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Top 10 Compensation Manager Certifications

Photo of Brenna Goyette
Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Updated 19 min read

Certifications are important for a compensation manager in the job market because they demonstrate to potential employers that the individual has been trained and is knowledgeable about the field. Certifications show that the individual possesses specific skills necessary for success in the role, such as knowledge of labor laws and regulations, understanding of compensation strategies, and ability to analyze data. Furthermore, certifications can give an individual an edge in the job market by setting them apart from other applicants who may not have the same level of expertise or qualifications.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Compensation Managers and explains how they can contribute to a compensation manager's career development.

What are Compensation Manager Certifications?

Compensation Manager Certification is a professional certification program designed to help individuals develop the skills and knowledge necessary to become successful compensation managers. This certification provides an in-depth understanding of compensation principles, practices, and strategies. It also provides guidance on how to implement effective pay programs for employees, as well as insight on how to evaluate employee performance and reward employees for their contributions.

The program covers topics such as job analysis, benchmarking, salary surveys, pay structures, developing incentive plans, creating bonus plans, implementing total rewards programs, administering compensation systems and policies, evaluating performance management systems, and dealing with legal issues related to compensation. The certification allows individuals to demonstrate their knowledge of these topics by passing an exam administered by a third-party organization such as the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI).

By obtaining Compensation Manager Certification individuals are able to show potential employers that they have the skills necessary to manage compensation effectively. This can be beneficial when applying for jobs or negotiating salaries with current employers. Having this certification may also provide access to higher-level positions within companies that require specialized knowledge in this area. Additionally, individuals who possess this certification may be viewed as more credible resources when consulting with clients or colleagues on matters related to compensation management.

Pro Tip: When considering a compensation manager certification, make sure to research the certifying organization to ensure that it is well-regarded in the industry and offers an up-to-date curriculum. Additionally, look into any prerequisites for the certification, such as previous experience or knowledge in the field of compensation management.

Related: What does a Compensation Manager do?

Top 10 Compensation Manager Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Compensation Managers today.

1. Certified Compensation Professional (CCP)

Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) is a professional certification for those who work in the field of compensation and benefits. It is administered by WorldatWork, a global human resources association.

The CCP certification requires knowledge in all aspects of compensation including job analysis, pay structure design, incentive plans, and total rewards strategies. It also requires an understanding of legal compliance and international issues related to compensation.

To become certified, applicants must have at least three years of experience in compensation or related fields, pass a three-hour exam, and take a one-day workshop on total rewards strategies. Applicants may also be required to complete additional coursework if they do not meet the experience requirements.

The cost for the CCP certification varies depending on whether you are a member or non-member of WorldatWork. For members, it costs $1,395 for the exam and workshop; for non-members it costs $1,595. The renewal fee is $450 every three years.

2. WorldatWork Certified Compensation Professional (WCCP)

WorldatWork Certified Compensation Professional (WCCP) is a certification that recognizes the expertise of professionals in the field of compensation and benefits. It is designed to validate an individual’s knowledge, skills, and abilities in the areas of job analysis, salary administration, performance management, employee benefits, and total rewards.

The WCCP certification requires a minimum of three years of professional experience in the field of compensation and benefits. The certification process consists of two parts: an online assessment and an in-person or virtual panel interview. The assessment tests knowledge in the areas mentioned above as well as topics such as change management, communication strategies, and legal compliance. The panel interview is conducted by a group of experienced professionals who evaluate the candidate’s ability to apply their knowledge to real-world situations.

The cost for obtaining the WCCP certification varies depending on which type of program you choose. The WorldatWork website offers self-study programs that range from $1,195 to $2,395 USD; instructor-led online programs that range from $2,495 to $3,295 USD; and instructor-led classroom programs that range from $2,795 to $3,795 USD.

In order to become certified as a WCCP professional it typically takes between 6 months and 1 year depending on your learning style and availability for study time.

3. Certified Executive Compensation Professional (CECP)

Certified Executive Compensation Professional (CECP) is a professional certification program offered by WorldatWork, a global human resources association. The CECP credential is designed to recognize professionals who have demonstrated expertise in executive compensation and total rewards.

It typically takes about six months to complete the CECP program. Candidates must first meet certain eligibility requirements, including having at least five years of experience in executive compensation or total rewards. Once these requirements are met, candidates can register for the exam and begin studying for the exam.

The cost of the CECP program varies depending on whether you are a WorldatWork member or non-member. For members, the cost is $1,295; for non-members, it is $1,595. This fee includes registration fees and study materials such as books and practice exams.

To receive the CECP designation, candidates must pass an examination that covers topics such as executive compensation strategy, design and implementation; total rewards programs; performance management; and taxation issues related to executive compensation plans. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and must be completed within three hours.

4. Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP)

The Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) is a professional certification that recognizes an individual’s knowledge, skills, and abilities in the field of human resource management. The SHRM-SCP credential is designed to demonstrate mastery of the competencies necessary for strategic HR leadership. It is one of the highest levels of professional certification available in the HR field.

