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Become A Compensation Manager

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Working As A Compensation Manager

  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Getting Information
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • $127,510

    Average Salary

What Does A Compensation 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.


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.

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How To Become A Compensation Manager

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.

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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Compensation Manager jobs

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Compensation Manager Career Paths

Compensation Manager Demographics


  • Female

  • Male

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Asian

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • French

  • Chinese

  • Comanche

  • Portuguese

  • Ukrainian

  • Japanese

  • Greek

  • Carrier

  • Cantonese

  • Mandarin

  • Korean

  • Italian

  • Russian

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Compensation Manager

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Compensation Manager Education

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Real Compensation Manager Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Compensation Manager Google Inc. Mountain View, CA Jul 02, 2015 $175,000
Compensation Manager Yahoo! Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Jun 01, 2016 $162,947 -
Senior Compensation Manager SONY Network Entertainment International LLC San Mateo, CA Nov 10, 2014 $142,043 -
Senior Compensation Manager Docusign, Inc. Seattle, WA Aug 27, 2013 $140,000
Associate Compensation Manager Google Inc. Mountain View, CA Jul 23, 2015 $135,000
Associate Compensation Manager Google Inc. Mountain View, CA Aug 25, 2014 $135,000
Associate Compensation Manager Google Inc. Mountain View, CA Oct 01, 2012 $130,000
Compensation Manager Yahoo! Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Aug 09, 2015 $125,154 -
Compensation Manager Yahoo! Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Sep 08, 2015 $125,154 -
Compensation Manager Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Palo Alto, CA Oct 15, 2012 $125,000
Manager Incentive Compensation Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. Princeton, NJ Jan 04, 2014 $121,600
Manager, Sales Compensation Systems Citrix Systems, Inc. Fort Lauderdale, FL May 06, 2013 $120,000 -
Manager, Compensation Dover Corporation Downers Grove, IL Apr 01, 2013 $120,000 -
Manager, Sales Compensation S&P Global Inc. Hightstown, NJ Dec 21, 2016 $118,966
Manager Incentive Compensation Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. Princeton, NJ Oct 17, 2011 $117,000
Compensation Manager Nvidia Corporation Santa Clara, CA Aug 19, 2013 $116,281 -
Compensation Manager URS Corporation Seattle, WA Dec 01, 2012 $110,381
Compensation Manager URS Corporation Seattle, WA Jan 03, 2012 $110,011
Manager, Incentive Compensation-Forecasting & MO Sanofi-Aventis U.S. Inc. Bridgewater, NJ Jan 25, 2010 $100,775
Compensation Manager Texas Instruments Incorporated Dallas, TX Oct 01, 2009 $100,000
Manager Sales Compensation The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. (Platts Division) Houston, TX Sep 11, 2013 $95,000 -
Compensation Manager URS Corporation San Francisco, CA Dec 01, 2009 $94,994 -
Compensation Manager Cantor Fitzgerald, LP New York, NY Mar 10, 2010 $85,000

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Top Skills for A Compensation Manager


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Top Compensation Manager Skills

  1. Compensation Plans
  2. Base Pay
  3. Hris
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Managed all compensation plans and initiatives for renowned door manufacturer.
  • Design and administration of Base Pay plans - merit process, market matching, structure adjustment, merit matrix.
  • Managed corporate HRIS, payroll and compensation efforts for 2,500-employee regional financial services holding company.
  • Process Improvement and Efficiency: Developed and documented standardized job evaluation process for Compensation team.
  • Provide support to managers and HR partners regarding market based pay decisions, compensation policies and procedures.

Top Compensation Manager Employers

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