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Top 11 Benefits Specialist Certifications

This article discusses the top certifications for benefits specialists, including their requirements and advantages.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications are an important factor for a benefits specialist in the job market because they demonstrate that the individual has the necessary knowledge and skills to be successful in the profession. Certifications are also beneficial for validating an individual’s expertise and providing employers with assurance that their potential hire is qualified for the position. Additionally, certifications provide a competitive edge to job seekers, as it gives them an advantage over other applicants who may not have the same level of training or qualifications. Lastly, certifications can help benefits specialists stay up-to-date on industry trends, regulations, and best practices, allowing them to remain knowledgeable and provide the best service possible to their employer.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Benefits Specialists and explains how they can help to advance a benefits specialist's career.

What are Benefits Specialist Certifications?

Benefits specialist certification is a professional designation that recognizes the expertise of individuals in the field of employee benefits. It is awarded to those who have obtained a certain level of knowledge and experience in the areas of designing, administering, and managing employee benefit plans. This certification can help individuals demonstrate their commitment to providing superior service to their clients and employers through their understanding of the complexities involved with employee benefits administration. Benefits specialists are responsible for ensuring that employees receive adequate coverage, complying with government regulations, negotiating contracts with providers, and managing the financial aspects associated with the plan.

Having a benefits specialist certification can provide many advantages to those in the industry. With this certification, individuals will gain recognition as an expert in the field which may lead to higher salaries and more job opportunities. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for professionals to stay up-to-date on changes in legislation and other developments within the industry. The certification also provides access to resources such as conferences, seminars, webinars, and other educational materials that can further enhance one's knowledge base. Ultimately, having a benefits specialist certification demonstrates one's commitment to staying current on best practices in employee benefit plans so they can provide quality services to their clients or employer.

Pro Tip: Make sure to research the various benefits specialist certifications available to you before committing to one. Different certifications have different requirements, so make sure you understand what is required for each certification and that it fits with your career goals. Additionally, look into the cost of each certification and whether or not it will be worth the investment for you.

Related: What does a Benefits Specialist do?

Top 11 Benefits Specialist Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Benefits Specialists today.

1. Certified Total Rewards Professional (CTRP)

Certified Total Rewards Professional (CTRP) is a professional certification program offered by WorldatWork, a global human resources association. It was created to recognize professionals who have achieved a high level of expertise in the field of total rewards. The CTRP certification is designed to demonstrate knowledge in the areas of compensation, benefits, work-life, recognition and performance management.

To become certified as a CTRP, individuals must first complete an application process and pass an exam. The exam consists of 120 multiple-choice questions that are divided into four sections: Compensation, Benefits, Work-Life and Recognition & Performance Management. Candidates must score at least 70% to pass the exam.

The exam can be taken online or in person at one of WorldatWork's testing centers around the world. It typically takes about three hours to complete the exam and results are available immediately after completion.

The cost for taking the CTRP exam varies depending on whether you are a member or non-member of WorldatWork. For members, the cost is $450 USD; for non-members it is $650 USD. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with taking the exam at a testing center rather than online.

Once you have passed the exam and become certified as a CTRP, you will receive a digital certificate and badge that can be used on your resume or other professional materials to demonstrate your expertise in total rewards.

2. Certified Benefits Professional (CBP)

Certified Benefits Professional (CBP) is a professional designation awarded by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP). The CBP designation recognizes individuals who have achieved a high level of expertise in employee benefit plan design, implementation and management.

The CBP program consists of three components: an online self-study course, an online exam, and a two-day classroom training seminar. It typically takes between six to nine months to complete the program and earn the CBP designation.

To get the CBP designation, you must first register for the program with IFEBP. You will then be required to complete the self-study course and pass the online exam. After passing the exam, you must attend and successfully complete a two-day classroom training seminar.

The cost of obtaining the CBP designation varies depending on your membership status with IFEBP. For non-members, it costs $1,295 for members of IFEBP or its affiliates it is $995.

3. Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS)

Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) is a professional certification offered by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. It is designed to recognize professionals who have achieved a high level of knowledge and expertise in employee benefit plans.

The CEBS program consists of five courses and an exam that covers topics such as health care, retirement, disability, legal issues, investments, and taxation. The courses are offered online or in-person depending on the student’s preference. The program takes approximately two years to complete if taken on a full-time basis.

To become certified, individuals must first pass all five courses with a grade of “C” or higher and then pass the comprehensive exam with a score of 70% or higher. Individuals must also have at least three years of relevant work experience in order to be eligible for certification.

The cost for the CEBS program varies depending on whether you choose to take it online or in-person. Online courses typically range from $600-$1,000 per course while in-person courses range from $2,500-$3,000 per course. In addition to this cost, there is also an application fee of $100 and an exam fee of $400.

