Salary and Benefits Managers
- Most compensation and benefits managers have at least a bachelor's degree in human resources.
- Some companies prefer to hire individuals who have completed a master's degree or MBA.
- Almost all salary managers go to regular training seminars to keep up on changes in compensation law.
What you study:
You'll study all of the following in your human resources program:
- HR Best Practices
- Benefits and Compensation Structures
- Employment Law
- Statistical Analysis
- Diversity in the Workplace
- Personnel Management
A Day in the Life
As a salary and benefits manager, you are a key member of a company or organization's human resources team. Your colleagues may refer to you as a compensation manager, benefits managers or employee benefits specialist. Regardless of your title, you handle employee compensation systems to ensure that all of your employees are paid in a fair and timely fashion. You also work with company executives to find a benefits plan that fits the company's budget while offering excellent value to all employees.
You get to work every morning right as the corporate office of the business that you work for opens. Your company is in the midst of redesigning its compensation structure. As the compensation manager, you are in charge of this project. You check in with the employees who work under you in your HR department and then head to a meeting with company executives. You talk to executives about adjusting the personnel budget to meet the demands of the job market. During the meeting, you explain that salaries must be adjusted if your company expects to attract the top talent in your industry.
After your meeting, you head back to your office and check your phone messages and emails. You see that an employee at a satellite location is having problems with your company's insurance provider. First you call the employee so that you understand the nature of the problem and can best guide her. You listen to the employee's concerns and tell her that you'll call the insurance company and try to get everything sorted out. You place a call to the insurance company and leave a message for the person you need to speak with about your employee's problem.
For the rest of the morning, you work with your employees to sort out any minor benefits and compensation issues. You guide them as they prepare paperwork for your workers' compensation insurance provider. One of your teammates works with you to prepare budgetary projections based on the new information you received while talking with company leaders this morning.
You take a quick lunch so that you can meet with an employee who is leaving your company. You conduct an exit interview to determine why she's leaving and if there is anything that your company could improve so that employees don't quit. She mentions that her daughter has a serious medical issue and that your insurance simply didn't cover enough of the hospital costs. You make a note of this, deciding that you should talk to other employees about their experiences with the insurance company.
Before you leave for the day, you check in with your employees and briefly go over tomorrow's schedule. You put your office in order and pull out information about your insurance company so that you can evaluate whether or not the company's insurance plan is meeting employee needs.
Certifications and Licensing
You do not need a special certification in order to serve as a benefits or salary manager. However, you may choose to complete certification through the National Human Resources Association to demonstrate competency in your field.
As a compensation manager, you'll have decent career advancement opportunities so long as you have a well-rounded understanding of all areas of human resources.
Work location and hours:
You'll spend the majority of your time working in an office setting. You'll work standard office hours and will generally work a Monday through Friday schedule. If you work for a company with multiple locations, you may spend between 5 and 10 percent of your time traveling.
- The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook for Compensation and Benefits Managers: In this handbook, potential benefits managers will find a wealth of information about career prospects in this field. Because so much of the information is quantitative, it's important that prospective managers visit sites that offer a more balanced view of careers in this field.
- International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans: The IFEBP website provides a wide variety of resources for benefits professionals. The Education section of the site will be of particular interest to aspiring compensation managers.
- National Human Resources Association: NHRA serves professionals in all areas of human resources. Individuals who are contemplating careers in benefits management can use this site to familiarize themselves with the other key players in an HR department.
Salaries by City
