How to Become a Benefits Specialist

Benefits Specialist
Benefits Specialist Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year$73,810
Avg. Pay / hour$35.49
Education4+ Years
Outlook9%

Benefits Specialists are in charge of handling all the paperwork in order for employees to receive compensation as well as other benefits the company offers.

Benefits Specialists work in the Human Resources department of a company handling all the paperwork for all other employees.

They work within the compliance of federal and state laws ensuring legal protocol is being met.

A Benefits Specialist can work in either a small or large company.

This position plays an important role in the Human Resources department.

They are the go to person when an employee sees some missing hours on their paycheck or has a question regarding benefits.

Someone who wants to become a Benefits Specialist can use their interpersonal, organizational and attention to detail skills in order to perform their role in this position.

Education Requirements to Become a Benefits Specialist

A person can become a Benefits Specialist by obtaining a four year college degree.

Candidates should focus in business or business administration as their course of study.

In addition, candidates should seek certification in order to be more competitive in the field.

Furthermore, professionals with experience in Human Resources will help strengthen a candidate’s background.

Employers look for a business background, although an interdisciplinary study that includes a minor in human resources administration is an alternative route in order to become a Benefits Specialist.

Students interested in becoming a Benefits Specialist should look at individual programs to determine whether the school offers a discipline in human resources administration.

Certification gives a candidate the necessary qualifications in order to work in the field as a Benefits Specialist.

The Certified Employee Benefit Specialist program offers four specializations and will prepare candidates to start applying for jobs.

Visit: CEBS for more information regarding certification and specializations.

The Certified Employee Benefit Specialist program offers specializations in the following:

  • Certified Employee Benefit Specialist – Focuses on complete employee compensation
  • Group Benefits Associate (GBA) – Provides specialization in health care and other group benefits
  • Retirement Plans Associate (RPA) – Focuses on providing specialization in all retirement plans
  • Compensation Management Specialist (CMS) – Concentrates on compensation and human resources

Benefits Specialist Job Description

Benefits Specialists are required to coordinate all facets of employee benefits as well as benefit and employee personal information.

They use their familiarity with employment laws, healthcare coverage and other benefits such as retirement in order to help colleagues apply for them or answer any questions.

The main purpose of their job is to provide all employees with the highest coverage possible according to employee contract negotiations or specifications.

Some essential functions a Benefits Specialist performs can include the following responsibilities:

  • Manage employee benefit programs according to contract information
  • Explain enrollment information to employees such as: benefit options, benefit eligibility, payment information and open enrollment
  • Assist in verifying eligibility, pass on information to employees and process claims
  • Create a variety of information regarding benefits such as pamphlets, forms, brochures and procedures
  • Distribute a variety of documentation including: retirement forms, benefit packages, bulletins, proof of insurance, forms for new enrollment or changes
  • Processes information received from enrolling employees
  • Investigates discrepancies involving employee, company, payroll, benefit providers and government agencies in order to provide maximum benefits
  • Ensure accuracy of records and employee information

Benefits Specialists make sure every employee is aware of and knowledgeable of the benefits they are qualified to receive through their company.

Benefits Specialists are aware of laws, procedures and know detailed information regarding the benefits their company can offer.

They handle a lot of information and are responsible for communicating any coverage changes with other employees.

Benefits Specialist Salary and Career Path

The national average salary for Benefits Specialist is approximately $59,000 per year.

The salary range for these professionals is $33,000 to about $61,000 depending on experience, education and location.

Experienced Benefits Specialists should expect more job opportunities compared to other professions.

The fast growth is attributed to changes in healthcare coverage and employment laws that require the expertise from skilled Benefits Specialists.

The job market will need Benefits Specialists who are knowledgeable with compensation and with benefits expertise.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$73,810
$42K
$49K
$73K
$83K
$106K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$63,280
Alaska$76,500
Arizona$67,750
Arkansas$57,580
California$82,260
Colorado$83,370
Connecticut$76,710
Delaware$83,580
District of Columbia$83,790
Florida$59,810
Georgia$71,880
Hawaii$63,520
Idaho$66,040
Illinois$77,720
Indiana$67,800
Iowa$66,900
Kansas$70,630
Kentucky$62,280
Louisiana$59,690
Maine$65,860
Maryland$78,280
Massachusetts$86,760
Michigan$72,500
Minnesota$82,520
Mississippi$56,840
Missouri$74,600
Montana$60,340
Nebraska$67,090
Nevada$60,010
New Hampshire$71,840
New Jersey$89,780
New Mexico$62,010
New York$84,290
North Carolina$66,520
North Dakota$70,830
Ohio$67,020
Oklahoma$57,710
Oregon$76,680
Pennsylvania$66,580
Rhode Island$86,500
South Carolina$61,680
South Dakota$58,700
Tennessee$60,040
Texas$68,890
Utah$65,330
Vermont$67,800
Virginia$74,670
Washington$88,000
West Virginia$43,480
Wisconsin$66,520
Wyoming$61,980
Puerto Rico$41,840

The top earning state in the field is New Jersey, where the average salary is $89,780.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New Jersey - $89,780
Washington - $88,000
Massachusetts - $86,760
Rhode Island - $86,500
New York - $84,290
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists, OCC Code 13-1141, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a benefits specialist do?

A benefits specialist is, in most cases, a member of the HR team.

The main responsibility of benefits specialists is to manage the compensation and benefits programs of the employees.

The duties of a specialist typically include researching and analyzing healthcare plans; coordinating stock ownership, profit-sharing, pension, and retirement plans; creating a comprehensive benefits package; advising management on resolving certain issues; resolving disputes; assisting employees; evaluating the costs and benefits of the programs, and so on.

A benefits specialist should have certain skills in order to succeed.

He or she has to have impeccable communication skills, the ability to think analytically and rationally, be attentive to detail, and, ideally, have a background in HR.

How much do benefits specialists make?

On average, a benefits specialist can make a little more than $50.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $37.000 and $68.000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Benefits specialists that are just getting started, make around $41.500; the specialists with 1-4 years of experience can earn a little less than $48.000; the experts with 5-9 years of experience can expect to make $52.000.

The salary would depend not only on your experience, but also on your education level, the employer, and on the geographical area.

How much does it cost to become a benefits specialist?

Typically, an aspiring benefits specialist would need to have a bachelor’s degree in human resources management.

On average, an out-of-state student would have to pay $36.000 per year for tuition, books, supplies, and accommodation.

A lot of employers require the candidates to have a CEBS (Certified Employee Benefits Specialist) certificate.

Each exam would cost you $315; the initial registration fee is $125.

In case you would want to advance your career in the future, you can become a member of a professional organization (the membership will, generally, cost you over a couple of hundreds of dollars per year).

What is the demand for benefits specialists?

Between 2016 and 2026, the benefits specialist job market is expected to grow by 9% in the United States, which is close to the national average.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as the economy of the country will continue to grow, more companies would be hiring benefits specialists.

The candidates that have a bachelor’s degree in HR and a certification will certainly have higher chances of getting hired for the best positions.

How long does it take to become a benefits specialist?

It will take you 4 years to acquire a bachelor’s degree in a related field.

Bear in mind that some companies might require the candidates to have a master’s degree.

It will take you 1-2 years to obtain one.

It is always a great idea to seek an internship during your final years at university, in order to get more on-job experience.

To become a Certified Employee Benefits Specialist, you wouldn’t need to possess any working experience; however, some employers might require the candidate to have a few years of on-job experience in the HR field.

Jamie Willis