Become a Compensation Specialist in 5 Steps

Explore the career requirements for compensation specialists. Get the facts about the educational requirements, job outlook and salary information to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Human Resource Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Compensation Specialist?

Compensation specialists help companies determine the best salary to offer employees. Typically, they perform research into market statistics, consider different pay strategies and report on their findings. They also make sure their company directly complies with federal and state laws with regard to proper compensation, including minimum wage, equal pay, and overtime laws.

More information on this career can be found in the table below.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Human resources management, labor relations
Key Responsibilities Manage compensation distribution systems, research statistics, ensure compliance with regulations
Certification Voluntary certification available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% (compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists)*
Median Salary (2015) $60,850 (compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Compensation Specialist?

A compensation specialist is a human resources professional who responsible for managing a company's compensation distribution system. They sometimes perform research to compare internal wages with national wage statistics and ensure that compensation practices are in accordance with federal and state regulations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most companies require that compensation specialists have a bachelor's degree in a specific area of study such as human resources management (www.bls.gov).

Step 1: Get a Bachelor's Degree

Bachelor's degrees in human resources management or labor relations are typical degree programs for this career. The BLS reported that due to the diverse nature of human resources professions, completing a liberal arts degree program studying subjects such as behavioral and social science can be useful. Some courses you can take that are relevant to this career include accounting, finance, labor law and management.

Step 2: Obtain an Entry-Level Position

Participating in a human resources internship program can increase your chances of finding work. Some companies offer training programs that allow you to start out in an entry-level position to develop your knowledge and skills. Internships and entry-level jobs can give you experience in the administrative side of compensation work. You can learn about job classifications and benefits administration. You might also be able to interview potential new hires. Once you've gained some experience, you may be able to advance to a compensation specialist position either within your company or at a different firm.

Step 3: Advance Your Education

You may advance your education by completing a graduate certificate or master's degree program. A graduate certificate program in benefits and compensation can equip you to perform functions such as analyzing variable pay and evaluating compensation practices.

Your job duties as a compensation specialist may involve significant time spent reviewing and analyzing government regulations, so a Master of Science in Employment Law can be beneficial to your career. Courses offered in this degree program can give you a more in-depth understanding of federal employment regulations and laws dealing with hours and wages.

Step 4: Become Certified

You may obtain a Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) or Certified Sales Compensation Professional (CSCP) credential through the WorldatWork Society of Certified Professionals. Certification requirements include passing nine exams for the CCP and ten exams for the CSCP credentials. Exams cover topics including compensation management, job analysis, regulatory programs and variable pay. The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans also offers certification in compensation.

What Are Some Alternative Careers?

Many different specializations in management can be found in jobs that require a bachelor's degree. Specialists in human resources work with potential new workers in the hiring process. Training and development managers directly oversee a staff in their field. Buyers and purchasing agents acquire products and services for their company or organization to use for their own company, or to repackage and sell to other companies.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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