4. Certified Compensation Professional (CCP)

Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) is a professional certification offered by the WorldatWork Society of Certified Professionals. It is designed for professionals who specialize in compensation, benefits, and total rewards. The certification demonstrates an individual’s expertise in designing, implementing, and administering compensation programs that are equitable, cost-effective, and compliant with applicable laws and regulations.

To become a CCP, individuals must have at least three years of experience in the field of compensation or a related area such as human resources or finance. They must also pass an exam administered by WorldatWork. The exam consists of multiple choice questions covering topics such as job evaluation methods, pay structures, incentive plans, employee benefits, and compliance issues.

The exam takes approximately four hours to complete and costs $595 for members of WorldatWork or $795 for non-members. Upon successful completion of the exam, individuals receive their CCP designation from WorldatWork and are eligible to use the CCP acronym after their name on business cards and other documents.

5. International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) Certification

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) is a non-profit organization that provides education, research, and resources to employee benefit plan professionals. The IFEBP offers a certification program to help individuals demonstrate their expertise in the field of employee benefits.

The IFEBP certification is known as the Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) designation. It is designed for those who have a comprehensive understanding of employee benefits and are looking to further their professional development in the field. To obtain the CEBS designation, individuals must complete five courses and pass an exam for each course. The five courses include: Group Benefits; Retirement Plans; Compensation Management; Health Care Reform; and Global Benefits.

It typically takes between one and two years to complete all five courses and exams required for the CEBS designation. Individuals can take the courses online or in-person at various locations around the world, depending on availability.

The cost of obtaining the CEBS designation varies depending on how quickly you want to complete it, with prices ranging from $2,500 - $4,000 USD for all five courses combined.

Overall, obtaining the IFEBP’s Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) designation can be a great way to demonstrate your expertise in employee benefits and advance your career in this field.

6. Society for Human Resource Management - Certified Professional in Human Resources (SHRM-CP)

The Society for Human Resource Management-Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) is a professional certification program designed to recognize the knowledge and competencies of human resource professionals. It is offered by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. The SHRM-CP credential is designed to demonstrate mastery of the technical and operational aspects of HR practice, as well as the ability to apply strategies and tactics to drive business results.

To become certified, applicants must meet certain eligibility criteria and pass an exam administered by SHRM. To be eligible, applicants must have a minimum of one year of professional experience in a HR role or related field, or hold a bachelor’s degree in any discipline with at least three years of professional experience in a HR role or related field.

The SHRM-CP exam consists of 160 multiple choice questions that cover topics such as people strategy, workforce planning and employment, compensation and benefits, employee development, total rewards, performance management, employee relations, risk management and legal compliance. The exam takes about four hours to complete and costs $300 USD for members of SHRM or $400 USD for non-members. Candidates have up to three attempts at taking the exam within 12 months from their initial registration date. Upon successful completion of the exam, candidates will receive their SHRM-CP credential which is valid for three years from the date it was awarded.

7. Professional in Human Resources (PHR/SPHR/GPHR)

Professional in Human Resources (PHR/SPHR/GPHR) is a certification offered by the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI). It is designed to recognize professionals who demonstrate mastery of the strategic and tactical elements of HR management. The PHR, SPHR, and GPHR certifications are awarded after passing an exam that measures knowledge in areas such as human resource operations, workforce planning and employment, compensation and benefits, employee and labor relations, risk management, and more.

It typically takes between three to six months to prepare for the PHR/SPHR/GPHR exam. During this time, you should review materials from HRCI’s website or purchase study guides from third-party vendors. Additionally, you can attend workshops or seminars to gain additional knowledge.

To get your PHR/SPHR/GPHR certification you must first register with HRCI for the exam. The cost of registration varies depending on when you register; it ranges from $395 to $495 USD. After registering for the exam, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to schedule your test date. Once you have passed the exam, you will be awarded your PHR/SPHR/GPHR certification.

The cost of studying for the PHR/SPHR/GPHR exam can vary depending on what materials you use or if you attend any workshops or seminars. Additionally, some employers may offer tuition reimbursement programs that cover part or all of the cost associated with obtaining certification.

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

The International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS) is a professional organization that provides certification to individuals who specialize in employee benefits. The ISCEBS Certification Program is designed to recognize and promote the knowledge, skills, and abilities of those who work in the field of employee benefits.

To obtain ISCEBS certification, applicants must meet certain educational requirements and pass an exam. The exam consists of four parts: Employee Benefit Fundamentals, Retirement Plan Design & Administration, Health & Welfare Plan Design & Administration, and Professionalism. Each part is divided into multiple sections covering various topics related to employee benefit plans.

The entire certification process usually takes around 4-6 months to complete. To get started on the path to becoming certified by ISCEBS, applicants must first submit an application along with their transcripts and any other required documents. Once accepted into the program, applicants must then register for the exam and pay a fee of $399 USD for members or $599 USD for non-members. After passing the exam, applicants will receive their official certificate from ISCEBS confirming their status as a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS).

