Benefits Specialist: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for benefits specialists. Get the facts about job duties, education and certification requirements, and average salary 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 Benefits Specialist?

A benefits specialist helps employees with their insurance and retirement plans and assists companies in putting together benefits packages for their employees. They must research, analyze, and recommend benefit policies and keep informed about current trends and government regulations to keep benefits packages current and competitive. Benefits specialists also must work closely with other professionals, such as insurance brokers and benefit carriers, to manage the enrollment of policies. The following chart gives you an overview about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Communications, business, management, organizational development
Certification Certified Employee Benefit Specialist is optional
Key Responsibilities Administer benefit plans for a company's employees, review plans offered by the company, compare plans to save money and stay current
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% (for all compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists)*
Mean Salary (2015) $65,100 (for all compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as a Benefits Specialist?

As a benefits specialist, you would work in the human resources department of a company to administer your company's benefits plans for its employees. Benefit plans differ according to your company but can involve medical insurance including dental, vision or mental as well as savings options including retirement and pension plans. You would also review the plans that your company offers and compare them to what is currently available to check if you can save your company money or offer better plans for similar prices.

What Education Do I Need?

Many benefits specialists hold a bachelor's degree, though specific programs in benefits administration aren't available. You could choose a major such as communications or business and enroll in classes in human resources administration and management, compensation and benefits and organizational development. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that an interdisciplinary background is a good way to prepare for a career in human resources, so studying social and behavioral sciences, business administration and computer systems may be helpful in furthering your knowledge (www.bls.gov). Consider applying for an internship or work-study program while you're in school, because experience in the human resources field may help improve your knowledge and candidacy in the work zone.

Do I Need to Be Certified?

Though you don't need to be certified to work as a benefits specialist, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans offers the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) designation (www.ifebp.org). The CEBS program consists of six core classes plus two electives and a qualifying examination. After some years of experience working in the human resources field, you may choose to be become certified to demonstrate your professional ability.

What Salary Could I Earn?

According to the BLS, as of May 2015, compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists made an average yearly wage of $65,100. PayScale.com reported in January 2017 that most CEBS-certified benefits specialists made salaries in the range of $37,014 - $69,140.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Those interested in becoming a benefits specialist may also want to consider some related alternative careers which require a similar skill set and level of education. For example, compensation managers are similar to benefits specialists except they work to plan and oversee employee payment within an organization. They generally require a bachelor's degree to gain entry-level employment. Human resources managers also require a bachelor's degree. They coordinate the recruiting and hiring of new staff and serve as the connection between management and employees. Buyers and purchasing agents are another option; these professionals buy products for their organization, which involves visiting suppliers and evaluating the quality of the products.

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