Benefits Specialist Certification

Benefits specialists work to negotiate employee benefit plans and help employees understand their benefits. Read on to learn about certification options and degree programs, including online study. Also, find out the employment outlook for human resources and benefit specialists. Schools offering Human Resource Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Can I Earn A Benefits Specialist Certification?

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) is the professional organization that grants benefit specialist certifications ( The IFEBP offers several certifications. You must complete a specialized program or a number of specialized courses in order to sit for the certification exams.

The certified employee benefits specialist (CEBS) program consists of six required and two elective courses. The six required courses consist of two courses in each of the following specializations: compensation management specialist (CMS), retirement plans associate (RPA) and group benefits associate (GBA). GBA courses mainly deal with healthcare; RPA courses deal with retirement plans; and CMS courses deal with human resources and compensation. The two electives may be chosen from any of the specialties.

GBA, RPA and CMS certifications each require you to complete three courses related to the individual specialty. You may prefer to only become certified in one area rather than complete the entire regimen to become a CEBS. You must pass a qualifying examination in each individual area or an overall CEBS exam in order to earn certification.

Certification OverviewMust take 6 required courses and 2 electives to qualify for CEBS; option to become certified in one area, as opposed to entire regimen
Common TopicsPension and retirement planning, employee healthcare plans, employment law, compensation
Online ProgramsCertification courses through colleges and the IFEBP; undergraduate and graduate programs in human resources and employment relations
Job Outlook (2016-2026)9% employment growth for compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists*
Median Annual Wage (2018)$63,000 for compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Degree Program Should I Pursue?

Degree programs in human resources or labor and employment relations include courses in employee benefits. Undergraduate programs are available in human resources management and graduate programs are available in human resources and labor and employment relations.

In addition to general education courses, typical courses you might encounter in a degree program include pension and retirement planning, employment law, employee healthcare plans, arbitration, compensation, human resources planning, organizational behavior and finance. You may have the chance to complete an internship in labor relations at school-approved business or agency.

Are Online Programs Available?

Certification courses are offered online by some 2- and 4-year schools. They're also available online through the IFEBP, by way of asynchronously presented courses. You're able to access program material online at your convenience. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs in human resources and employment relations are also available online.

What Is the Employment Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that employment opportunity for compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists would increase by 9% from 2016-2026, with job prospects being the best for those with previous human resources experience. In 2018, the BLS determined the median annual wage for these positions to be $60,600.

The BLS reported the median annual wage for human resources specialists for 2018 was $60,880, and the expected employment growth for those positions in the 2016-2026 decade is 7%.

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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