Compensation and Benefits Manager Career Description


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

What they do

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. Most of these managers work in offices.

How to become a Compensation and/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 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.

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.


The median annual wage for compensation and benefits managers was $122,270 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $69,870, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.

Job Outlook

Employment of compensation and benefits managers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Organizations continue to focus on reducing compensation and benefits costs, such as by introducing pay-for-performance and health and wellness programs. Organizations will need managers to evaluate and direct these compensation and benefits policies and plans.

Similar Job Titles

Benefits Coordinator, Benefits Manager, Compensation and Benefits Manager, Compensation Director, Compensation Manager, Compensation Vice President, Employee Benefits Coordinator, Employee Benefits Director, Employee Benefits Manager, Payroll Manager

Related Occupations

Human Resources Manager; Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialist; Auditor; Budget Analyst; Risk Management Specialist

More Information

The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field.  Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas.  As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.

Magazines and Publications

Video Transcript

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Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH,
CareerOneStop, O*Net Online