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Working as a Benefits Manager

Benefits managers lookout for employees' best interest in organizations. They are hired to manage benefits packages, including pay, compensation, and insurance. Benefits managers also review employee performance to determine which employee compensation plans need to be reviewed. These professionals usually work in the HR department.

As a benefits manager, you may also manage the process of creating, enrolling, and updating employee benefits. You will also be actively involved in performance reviews. Since the goal is to compensate employees adequately, benefits managers may seek to create new compensation plans or improve new ones.

They oversee the process of creating proposals for new plans and highlighting their benefit. Sometimes, benefits managers have to take a holistic view of the organization's current resources to identify opportunities for employees.

To become a benefits manager, you need a bachelor's degree in Human Resource Management. You'll also need to become accredited with an HR practicing board in your state or country. Interpersonal and communication skills are also necessary for this role.

What Does a Benefits Manager Do

Compensation managers plan, develop, and oversee programs to determine how much an organization pays its employees and how employees are paid. Benefits managers plan, direct, and coordinate retirement plans, health insurance, and other benefits that an organization offers its employees.

Duties

Compensation and benefits managers typically do the following:

  • Set the organization’s pay structure and benefits offerings
  • Determine competitive wage rates and develop or modify compensation plans
  • Evaluate employee benefits policies to assess whether they are current, competitive, and legal
  • Choose and manage outside partners, such as benefits vendors, insurance brokers, and investment managers 
  • Coordinate and supervise the work activities of specialists and support staff
  • 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 budget

Although some managers administer both the compensation and benefits programs in an organization, other managers—particularly at large organizations—often 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.

In addition to their administrative responsibilities, compensation and benefits managers also have technical and analytical duties. For example, they may perform complex 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 its 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 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 includes 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 must frequently monitor government regulations and market trends to ensure that their programs are current, competitive, and legal.

How To Become a Benefits Manager

Candidates need a combination of education and related work experience to become a compensation and benefits manager.

Education

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.

Some 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. Managers often specialize in either compensation or benefits, depending on the type of experience they gain in previous jobs. For example, compensation and benefits 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. 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 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 must analyze data on salaries and the cost of benefits, and 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 must direct staff, give presentations, and work with colleagues. For example, they may present the advantages of a certain pay scale to management and address any concerns.

Decisionmaking skills. Compensation and benefits managers 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 must prepare clearly written informational materials on compensation and benefits plans for an organization’s employees. They must also clearly convey recommendations in written reports.

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Average Salary$63,572
Job Growth Rate3%

Benefits Manager Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Benefits Manager

Benefits Managers in America make an average salary of $63,572 per year or $31 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $85,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $47,000 per year.
Average Salary
$63,572

Best Paying Cities

City
Average Salary
New York, NY
Salary Range65k - 102k$82k$82,170
Boston, MA
Salary Range65k - 99k$81k$81,228
Newark, NJ
Salary Range63k - 98k$79k$78,965
Arlington, VA
Salary Range61k - 99k$78k$78,465
San Francisco, CA
Salary Range62k - 93k$76k$76,318
Baltimore, MD
Salary Range60k - 95k$76k$75,895
$34k
$102k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Benefits Manager
Benefits Manager
Vaco
Vaco
01/28/2021
01/28/2021
$87,65401/28/2021
$87,654
Manager, Benefits & Leave
Manager, Benefits & Leave
YMCA of Greater Cleveland
YMCA of Greater Cleveland
01/23/2021
01/23/2021
$50,00001/23/2021
$50,000
Benefits Manager
Benefits Manager
City of Racine
City of Racine
01/23/2021
01/23/2021
$73,29501/23/2021
$73,295
Benefit Manager
Benefit Manager
Robert Half
Robert Half
01/23/2021
01/23/2021
$60,00001/23/2021
$60,000
Payroll and Benefits Manager
Payroll and Benefits Manager
Robert Half
Robert Half
01/15/2021
01/15/2021
$70,00001/15/2021
$70,000
See More Recent Salaries

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Benefits Manager Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Benefits Manager. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Benefits Manager Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Benefits Manager resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

Benefits Manager Demographics

Gender

female

70.3 %

male

25.3 %

unknown

4.4 %

Ethnicity

White

67.8 %

Black or African American

12.9 %

Hispanic or Latino

11.6 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

63.5 %

French

5.8 %

German

4.8 %
See More Demographics

Benefits Manager Education

Majors

Business
34.5 %

Degrees

Bachelors

46.8 %

Masters

20.1 %

High School Diploma

11.1 %

Top Colleges for Benefits Managers

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

2. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,948
Enrollment
17,238

3. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN • Public

In-State Tuition
$14,760
Enrollment
31,451

4. SUNY College at Oswego

Oswego, NY • Public

In-State Tuition
$8,440
Enrollment
7,039

5. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

6. Baylor University

Waco, TX • Private

In-State Tuition
$45,542
Enrollment
14,159

7. Ball State University

Muncie, IN • Public

In-State Tuition
$9,896
Enrollment
15,529

8. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

9. Villanova University

Villanova, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,308
Enrollment
6,819

10. San Diego State University

San Diego, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$7,488
Enrollment
30,018
See More Education Info
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Benefits Manager

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 8.4% of benefits managers listed benefit plans on their resume, but soft skills such as leadership skills and analytical skills are important as well.

Best States For a Benefits Manager

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a benefits manager. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, New York, Massachusetts, and Maine. Benefits managers make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $87,046. Whereas in New York and Massachusetts, they would average $82,092 and $81,203, respectively. While benefits managers would only make an average of $79,251 in Maine, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Massachusetts

Total Benefits Manager Jobs:
135
Highest 10% Earn:
$120,000
Location Quotient:
1.43
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Rhode Island

Total Benefits Manager Jobs:
17
Highest 10% Earn:
$115,000
Location Quotient:
1.7
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Alaska

Total Benefits Manager Jobs:
6
Highest 10% Earn:
$115,000
Location Quotient:
1.17
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Benefits Manager Employers

1. Aetna
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$72,521
Benefits Managers Hired: 
71+
2. CareMedic Systems, Inc.
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$73,199
Benefits Managers Hired: 
70+
3. Express Scripts
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$72,522
Benefits Managers Hired: 
51+
4. CVS Holdings Inc
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$72,520
Benefits Managers Hired: 
43+
5. Connextions
3.8
Avg. Salary: 
$64,867
Benefits Managers Hired: 
34+
6. CVS Health
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$72,524
Benefits Managers Hired: 
26+

Benefits Manager Videos

Updated October 2, 2020