Compensation or Benefits Manager

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Salary Range: $80,000 or more

Average Hourly: $ 60.16

Education: Bachelor's degree

Number of Jobs: 18700

Jobs Added to 2029: 700

Growth: Slower than average

What Compensation and Benefits Managers Do

Compensation and benefits managers plan, develop, and oversee programs to pay employees.


Compensation and benefits managers typically do the following:

  • Coordinate and supervise the work activities of staff
  • Set the organization’s pay and benefits structure
  • Monitor competitive wage rates to develop or modify compensation plans
  • Choose and manage outside partners, such as benefits vendors, insurance brokers, and investment managers
  • Oversee the distribution of pay and benefits information to the organization’s employees
  • Ensure that pay and benefits plans comply with federal and state regulations
  • Prepare a program budget and operate within that budget

Although some managers administer both the compensation and benefits programs in an organization, other managers—particularly at large organizations—specialize and oversee one or the other. However, all compensation and benefits managers routinely meet with senior staff, managers of other human resources departments, and the financial officers of their organization. They use their expertise to recommend compensation and benefits policies, programs, and plans.

Compensation and benefits managers may analyze data to determine the best pay and benefits plans for an organization. They may also monitor trends affecting pay and benefits and assess ways for their organization to improve practices or policies. Using analytical, database, and presentation software, managers draw conclusions, present their findings, and make recommendations to other managers in the organization.

Compensation managers direct an organization’s pay structure. They monitor market conditions and government regulations to ensure that their organization’s pay rates are current and competitive. They analyze data on wages and salaries, and they evaluate how their organization’s pay structure compares with that of other organizations. Compensation managers use this information to maintain or develop pay levels for an organization.

Some also design pay-for-performance plans, which include guidelines for bonuses and incentive pay. They also may help determine commission rates and other incentives for sales staff.

Benefits managers administer an organization’s employee benefits program, which may include retirement plans, leave policies, wellness programs, and insurance policies such as health, life, and disability. They select benefits vendors and oversee enrollment, renewal, and delivery of benefits to the organization’s employees. They frequently monitor government regulations and market trends to ensure that their programs are current, competitive, and legal.

Work Environment

Compensation and benefits managers work in nearly every industry. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

Work Environment Details

Compensation and benefits managers held about 18,700 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of compensation and benefits managers were as follows:
Professional, scientific, and technical services 19%
Management of companies and enterprises 17
Insurance carriers and related activities 11
Government 7
Healthcare and social assistance 6

Compensation and benefits managers work in nearly every industry. Most of these managers work in offices.

Work Schedules

Most compensation and benefits managers work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week. They may work more hours during peak times to meet deadlines, especially during the benefits enrollment period of their organization.

Job Outlook

Employment of compensation and benefits managers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2020 to 2030, slower than the average for all occupations.

Despite limited employment growth, about 1,500 openings for compensation and benefits managers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

How to Become a Compensation or Benefits Manager

Compensation and benefits managers typically need a combination of education and related work experience.


For most positions, compensation and benefits managers typically need a bachelor’s degree in business, human resources, or a related field.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Work experience is essential for compensation and benefits managers. Managers often specialize in either compensation or benefits, depending on the experience they gain in previous jobs. Managers often start out as compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists. Work experience in other human resource fields, in finance, or in management is also helpful.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required, certification gives compensation and benefits managers credibility because it shows that they have expertise. Employers may prefer to hire candidates with certification, and some positions require it.

Certification often requires several years of related work experience and passing an exam. Professional associations, including the Society for Human Resource Management, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and WorldatWork, offer certification programs that may be helpful for compensation and benefits managers.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Compensation and benefits managers analyze data on wages and salaries and the cost of benefits, and they assess and devise programs that best fit an organization and its employees.

Business skills. These managers oversee a budget, build a case for their recommendations, and understand how compensation and benefits plans affect an organization’s finances.

Communication skills. Compensation and benefits managers direct staff, give presentations, and work with colleagues. With each of these groups, they must be able to clearly explain concepts and respond to concerns.

Decisionmaking skills. These managers weigh the strengths and weaknesses of different pay structures and benefits plans and choose the best options for an organization.

Leadership skills. Compensation and benefits managers coordinate the activities of their staff and administer compensation and benefits programs, ensuring that the work is completed accurately and on schedule.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Compensation and Benefits Managers, at (visited ).