See typical salaries and ranges for this career below*. Shift click to sort by more than one column -- for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.
|State||City / Region||Typical Salary||Salary Range||Job Count||% of All Jobs|
|AL||Birmingham - Hoover||$82,790||50||0.01%|
|AR||Fayetteville - Springdale - Rogers||$140,360||70||0.04%|
|AR||Little Rock - North Little Rock - Conway||$84,370||60||0.02%|
|AZ||Phoenix - Mesa - Glendale||$76,770||370||0.02%|
|CA||Los Angeles - Long Beach - Glendale (Metro Area)||$111,400||610||0.02%|
|CA||Oakland - Fremont - Hayward (Metro Area)||$110,600||180||0.02%|
|CA||Oxnard - Thousand Oaks - Ventura||$102,150||40||0.01%|
|CA||Riverside - San Bernardino - Ontario||$100,810||100||0.01%|
|CA||Sacramento - Arden - Arcade - Roseville||$98,100||110||0.01%|
|CA||San Diego - Carlsbad - San Marcos||$102,050||210||0.02%|
|CA||San Francisco - San Mateo - Redwood City (Metro Area)||$123,560||250||0.02%|
|CA||San Jose - Sunnyvale - Santa Clara||$138,820||170||0.02%|
|CA||Santa Ana - Anaheim - Irvine (Metro Area)||$104,530||240||0.02%|
|CO||Denver - Aurora - Broomfield||$114,530||100||0.01%|
|CT||Bridgeport - Stamford - Norwalk||$92,500||130||0.03%|
|CT||Hartford - West Hartford - East Hartford||$114,510||140||0.03%|
|CT||Norwich - New London||$80,840||40||0.03%|
|DC||Washington - Arlington - Alexandria (Metro Area)||$98,460||500||0.02%|
|DE||Wilmington (Metro Area)||$120,450||70||0.02%|
|FL||Fort Lauderdale - Pompano Beach - Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)||$124,740||80||0.01%|
|FL||Miami - Miami Beach - Kendall (Metro Area)||$101,660||60||0.01%|
|FL||Orlando - Kissimmee - Sanford||$73,480||50||0.01%|
|FL||Tampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater||$83,820||120||0.01%|
|FL||West Palm Beach - Boca Raton - Boynton Beach (Metro Area)||$123,940||90||0.02%|
|GA||Atlanta - Sandy Springs - Marietta||$101,350||360||0.02%|
|IA||Davenport - Moline - Rock Island||$62,930||30||0.02%|
|IA||Des Moines - West Des Moines||$90,050||80||0.02%|
|ID||Boise City - Nampa||$75,030||50||0.02%|
|IL||Chicago - Joliet - Naperville (Metro Area)||$78,480||830||0.02%|
|IL||Lake County - Kenosha County (Metro Area)||$90,960||130||0.03%|
|IN||Gary (Metro Area)||$64,330||40||0.02%|
|IN||Indianapolis - Carmel||$88,290||150||0.02%|
|KY||Lexington - Fayette||$66,230||40||0.01%|
|KY||Louisville - Jefferson County||$79,330||100||0.02%|
|LA||New Orleans - Metairie - Kenner||$74,570||80||0.02%|
|MA||Boston - Cambridge - Quincy (Metro Area)||$114,780||750||0.04%|
|MA||Framingham (Metro Area)||$93,740||40||0.03%|
|MA||Lowell - Billerica - Chelmsford (Metro Area)||$124,560||40||0.03%|
|MD||Baltimore - Towson||$95,820||180||0.01%|
|MD||Bethesda - Rockville - Frederick (Metro Area)||$107,630||90||0.02%|
|ME||Portland - South Portland - Biddeford||$92,220||70||0.03%|
|MI||Detroit - Livonia - Dearborn (Metro Area)||$97,430||90||0.01%|
|MI||Grand Rapids - Wyoming||$68,530||60||0.02%|
|MI||Lansing - East Lansing||$81,270||40||0.02%|
|MI||Warren - Troy - Farmington Hills (Metro Area)||$62,760||190||0.02%|
|MN||Minneapolis - St. Paul - Bloomington||$103,610||590||0.03%|
|NC||Charlotte - Gastonia - Rock Hill||$112,230||190||0.02%|
|NC||Durham - Chapel Hill||$100,150||40||0.01%|
|NC||Greensboro - High Point||$92,800||40||0.01%|
|NC||Raleigh - Cary||$94,590||70||0.01%|
|NC||Winston - Salem||$114,320||40||0.02%|
|NE||Omaha - Council Bluffs||$92,410||70||0.01%|
|NH||Nashua (Metro Area)||$82,230||N/A||N/A|
|NJ||Camden (Metro Area)||$111,460||40||0.01%|
|NJ||Edison - New Brunswick (Metro Area)||$125,500||100||0.01%|
|NJ||Newark - Union (Metro Area)||$126,830||130||0.01%|
|NV||Las Vegas - Paradise||$88,710||50||0.01%|
|NY||Albany - Schenectady - Troy||$92,140||100||0.02%|
|NY||Buffalo - Niagara Falls||$108,330||70||0.01%|
|NY||Nassau - Suffolk (Metro Area)||$114,520||140||0.01%|
|NY||New York - White Plains - Wayne (Metro Area)||$133,840||1,520||0.03%|
|OH||Cincinnati - Middletown||$82,180||200||0.02%|
|OH||Cleveland - Elyria - Mentor||$88,250||210||0.02%|
|OR||Portland - Vancouver - Hillsboro||$99,700||110||0.01%|
|PA||Allentown - Bethlehem - Easton||$129,340||60||0.02%|
|PA||Harrisburg - Carlisle||$88,980||60||0.02%|
|PA||Philadelphia (Metro Area)||$115,600||460||0.03%|
|PR||San Juan - Caguas - Guaynabo||$79,820||70||0.01%|
|RI||Providence - Fall River - Warwick||$111,190||100||0.02%|
|SC||Charleston - North Charleston - Summerville||$71,520||40||0.01%|
|SC||Greenville - Mauldin - Easley||$59,870||80||0.03%|
|TN||Nashville - Davidson - Murfreesboro - Franklin||$77,120||180||0.02%|
|TX||Austin - Round Rock - San Marcos||$114,220||50||0.01%|
|TX||Dallas - Plano - Irving (Metro Area)||$104,520||280||0.01%|
|TX||Fort Worth - Arlington (Metro Area)||$101,680||80||0.01%|
|TX||Houston - Sugar Land - Baytown||$117,990||310||0.01%|
|TX||San Antonio - New Braunfels||$104,070||110||0.01%|
|UT||Salt Lake City||$73,300||70||0.01%|
|VA||Virginia Beach - Norfolk - Newport News||$76,800||90||0.01%|
|WA||Seattle - Bellevue - Everett (Metro Area)||$107,280||250||0.02%|
|WI||Milwaukee - Waukesha - West Allis||$90,410||200||0.02%|