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Whether you’re early in your career or a senior-level HR professional, a compensation and benefits certification is a specialization that will make you stand out to potential employers and be a strong asset to your company.

Benefits of certification include helping you add strategic value to your organization and increasing your employability, as well as networking opportunities. You can also include specialist certifications in your title and additional badges on your resume or email.

So, if you’re looking for the best programs to become a certified employee benefit specialist, scroll below to find the best one for you!

1. Pro Benefits Certificate from HRCI

HRCI is a globally recognized institution and sets the standard for HR. The Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) offers a pro-benefits certificate that covers benefit philosophy and the key concepts of both retirement and health benefits.

It also includes ongoing employee health and wellness support, covering everything from mental, physical, and financial health. This certificate also includes a course on how physical and mental health benefits can support DEI initiatives.

  • Price: $299
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both? Online
  • How many hours of instruction: 12 hrs
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

2. Certified Employee Benefit Specialist® (CEBS) at IFEBP

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) provides continuing education programs and virtual conferences to support and connect HR professionals. 

Their Certified Employee Benefits Specialist® (CEBS) course will teach you research-based best practices for leveraging the right benefits plan that keeps your organization competitive when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, and a deeper understanding of specialized vendors and compliances can support your organization in times of unprecedented change.

Developed by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Dalhousie University, this in-depth benefits program will help you understand healthcare strategy, retirement funding, and the pieces that make successful work culture. 

Students undergo five courses and five certification exams with a core based in Group Benefits Associate (GBA) and Retirement Plans Associate (RPA) programming. The course is online but study groups are available for those who need the camaraderie and accountability.

  • Price: Available upon request
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both? Online
  • How many hours of instruction: Self-paced
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

3. Compensation and Benefits Course with HRCI

HRCI is one of the top institutions for professional development in the HR industry, and this course is a great option for HRCI and SHRM recertification credits.

Here you’ll learn about pay structure and legal requirements for salaries, along with pay equity within an organization, competitive pay, and how to offer raises.

You’ll cover topics from how comp and benefits tie into employee motivation, different types of comp systems, and how to handle employees versus contractors. You’ll also review relevant state and federal wage and hour regulations.

The HRCI Compensation and Benefits course is virtual, a flexible option for full-time HR professionals looking to re-sharpen their sills. 

  • Price: $79
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both? Online
  • How many hours of instruction: Self-paced

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4. Group Benefits Associate (GBA) at IFEBP

If you’re currently managing or looking to specifically lead the health and group benefits at your organization, the Group Benefits Associate (GBA) designation can help. IFEBP is one of the globally-recognized institutes offering this benefits certification, which will help you serve a diverse community with the right health plans and security.

While this course focuses on health coverage, it also includes a bridge course with materials concerning designing, funding, and managing employee benefits. The GBA certification process is also an education requirement for the 5-course CEBS certification, so you can always continue the series down the line.

  • Price: Available upon request
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both? Online
  • How many hours of instruction: Self-paced
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

5. Certified Benefits Professional (CBP®) at WorldatWork

WorldatWork is a global association of HR professionals looking to support organizations and their people. 

They offer several credentials, including a Certified Benefits Professional (CBP). The CBP® program is designed to help you develop the knowledge and confidence to execute a benefits program aligned with your organization’s business strategy, including retirement planning, workplace incentive strategy, or outside contractor negotiations and compliances.

WorldatWork is ideal for those looking to join an HR community both in-person and online. The CBP® designation is perfect for entry to mid-level HR professionals and includes seven courses with seven accompanying exams. Please note, for recertification, you need 12+ credits every three years.

  • Price: Members: $1,350 USD per course / Non-Members: $1,929 USD
  • Duration: TBD
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both? Both
  • How many hours of instruction: TBD
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

6. Certified Compensation Professional (CCP®) at WorldatWork

A Certified Compensation Professional (CCP®) is recognized around the world and shows potential employers your expertise in all things compensation, including employee rewards and benefits.

The CCP® course is perfect for entry to mid-level professionals, and you’ll learn compensation and benefit best practices to help you think critically as you evaluate benefit packages and salaries.

You''ll have the option to learn both in-person or online with access to some of the top experts and consultants from around the world.

  • Price: Members: $1,350 USD per course / Non-Members: $1,929 USD
  • Duration: TBD
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both? Both
  • How many hours of instruction: TBD
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

7.  Compensation & Benefits Certificate Program at AIHR

The Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR) offers a comprehensive certificate program to prepare human resource professionals for creating an effective compensation and benefits strategy at their organization.

This course is ideal for independent learners looking for holistic competency from total rewards (including well-being and employee recognition) to pay gap analysis. Learn at your own speed and come away with the skills to support or develop your organization’s ongoing compensation and benefits strategy.

  • Price: $975
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Exam Required: N/A but requires a capstone project
  • Online, In-Person, or both? Online
  • How many hours of instruction: Self-paced
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

8. Retirement Plans Associate (RPA) at IFEBP

As the name implies, the Retirement Plans Associate (RPA) designation through IFEBP focuses on employee contributions and asset management. IFEBP’s HR certification reflects current and relevant information on enrollment and retirement plans, including retirement plan investing and portfolio management.

IFEBP programs include a virtual course and access to study groups, perfect for learners who work full-time but who also need study accountability. The RPA designation is made up of 2 courses that make up for 5 courses in the overall CEBS designation, so you can always continue and level up your designation.

