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How to Become a Benefits Specialist

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Benefit specialists administer employee befits programs in an organization. They ensure the organization implements mandated benefits programs such as Worker’s Compensation and Social Security, and maintains optional benefits programs that are competitive. A bachelor’s degree, the right occupational skills and a professional certification are the tools you need to land this job.

Get the Education

The first step to becoming a benefits specialist is to pursue a bachelor's degree in business administration or human resources management. The program should include coursework in benefits administration. Psychology and sociology graduates can enter the profession by completing short-term courses in compensation and benefits analysis. Employers also prefer benefits specialists with relevant experience. After graduating, find an entry level job in human resources, such as benefits assistant, to obtain the required experience.

Develop the Qualities

Benefits specialists are analytical thinkers with strong business awareness skills. When designing an optional benefits program, for example, you must evaluate its implications on the financial appearance on the company. Creative thinking and problem-solving skills become important, because you are required to develop unique ideas for designing attractive benefits programs. You should be able to accurately interpret the laws and regulations related to compensation programs, as well as build positive relationships with the organization’s workforce. The automation of benefits administration practices also requires you to be proficient with technology.

Obtain a Professional Certification

Although professional certification is not mandatory, it demonstrates your capability and places you ahead of the competition. The International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans offers the Certified Employee Benefits Specialist program, which is open to anyone looking to enter this field. Certification applicants can also take CEBS courses and exams at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. The foundation also awards Group Benefits Associate and Retirement Plans Associate designations to individuals who successfully meet the certification requirements.

Find a Job

Benefits specialists can land a job in many types of private and public organizations. You can work in health care facilities, educational institutions, government agencies, consulting firms or financial services companies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists will grow by 6 percent from 2012 through 2022; which is slower than the 11 percent average for all jobs. Benefits specialists earned an average annual wage of $40,000 in 2014, according to Indeed, an occupational resources website.

2016 Salary Information for Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists

Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists earned a median annual salary of $62,080 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists earned a 25th percentile salary of $48,420, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $79,220, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 84,200 people were employed in the U.S. as compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists.

References

About the Author

Based in New York City, Alison Green has been writing professionally on career topics for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in “U.S. News Weekly” magazine, “The Career” magazine and “Human Resources Journal.” Green holds a master's degree in finance from New York University.

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