How Do I Become a Certified Benefits Specialist?

Research what it takes to become a certified benefits specialist. Learn about job duties, education requirements, certification and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Human Resource Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Certified Benefits Specialist?

A certified benefits specialist manages a company's employee benefits programs. They must stay up-to-date with the most current benefits policies in order to make sure that their organization's policies are up-to-date and competitive. They also analyze employees' jobs and roles within the company to determine their pay scale and classification. It is also important for them to be able to work with outside insurance and benefits companies to be able to provide their employees with the best packages possible. Read over the chart below to learn more about this profession.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree may be beneficial
Certification Specialty Designations, Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS)
Education Field of Study Business administration, human resources, finance
Key Responsibilities Implement benefits programs, educate employees about various benefits plans
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% (for all compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists)*
Median Salary (2015) $60,850 (for all compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Certified Benefits Specialist Do?

As a benefits specialist, you are responsible for implementing the benefits programs such as health insurance and retirement plans that are offered by your company. You are also responsible for educating other employees on the details of these plans. You typically work within an organization's human resources department. To be successful as a benefits specialist, you need to know the specific details of your company's programs, including pension plans, 401(k) savings plans, dental health insurance plans or any number of different specialized programs available today.

What Education Do I Need?

Although a bachelor's degree is not required, some candidates in the HR field choose to complete a bachelor's degree program before entering the work force. While undergraduate degree programs in human resources are not typical, you can choose to take courses in human resources administration and management through a business administration or similarly focused program. If human resources classes are not available, an interdisciplinary approach in your degree program can give you the knowledge needed to enter the human resources field. You can also choose to continue your education with a graduate degree program in human resources or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in human resource management.

How Do I Become Certified?

The International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans (IFEBP) offers the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) designation (www.ifebp.org). You earn the CEBS title after completing the eight-course program and receiving a passing score on the examination. The IFEBP also offers three specialty designations that, when combined, make up the CEBS designation and count toward its requirements. The three specialty designations are Compensation Management Specialist (CMS), Group Benefits Associate (GBA) and Retirement Plans Associate (RPA). Earning one or more of these while working in the human resources field could be a good pathway towards becoming a CEBS.

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that, in May 2015, compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists earned a median annual wage of $60,850 (www.bls.gov). In February 2017, PayScale reported that benefits specialists with the CEBS designation in the 10th-90th percentile range made salaries ranging from $35,648-$69,003

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you have a bachelor's degree and are interested in a more managerial position, you could pursue a job as a compensation and benefits manager. These professionals manage other benefits specialists and overview the benefits packages that their company offers employees. Another option is a job as a training and development manager, which also requires a bachelor's degree. This job entails setting up trainings for employees in order to help them expand their knowledge base, improve their work performance and increase their skill set.

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