  • Price: Available upon request
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both? Online
  • How many hours of instruction: Self-paced
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

9. Health Insurance Associate (HIA®) Designation

The Health Insurance Associate (HIA®) designation is a stand-out certification for any HR professional. Offered through AHIP (formerly known as the American Health Insurance Plans), this HIA® designation is primarily for those working within the United States. Along with the HIA®, students can add on additional courses like Medicare or Medicaid Primer.

This designation will cover everything from the fundamentals of health insurance coverage to long-term care and disability. Primarily virtual, the certification process includes a mix of webinars, self-study, and workshops. AHIP also offers a few options to meet in person for conferences throughout your study.

  • Price: Ranges $200-$250 per course
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both? Both
  • How many hours of instruction: Self-paced
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

10. Employee Benefits Certificate Series from MRA

MRA is a non-profit organization serving 5,000 employers and supporting millions of employees around the globe since 1901. Their Employee Benefits Certificate Series includes four courses covering standard principles for benefits, designing and funding plans, building 401(k) and administration, and best practices.

It’s ideal for benefits administrators, specialists, HR generalists, or other human resource management professionals looking to dip their toes into the comp and bends world. The MRA series offers in-person and remote options to help independent or group learners dive into benefit election, evaluation, and renewals. The course is also available for HRCI and SHRM recertification and credits.

  • Price: Upon Request
  • Duration: Varies
  • Exam Required: N/A
  • Online, In-Person, or both? Both
  • How many hours of instruction: Varies
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

11. Certificate In Employee Benefits Law Seminar from HR Training Center

The HR Training Center is the go-to institution for many in human resource management and they offer a comprehensive benefits certificate program.

The Certificate In Employee Benefits Law Seminar is a 4.5-day seminar that covers employees benefit challenges, issues, design, and administration. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of the controversies, government agencies, and federal and state regulations that cover employee benefits.

Participants will focus on best practices within compliance, executive compensation, retirement, welfare benefit plans, and training. You’ll have access to highly-experienced attorneys specializing in this field, along with a group of fellow practicing HR professionals to learn with.

This course is ideal for those looking to gain confidence in benefit design and who learn best in groups.

  • Price: Upon request
  • Duration: 4.5 days
  • Exam Required: N/A
  • Online, In-Person, or both? In-person
  • How many hours of instruction: Varies
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

12. Defined Benefit Administration Certificate (DB-A) from ASPPA

The ASPPA offers a Benefits Administration Certificate (DB-A) for those HR teams and consultants who support defined benefits plans.

In this course, you’ll learn about contributions and applicable deadlines, along with calculations for termination and retirement benefits.  

This course includes study materials perfect for independent learners, but you have 180 days after enrollment to take your certification exam. Upon successful completion, you will receive a DB-A certificate.

  • Price: $560
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both? Online
  • How many hours of instruction: Self-paced within 180 days
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

13. Certified Total Rewards Professional™ (CTRP) from HRD Future

HRD Future hosts a Certified Total Rewards Professional™ (CTRP) workshop to support leaders around the world looking to broaden their skills with annual salary reviews, incentive pay design, and other advanced benefits.

Led by an expert in total rewards with over 30 years of experience, this 3-day workshop will also cover remote work and what to do during economic uncertainty.

This course is for human resource professionals with more than four years of benefits and comp experience looking to strengthen their abilities to design and manage existing plans.

  • Price: $2,000
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both? Online
  • How many hours of instruction: Varies
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

14. International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS) Certification

The International Society of Certified Specialists (ISCEBS) is an interactive, global community supporting CEBS-certified HR and business leaders committed to lifelong learning and providing health and financial security to their organizations. ISCEBS offers its own set of courses and activities you can apply towards your own CEBS recertification.

This program is ideal for those with CEBS certification looking to network with others in the industry and keep up with current trends. It offers a variety of ways you can maintain your CEBS HR certification, including undergraduate course work, CEBs courses, webinars and e-learning, teaching, and conference attendance.

  • Price: Varies
  • Duration: Self-Paced
  • Exam Required: N/A
  • Online, In-Person, or both? Both
  • How many hours of instruction: Varies
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

15.  Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist (CCWS)

The Corporate Health and Wellness Association offers a Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist (CCWS) for HR professionals looking to design benefit programs in the evolving employee wellness space. 

Modules cover topics from wellness technology, compliance and regulations, how to measure ROI, and more. Not only will you learn more about the regulations, but you’ll have real-world case studies to pick up best practices.

The course is self-study and is available online through 11 modules. You’ll have access to the videos, along with the textbook and course summary workbooks to prepare you for the exam. 

  • Price: Upon Request
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Exam Required: Yes
  • Online, In-Person, or both? Online
  • How many hours of instruction: Self-paced
  • Eligibility Requirements: N/A

Gain A Benefits Certification To Help Take Your Career Where You Want It To Go

Expanding or revisiting your compensation and benefits knowledge will help you add more strategic value to any organization and increase your employability. Perhaps this specialization might represent an exciting new career path for you.

Some further resources to help you progress in your career and build healthy, productive organizations.

You can also find career advice and support in the People Managing People Community, a knowledgeable community of HR and business leaders passionate about building organizations of the future.

By Finn Bartram

Finn is an editor at People Managing People. He's passionate about growing organizations where people are empowered to continuously improve and genuinely enjoy coming to work. If not at his desk, you can find him playing sports or enjoying the great outdoors.