9. American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA) Certification

The American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA) Certification is a professional credential that demonstrates expertise in the field of qualified retirement plans. It is a voluntary certification program that provides recognition to those who have achieved a high level of knowledge and proficiency in the design, administration and management of pension plans.

In order to obtain ASPPA Certification, applicants must pass an exam administered by the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA). The exam consists of multiple-choice questions covering topics such as plan design, compliance, investments, taxation and fiduciary responsibility. To be eligible for the exam, applicants must have at least two years of experience working with qualified retirement plans.

The exam typically takes about four hours to complete and costs $395 for members and $495 for non-members. Once the exam has been passed, applicants will receive their certification within six weeks.

To maintain certification status, individuals must complete continuing education credits every three years. This can be done through attending conferences or taking courses offered by ASPPA or other organizations approved by ASPPA.

10. Health Insurance Associate (HIA)

Health Insurance Associate (HIA) is a professional certification program offered by the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU). It is designed to recognize individuals who demonstrate knowledge and proficiency in health insurance, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The HIA program consists of two exams: a general exam and a specialty exam. The general exam covers topics such as health insurance terminology, regulatory compliance, and marketing strategies. The specialty exam focuses on specific areas such as individual and group health coverage, Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care insurance, and disability income protection.

To get the HIA certification, you must pass both exams with a score of 75% or higher. The exams are administered through Prometric Testing Centers located throughout the United States. You can register for the exams online at www.prometric.com/nahu or by calling 1-800-638-8377.

The cost of the HIA program varies depending on which exams you take and how many times you take them. Generally speaking, it costs around $400 to $500 for both exams combined.

11. Certified Retirement Counselor (CRC®).

Certified Retirement Counselor (CRC®) is a professional certification program offered by the International Foundation for Retirement Education (InFRE). It is designed to recognize professionals who have demonstrated knowledge and experience in retirement planning.

The CRC® certification requires applicants to pass an exam that covers topics such as retirement income planning, Social Security, Medicare, estate planning, taxation, investments, and insurance. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and must be completed within three hours.

To qualify for the CRC® certification, applicants must meet certain educational and work experience requirements. Applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and two years of full-time professional experience in retirement planning or related financial services fields.

The cost of the CRC® certification program varies depending on the type of membership you choose. The basic membership fee is $250 per year plus a one-time application fee of $100. The premium membership fee is $450 per year plus a one-time application fee of $150. Both memberships include access to study materials, practice exams, and discounts on InFRE products and services.

Once you have met all the requirements and paid the applicable fees, it typically takes about four weeks to receive your CRC® certification.

Do You Really Need a Benefits Specialist Certificate?

The answer to whether or not you need a Benefits Specialist Certificate depends on your specific career goals and objectives. If you are looking to advance in the field of benefits administration, then having a Benefits Specialist Certificate could be extremely helpful. It can demonstrate that you possess the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively manage employee benefits programs, and it may also be beneficial when applying for jobs or promotions.

Having a Benefits Specialist Certificate can also help you stand out from other applicants. Since employers are looking for employees with specialized knowledge in this area, having certification can make you more attractive as an applicant. Additionally, having the certificate may give employers confidence in your abilities, since they will know that you have received professional training in the field.

In addition to helping with job opportunities and promotions, having a Benefits Specialist Certificate can also provide you with more credibility when advising clients about their employee benefits packages. This is especially important if you plan to offer consulting services or present yourself as an expert in benefits administration. Having a certification demonstrates that you have a high level of understanding of the industry and could be beneficial for both your business and your clients.

Overall, obtaining a Benefits Specialist Certificate is not absolutely necessary but it can be advantageous depending on your specific career objectives. It could open up new opportunities for advancement or allow you to offer higher levels of service as an independent consultant or advisor. Ultimately, it comes down to what type of career path you are hoping to pursue and how important certification is for achieving your goals.

Related: Benefits Specialist Resume Examples

FAQs About Benefits Specialist Certifications

1. What is a Benefits Specialist Certification?

Answer: A Benefits Specialist Certification is a professional credential that demonstrates expertise in the field of employee benefits. It is designed to recognize individuals who have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide effective and compliant benefit plan administration.

2. What are the requirements for certification?

Answer: Requirements vary depending on the specific certification, but generally include passing a comprehensive exam, completing continuing education courses, having relevant work experience, and meeting ethical standards.

3. How long does it take to become certified?

Answer: The amount of time needed to become certified depends on an individual’s experience level and how quickly they can complete the necessary coursework and exams. On average, it can take anywhere from six months to two years to become certified.

4. How much does it cost to become certified?

Answer: The cost of becoming certified varies depending on the certifying organization and what materials or resources are needed for completion of the program. Generally, costs range from $100-$500+ for materials and exams fees.

5. Are there any online programs available?

Answer: Yes, many organizations offer online programs as well as in-person classes or seminars for certification preparation. Online programs often provide self-paced learning opportunities with interactive content and practice tests that can help prepare individuals for certification exams.