How Do You Become a Benefits Manager?

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There are many ways to become a successful benefits manager. These HR professionals are responsible for administering employee benefits programs, such as insurance and retirement options, for companies. Below explains the recommended steps to enter this unique career field.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

All employee benefits managers will need a bachelor’s degree in human resources or related field, such as accounting or business administration. Most study human resources, which includes courses on labor, business, employment and employee benefits laws. Students also take classes that cover the fundamentals of finance, leadership, management and organizational communication.

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Core courses will include benefits management, compensation plans, labor relations and legal issues in HR management classes. Other courses will include employee recruiting, retention, training and development. Many benefit managers choose an HR degree program that offers specializations in benefit or compensation management. Most degrees will include many classes on standard software programs.

Choose the Right Classes

For starters, there will be basic computer literacy classes that teach about spreadsheets, databases and other relevant programs. These are typically about Microsoft Excel, Access, Visio and PowerPoint. Because the field of HR is becoming technologically demanding, knowledge of specific HR software are required many for many positions. Those who manage HR functions will deal with complex amounts of data that is collected, stored and utilized for business decisions. All of these programs should include electives that train students in Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS). These courses examine how information is functionally utilized by HR and business managers to make quantitative decisions that require many unique skills. These include modeling, process mapping, spreadsheet analysis and workforce management reporting.

Work in HR

Many recent graduates start out their HR careers as generalists or assistants. Their duties include copying HR forms, distributing company policies and creating employee handbooks. They assist with scheduling interviews, collect applications and process emails from job candidates. They also maintain digital and physical employee personnel files, which includes I-9, W-4, insurance, workers’ comp, performance and disciplinary documentation. They are usually responsible to purge and destroy outdated legal forms in compliance with federal laws and the company’s retention policies. Many recent graduates may start their career as a benefits coordinator under the direction of the HR manager or benefits administrator.

Work as a Manager

The final step is to handle benefits in a managerial position. These HR professionals will supervise the daily benefits administration activities. They are responsible for updating and maintaining employee benefits data in the HRIS. They are responsible for maintaining data integrity in the HRIS system by setting access policies and supervising employees who perform data entry duties. They monitor vendors and benefit providers to ensure quality and accuracy. They complete and track all benefit plan filings as required per the ACA, IRS, and DOL. Benefit administrators must remain current on all current and upcoming legislative changes relative to benefit plan regulations. Thus, they oversee compliance policies and procedures.

To remain competitive, a benefits manager will maintain professional certification, such as the SHRM-CP credential that is offered through the Society for Human Resource Management.

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