To become certified as a SHRM-SCP, individuals must first meet certain eligibility requirements and then pass a comprehensive exam. Eligibility requirements include having at least three years of experience in a senior-level HR role and a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university.

The exam consists of 160 multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as business acumen, ethical practice, communication, global & cultural effectiveness, HR expertise, relationship management, and leadership & navigation. The exam takes approximately four hours to complete and can be taken at any Prometric testing center worldwide.

The cost to take the SHRM-SCP exam varies depending on location but typically ranges between $300-$400 USD. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with obtaining study materials or joining SHRM as a member prior to taking the exam.

5. International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS)

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) is a professional designation for those who specialize in employee benefits. It is awarded by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, which is an organization dedicated to providing education, research, and resources for those involved in employee benefit plans.

To become a CEBS, individuals must complete five courses and pass four examinations. The five courses are: Group Benefits Fundamentals; Retirement Plans; Health Care Benefits; Executive Compensation; and Investment Fundamentals. Each course requires approximately 30 hours of study time and can be completed online or in-person.

In order to take the exams, individuals must first become a member of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Membership fees vary depending on type of membership selected but range from $100 to $400 per year. Once membership is established, individuals can register for exams at any Prometric Testing Center or online through Prometric's website. Exam fees are $225 per exam and all four exams must be passed within three years in order to receive the CEBS designation.

Once all four exams have been successfully completed, individuals will receive their official CEBS certificate and be able to use the CEBS designation after their name.

6. American Compensation Association Fellow (ACA-Fellow)

The American Compensation Association Fellow (ACA-Fellow) is a professional designation that recognizes individuals who have achieved a high level of professional excellence in the field of compensation and benefits. The ACA-Fellow designation is awarded to those who demonstrate mastery in their field through experience, education, and/or research.

In order to qualify for the ACA-Fellow designation, applicants must meet certain criteria. These include:

  • Having at least 10 years of professional experience in the field of compensation and benefits;
  • Holding a current Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) certification from the WorldatWork organization;
  • Having earned a master’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university;
  • Passing the ACA-Fellow examination administered by WorldatWork; and
  • Submitting three letters of recommendation from industry peers.

The process to become an ACA-Fellow typically takes six months to one year to complete, depending on how quickly an applicant meets all the requirements. In order to get started, applicants must first submit an application packet which includes all relevant documents such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, and proof of CCP certification. Once this has been received, applicants will be invited to take the ACA-Fellow examination. After passing this exam, applicants will then need to submit their final application package which includes their resume and any additional supporting documentation required by WorldatWork. Upon review and acceptance by WorldatWork, applicants will be awarded the ACA-Fellow designation.

The cost for becoming an ACA-Fellow varies depending on whether or not you are already a member of WorldatWork. If you are not currently a member, there is a one time fee of $250 plus annual dues starting at $125 per year. If you are already a member, then there is no additional fee beyond your annual dues.

7. Human Resources Certification Institute Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)

The Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) is a certification offered by the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI). It is the highest level of professional certification for human resources professionals and is designed to recognize their expertise and demonstrate their commitment to excellence in the field. The SPHR certification is recognized and respected worldwide as a mark of excellence in human resources management.

To be eligible for the SPHR, you must have at least four years of experience in a senior-level HR position and pass an exam that covers topics such as strategic management, workforce planning, employee relations, compensation and benefits administration, organizational development, risk management, and labor law compliance. The exam consists of 160 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately three hours to complete.

To get your SPHR certification, you must first meet the eligibility requirements outlined by HRCI. Once you have met those requirements, you can register for the exam online or by mail. Exam fees vary depending on your location; however, they typically range from $400-$500 USD. After passing the exam, you will receive your official SPHR certificate within 6-8 weeks.

The cost of becoming certified includes registration fees for the exam as well as any study materials or courses required to prepare for it. Depending on which study materials or courses you choose to use, this cost can range from around $200-$1,000 USD.

8. International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists Senior Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (SCEBS)

The International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS) Senior Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (SCEBS) is a professional designation that recognizes the expertise of experienced employee benefits professionals. It is the highest level of certification offered by ISCEBS and requires a comprehensive understanding of employee benefit plans, regulations, and strategies.

It takes three years to become an SCEBS. To qualify for this designation, individuals must first become a Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) by completing five courses from the CEBS program and passing all related exams. Once CEBS-certified, individuals can then apply for the SCEBS program. The SCEBS program consists of two additional courses and exams that focus on advanced topics in employee benefits such as retirement planning, health care reform, and executive compensation.

To get the SCEBS designation, individuals must have at least three years of experience in employee benefits or related fields; pass both courses with a grade of 70% or higher; submit proof of their CEBS certification; pay applicable fees; and complete an ethics course within two years prior to applying for the SCEBS designation.

