perform the following duties:

  • Researching on wages and benefits in the market and making necessary adjustments
  • Liaising with employees to get their views
  • Negotiating with unions and other partners such as investment brokers
  • Mentoring and training new staff
  • Keeping employee payment records
  • Ensuring all compensation and benefits operations are within the budget.


The salaries for compensation and benefits managers in various sectors of the U.S. economy are as shown below:


Annual pay

Oil and Gas Extraction


Securities and Commodity Contracts Intermediation and Brokerage


Metalworking Machinery Manufacturing


Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing


Wholesale Electronic Markets


Insurance Carriers


General Medical and Surgical Hospitals


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Work Environment

Compensation and benefits managers work on full-time basis, from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. They typically work from their offices and spend a bit of their time inquiring with employees.

They use computers and calculators a lot.

Education and Certification

To become a compensation and benefits manager, you need to earn at least a bachelor’s degree in:

  • Human resource management
  • Business administration
  • Business management
  • Finance
  • Economics

Since many employers prefer experienced professionals, you can begin in an entry-level position, such as human resources coordinator or compensation, benefits and job analysis specialist to get familiar with aspects such as finance analysis and human resource management.

Students who are looking for internship opportunities in human resources or business administration can visit Intern Match or

Important Skills and Abilities

To become an effective compensation and benefits manager, you should have;

  • Vast business knowledge
  • Strong math and analytical skills
  • Strong negotiation skills
  • Excellent leadership and decision-making skills
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Good market research skills

Career Development

After attaining the qualifications, gaining the experience and landing the job, you can earn professional certifications to enhance your credibility. Some of the organizations that offer relevant certification programs include;

Also, by becoming a member of these bodies, you will gain access to various career development opportunities, including seminars and training workshops.

Job Opportunities

Any employer will need a compensation and benefits manager. Therefore, you can look forward to working in:

  • Government agencies
  • Charitable organizations
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Local authorities
  • Private and public companies

With vast experience, a professional certification and an advanced degree in human resources or business administration, you can become a human resource manager or progress to become a top company executive.

Finally, the job comes with some power. Imagine being able to determine the amount of money other workers earn! Don’t you want that? The rate of projected employment growth is worrying though. Between 2012 and 2022, there will be about 700 new jobs in this profession, according to the BLS. However, with hard work and the drive to reach this position, there is no doubt you will realize your ambition. Go for it!


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