Compensation and Benefits Managers
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Plan, direct, or coordinate compensation and benefits activities of an organization. Job analysis and position description managers are included in "Human Resources Managers" (11-3121).
This career appears to require experience.
Undergraduate program resulting in the highest median salary ($101K): Finance
Largest undergraduate program (19.5% of workers): Business Management and Administration
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Titles for this career often contain these words
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Responsibilities and activities

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.

Median salary: $125,130 annually
Half of those employed in this career earn between $93,510 and $168,500.
Note: The salaries for compensation and benefits managers have been top-coded by the BLS; in 2019, all annual salaries larger than # are recorded as #.
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for this career compare to other jobs' salaries?
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Salary growth for compensation and benefits managers
Is this job likely to reward you for sticking with it through pay raises and promotions? The higher a job’s “experience quotient,” the more you are likely to get as you stay there.
Experience quotient percentile
Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?
Salary distribution
Number employed
About Compensation and Benefits Managers
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs? The availability of health care, especially employer provided health care, and pension plans can add significantly to the value of compensation you receive in a career. These charts compare how this career compares to other careers with regard to health care and pension plans.
Employee has health insurance
Employer is providing health insurance
Employer-provided pension plan is available
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of compensation and benefits managers who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (67%)
  • High Conflict Frequency (53%)
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Personality and skills
Can you see yourself in the ranks of Compensation and Benefits Managers? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.
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.
Education pathways to this career
Education attained by compensation and benefits managers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), compensation and benefits managers typically hold a bachelor's degree.
Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as compensation and benefits managers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.
Details: Education and training recommended for compensation and benefits managers

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

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for compensation and benefits managers

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.

Education level of Compensation and Benefits Managers
About 70% of compensation and benefits managers have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by compensation and benefits managers
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Top college degrees
Here are the top college degrees held by the 69% of people in this job who have at least a bachelor's degree. Some of degrees may link to multiple programs due to the way Census classifies college majors. Click on a program to learn more about career opportunities for people who major in that field.
  1. Business Management and Administration
  2. Psychology
  3. Business/Commerce
  4. Human Resources and Personnel Management
  5. Finance
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College majors held by compensation and benefits managers
This table shows the college majors held by people working as compensation and benefits managers. If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!
Select any title to learn more about that degree
Salary comparison for bachelor's only
Career salary (tail) versus Career/Major salary (dot)
Does the bachelor's-only salary rise or fall with this major?
Salary for bachelor's-only
For people with this career and major
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Salary for all workers
For people with this career and major
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education for Career and Major
Workers with this career/major
Percentage in this career with this major
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The link between degrees and this career
With the following sankey diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as compensation and benefits managers, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. We hope this provides ideas for similar jobs and similar fields of study.
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Business Management ...PsychologyGeneral BusinessHuman Resources and ...FinanceMarketingAccountingCommunicationsHistoryEconomicsAll other degreesThis jobTop 10 majors
Where are the jobs
State-by-state employment numbers
Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.
Select a state to see local area details
Number of Compensation and Benefits Managers per 1,000 workers (ACS)
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Job density versus job count
Which states hire the most compensation and benefits managers? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as compensation and benefits managers. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where compensation and benefits managers earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio
We use two methods to compare salaries across states:
  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for compensation and benefits managers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for compensation and benefits managers.
We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which compensation and benefits managers earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this figure might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
Location-adjusted median salary for Compensation and Benefits Managers (ACS)
3% of Compensation and benefits managers are working part time.
We’ve found that some jobs have a huge number of part-time workers, and typically that is because they are unable to find full-time work or the job itself can’t provide full-time hours. With 3% part-time workers, this occupation has a lower percentage of part-time workers than 89% of careers.
Employer types
This donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire for this career.
Employers of undefined (ACS)
Private for-profit
Private not-for-profit
Local government
State government
Federal government
Self-employed incorporated
Self-employed not incorporated
Working without pay
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Distribution: Salaries of compensation and benefits managers by type of employer
Here are the salary distributions based on employer type.
$72K$80K$60K$75K$64K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000$200,000State governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Compensation and benefits managers and gender
With 76% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 85% of careers.
Gender of Compensation and benefits managers
Men (24%)
Women (76%)
Distribution: salaries by gender
Does gender greatly influence your salary in this career? The closer the bars are, the less discrepancy there is.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.
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Context: Women in the workforce
How does this career compare to other careers with regard to the percentage of women in the career.
Context: Salary inequity
The median (middle) salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%, and the difference for compensation and benefits managers tops that, with the median salary for men 39% higher than the median salary for women.
Race and origin of Compensation and benefits managers
This donut shows the distribution of race and origin among those employed as Compensation and benefits managers.
Race/origin of compensation and benefits managers
White (80% )
Black (12% )
Asian (4% )
Multiracial (2% )
Other (2% )
American Indian (0% )
Hispanic (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Distribution: salaries by race/origin
Some careers might have a pay disparity based on race or origin, the closer the below bars are the less of a discrepancy is present.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.