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How do I Become a Compensation Manager?

By Tess C. Taylor
Updated May 17, 2024
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If you have an interest in working in human resources and want to become a compensation manager, there are many ways to begin exploring this career. Compensation managers work within organizations to evaluate the roles of employees and establish reasonable compensation programs which maintain adequate levels of highly qualified and satisfied employees. While compensation managers must adhere to organizational goals and financial limits, being able to measure the value of human capital and provide benefits which fall under governmental guidelines is critical to success in this role.

Most compensation managers start out in some other aspect of human resources work before specializing in employee benefits. In order to become a compensation manager, it’s important to have an overall general experience in human resources which can include recruitment, hiring, benefits administration, employee development and payroll. In addition, having updated knowledge of government rules and regulations as well as guidelines for prevailing pay rates in different industries, can provide a solid foundation for professional work in compensation and benefits.

If you would like to become a compensation manager, the first step is to get the training and education needed to be successful in this challenging field. Taking college level courses in human resources and accounting leading to at least a four year degree which will prepare you for employment as a qualified compensation manager. Although educational and training requirements can vary somewhat based upon industries and duties, you will want to start working in human resources or payroll to get the work experience which will lead to a role as a compensation manager later on.

Becoming a compensation manager at a higher responsibility level can often mean obtaining a master’s degree in compensation management. In addition, it’s important to obtain a certification by an internationally recognized human resources industry association which can help launch you into a corporate level career as a compensation expert. This will create many more career opportunities for you in compensation management which can lead to higher levels of pay and other corporate perks.

The very best compensation managers have a solid five to ten years of career experience in analyzing employee performance, developing compensation programs for workers as well as processing employee benefits packages. In addition, many compensation professionals conduct frequent studies to determine if current compensation levels fall in line with industry standards. This ensures that all employees receive the best compensation possible for the types and amounts of work they do, so that employee satisfaction levels remain intact. If you want to become a compensation manager, it will be important for you to maintain updated skills in these critical areas.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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