Compensation and Benefits Managers

What Compensation and Benefits Managers Do

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

Work Environment

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

How to Become a Compensation or Benefits Manager

Compensation and benefits managers typically need a bachelor’s degree and related work experience.


The median annual wage for compensation and benefits managers was $122,270 in May 2019.

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.

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.

Compensation and benefits managers held about 18,000 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of compensation and benefits managers were as follows:

Management of companies and enterprises 19%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 17
Insurance carriers and related activities 11
Government 8
Healthcare and social assistance 7

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.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of compensation and benefits managers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Administrative Services Managers

Administrative services managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities that help an organization run efficiently.

Bachelor’s degree $96,940

Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists

Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists conduct an organization’s compensation and benefits programs.

Bachelor’s degree $64,560

Financial Managers

Financial managers create financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.

Bachelor’s degree $129,890

Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers plan, coordinate, and direct the administrative functions of an organization.

Bachelor’s degree $116,720

Human Resources Specialists

Human resources specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They also handle employee relations, compensation and benefits, and training.

Bachelor’s degree $61,920

Labor Relations Specialists

Labor relations specialists interpret and administer labor contracts.

Bachelor’s degree $69,020

Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents

Buyers and purchasing agents buy products and services for organizations. Purchasing managers oversee the work of buyers and purchasing agents.

Bachelor’s degree $69,600

Top Executives

Top executives plan strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals.

Bachelor’s degree $104,690

Training and Development Managers

Training and development managers plan, coordinate, and direct skills- and knowledge-enhancement programs for an organization’s staff.

Bachelor’s degree $113,350

Training and Development Specialists

Training and development specialists plan and administer programs that improve the skills and knowledge of their employees.

Bachelor’s degree $61,210

For more information about compensation and benefits managers, including certification, visit

International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans


For more information about human resources careers and certification, visit

Society for Human Resource Management


Compensation and Benefits Managers

Suggested citation:

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