The cost to obtain the SCEBS designation varies depending on whether you are an ISCEBS member or non-member. For members, it costs $1,175 USD to register for both courses while non-members pay $1,425 USD. There may also be additional fees associated with taking each course exam which range from $50-$200 USD depending on whether you are a member or non-member.

9. International Association of Business Communicators Certified Business Communicator (CBC)

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Certified Business Communicator (CBC) is a professional certification program that recognizes the expertise and accomplishments of experienced business communicators. The CBC designation is awarded to individuals who demonstrate mastery in the areas of communication strategy, planning, implementation, measurement, and evaluation.

To become a CBC, applicants must have at least five years of professional experience in business communication and be able to demonstrate mastery in the following areas:

  • Communication Strategy: Understanding how to develop effective communication strategies for different audiences and situations.
  • Planning: Knowing how to create plans that are aligned with organizational objectives and strategies.
  • Implementation: Having the ability to execute plans effectively.
  • Measurement & Evaluation: Being able to measure results against objectives and evaluate success.

It typically takes about six months from start to finish for an applicant to complete the process of becoming a CBC. The first step is to submit an application form along with supporting documentation such as letters of recommendation, transcripts, and work samples. Once these materials have been reviewed by IABC staff, applicants will be invited to take a comprehensive exam which tests their knowledge in all five areas mentioned above. Upon successful completion of the exam, applicants will be awarded their CBC designation.

The cost for applying for the CBC designation varies depending on whether you are an IABC member or non-member. For members, it costs $395 USD while non-members pay $495 USD.

10. American Society for Training and Development Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF)

The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) certification is a professional credential that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and abilities to provide career development services. The GCDF certification is based on the National Standards for Career Development Facilitators developed by the National Career Development Association (NCDA).

To get the GCDF certification, you must complete a minimum of 60 hours of training. This training includes instruction in career development theory, facilitation skills, and assessment tools. You must also pass an exam administered by ASTD to demonstrate your mastery of the material. The cost for this training varies depending on where you take it; however, ASTD estimates that it will cost between $1,500 and $2,000 to become certified.

Once you have completed your training and passed the exam, you will receive a certificate from ASTD recognizing your achievement. The GCDF certification is valid for five years; after that time period has elapsed, you must renew your certification by completing additional continuing education courses or other activities approved by ASTD.

Overall, becoming a GCDF requires significant time and effort but can be extremely rewarding as it demonstrates your commitment to helping others reach their career goals.

Do You Really Need a Compensation Manager Certificate?

The answer to this question depends on your individual goals and circumstances. Some employers may require a Compensation Manager Certificate, either for the job itself or for advancement in the company, while other employers may not. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide if obtaining a Compensation Manager Certificate is right for you.

If you are looking to gain an edge over other applicants in the job market, having a certificate could be beneficial. It demonstrates that you have specialized knowledge and skills related to compensation management, which can help make you stand out from the competition. Additionally, it may provide opportunities for promotion into higher-level positions within an organization. A certificate can also be helpful if you are looking to switch career paths; having a certification can make it easier to transition into a new field with confidence.

On the other hand, if your current employer does not require a certification or if you are already working in compensation management, obtaining one may not be necessary. In this case, it could be more cost effective and time efficient to focus on developing your skills through other means such as attending seminars or taking online courses related to compensation management.

In conclusion, whether or not you need to obtain a Compensation Manager Certificate depends on your particular situation and goals. Consider researching potential employers’ requirements and weighing the potential benefits of obtaining a certificate before making a decision that is best for you.

Related: Compensation Manager Resume Examples

FAQs About Compensation Manager Certifications

1. What is a Compensation Manager Certification?

Answer: A Compensation Manager Certification is a certification program that provides individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to manage compensation plans and strategies in an organization. This includes understanding labor laws, regulations, and best practices related to pay, benefits, job analysis, salary surveys, performance management, and more.

2. How do I become certified as a Compensation Manager?

Answer: To become certified as a Compensation Manager, you must typically complete a certification program that covers topics such as labor laws, regulations, job analysis, salary surveys, performance management, and more. Additionally, some certifications require passing an exam or completing other requirements for successful completion of the program.

3. What are the benefits of becoming a Certified Compensation Manager?

Answer: Benefits of becoming a Certified Compensation Manager include increased knowledge and understanding of labor laws and regulations related to compensation; improved ability to communicate compensation plans and strategies; increased credibility with employers; potential career advancement opportunities; and increased earning potential.

4. How long does it take to become certified as a Compensation Manager?

Answer: The amount of time it takes to become certified as a Compensation Manager varies depending on the type of certification program chosen and any additional requirements needed for successful completion of the program (such as exams). Generally speaking however, most certification programs can be completed in 6-12 months.

5. Are there any prerequisites for becoming certified as a Compensation Manager?

Answer: Yes - most certification programs have some prerequisites before enrolling in their courses or taking their exam(s). These prerequisites may include having prior professional experience in human resources or finance-related roles or having completed specific educational courses related to compensation management or human resources management.