Benefits Administration Careers
Benefits Administration careers first came into being during the 1960s, when companies began growing larger and employee benefits plans became a more significant part of overall employee compensation.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for talent to fill Benefits Administration jobs will increase over the next decade due to both new job creation and the need to replace workers who have left the industry due to retirement or for other reasons. Demand will increase in firms with Human Resources departments as well as in outsourcing companies that provide Benefits Administration services for other organizations.
As businesses attempt to both manage expenses and maintain employee satisfaction, benefits compensation plans will become increasingly complex and increase Benefits Administration jobs opportunities. Outsourcing firms in particular will benefit, due to their ability to specialize and to develop and implement sophisticated benefits packages for other organizations.
There has been some movement toward implementing online, self-service employee benefits enrollment, but so far it hasn’t proved very popular and should have little impact on employment prospects for the industry. Because of the large number of choices to be made in Benefits Administration careers, and the potential risks involved when choosing benefits and compensation components, most employees are reluctant to take on the task themselves and prefer to have the expert guidance of a qualified Benefits Administrator.
What People in Benefits Administration Jobs Do
A Benefits Administrator, sometimes known as a Benefits Administration Manager or Benefits Administration Specialist, performs a wide variety of duties and employs an impressive array of interpersonal, technical, and analytical abilities. Benefits Administrators manage workers’ employee benefits plans, including health insurance, retirement funds, and other forms of incentives and compensation. Managing employee benefits plans requires a very broad set of skills, including attention to detail, analytical ability, and good people skills.
The primary responsibility for those in Benefits Administration jobs is to create compensation packages that meet employees’ needs while at the same time helping the parent organization control costs and remain competitive in its industry. This responsibility becomes progressively more complex and challenging as employers look for ways to continue to turn a profit and remain competitive in their industry in the face of an economic downturn, without sacrificing employees’ satisfaction with their jobs. The dramatic rise in health care costs presents a further challenge for those seeking careers in Benefits Administration.
The number of different types of compensation now available in employee benefits packages has grown dramatically in recent years, making Benefits Administration careers both more demanding and more rewarding. Benefits Administrators do spend a lot of their time working with data, but they are also responsible for implementing and administering benefits plans, so some of their time is spent working with employees directly, either individually or in groups.
Benefits Administrators have traditionally been responsible for overseeing employee health insurance, pension plans, IRAs and 401(k)s, disability insurance, life insurance, long-term-care benefits and death benefits. Today’s compensation packages also include benefits such as maternity/paternity leave, child care, long-term care, preventive medicine plans, and flexible spending plans.
Benefits Administration managers and specialists must ensure that their company’s benefits plans are being properly implemented. They must verify that benefits claims meet all of the company’s requirements, and also ensure that employees receive all of the benefits to which they are entitled, including medical coverage, sick leave, and vacation time. They must also make sure that health care providers are paid for their services in a timely manner.
Those in Benefits Administration jobs are responsible for ensuring that the employees of their company fully understand the benefits available to them, along with the associated costs and the procedures which must be followed.
Where People in Benefits Administration Jobs Work
Benefits Administration Managers and specialists are a part of nearly every organization, from large corporations with offices all over the world to small businesses with only 30 employees. Virtually every organization with paid employees needs someone to manage the employee’s total compensation package, including health insurance, retirement plans, and other benefits.
The work environment for most in Benefits Administration careers is generally a private, or sometimes shared, office space. Work days are usually the traditional Monday to Friday work week, and work hours are generally from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or similar traditional office work schedules. Certain Benefits Administrators may be able to work from their homes for at least part of the work week. Those in Benefits Administration jobs may be employed by a private or government organization, may work for an outsourcing firm, or they may be self employed.
Benefits Administration jobs are often a part of the Human Resources department of the employing company. Most Benefits Administrators work out of their offices, but, for many, extensive travel may be required. While Benefits Administrators may work for either large or small companies, the majority of opportunities available at larger companies that have entire departments devoted to Benefits Administration.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, Human resources managers and specialists, including Benefits Administrators, were employed in virtually every industry in 2006. Human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists held 868,000 jobs, of which 110,000 were held by Benefits Administrators. Of these jobs, 87 percent were in the private sector, while the remaining 13 percent were with the government, administering benefits programs for public workers.
In terms of government Benefits Administration jobs, two major employers are the Social Security Administration and the Veteran’s Administration. The primary focus of each of these organizations is providing, managing, and monitoring disability benefits, death benefits, and veteran’s benefits.
Benefits Administration Jobs Educational Requirements
It is possible to obtain a Benefits Administration job without any higher education, but generally these would be low-level positions with limited duties and low wages. With the proper related work experience, it is possible to be promoted to a Benefits Administration Manager, if you have the required skills and a good work history.
Most Benefits Administration jobs require a minimum of an associate’s degree. The most popular associate’s degrees employers look for when filling entry-level positions include degrees in human resources and accounting.
The most common degrees for Benefits Administration specialists are bachelor’s degrees in business administration or human resources administration. Other four-year degrees that would be helpful in obtaining a job in Benefits Administration are bachelor’s degrees in public administration, finance, and statistics. Because the field is so broad, however, employers will also consider candidates with a liberal arts degree, provided their coursework included relevant areas of study.
Because of the complexity of the field and the need for Benefits Administrators to stay current on rapidly changing policies, services, technologies, and state and federal regulations, many top-level Benefits Administration jobs require graduate degrees. Many institutions specialize in offering degree programs related to Benefits Administration careers.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, advanced degrees are becoming increasingly important for many Benefits Administration jobs. In many specialties, including negotiation, mediation, and arbitration, a background in industrial relations and law is strongly preferred. Because of the complexity of the law in these areas, and the constantly evolving laws and regulations, many Benefits Administrators who specialize in the above area are lawyers.
For top management positions, a master’s degree is generally considered to be a must. The most desired master’s degrees are human resources, labor relations, and business administration with a concentration in human resources management.
More information about Benefits Administration Careers
Benefits Administration Career Path and Earning Potential