How to Become a Compensation Manager

Compensation is an essential part of human resources in majority of major companies and organizations. Compensations managers are highly trained professionals that oversee compensation programs for employers.

What does a compensation manager do?

Compensation managers are responsible for setting up and maintaining the pay systems of a company or organization. They develop ways to make sure pay rates and benefits are fair and unbiased and ensure the pay scale complies with the constantly changing laws and regulations. They define the correct pay scale for all positions within the organization. They also manage the company’s performance evaluation system. Some compensation managers conduct surveys to see how the pay rates of their company compare with similar organizations. Some compensation managers specialize in specific areas such as pay studies or classifying positions.

What kind of training does a compensation manager need?

Compensation managers need at least a bachelor degree in compensation management, business, finance, human resources management, or related area. Some compensation managers have a master degree in human resources or compensation management. Prospective compensation managers typically take courses in organization management, human resource management, employment law, business statistics, compensation and benefits, compensation management, and labor relations and negotiations. Many complete internships or obtain part-time jobs in human resources to gain practical experience in the field while pursuing their education. Many compensation managers gain voluntary certification to remain competitive in the field. The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans offers a certification in compensation. Certification requirements include minimum education and experience and passing a written examination. Compensation managers must stay up to date on the current advancements in the field and often complete continuing education and additional training throughout their careers.

What are the prospects for a career as a compensation manager?

Employment of compensation managers is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 12% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growth of the human resources industry and increase in compensation issues among many companies will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be good especially for compensation managers with advanced education and certifications. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace compensation managers that retire, transfer, or leave the profession for other reasons.

How much do compensation managers make?

As of November 2009, the middle 50% of compensation managers earn annual salaries between $80,413 and $107,144. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $119,271 (2).

A career as a compensation manager is a great choice for people with a strong interest in human resources and developing pay rates for companies and organizations. Compensation managers must have analytical thinking, detail orientation, and contract negotiation skills. They must also be tactful because they often deal with sensitive information and they must respect the privacy of the company and its employees. Compensation managers must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills to be able to interact with a variety of employees and other professionals.

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