There are no specific certificate or degree programs in benefits administration, but payroll certificate programs are available. Students learn hiring policies, distribution of health plans and how payroll systems function. Typically, programs only require a high school diploma or GED for admission.
Many graduates of payroll certificate programs apply for certification from an organization of payroll professionals. While not mandatory, professional certification proves competency in the field and may lead to career advancement.
The courses most often found within a payroll certificate program train students about the various types of health plans, stock options and other benefits available to employees in the workplace. Some programs offer specific training for payroll processors and benefits administrators who provide transactions for non-American employees. Course topics might include:
- Payroll and personnel overview
- Reviewing and updating employee databases
- Payroll time reporting
- Monitoring and distributing employee benefits
- Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax workshop
- Overview of immigration policies
Employment Outlook and Career Info
Payroll and timekeeping clerks held roughly 150,400 jobs in the United States in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The number of employed payroll clerks was expected to decrease by 3% between 2018 and 2028. The median annual salary for payroll clerks and timekeeping clerks was $45,050 in May 2018.
While certification is not necessarily required to gain a position as a payroll clerk or benefits administrator, it is available from organizations such as the American Payroll Association. The association offers the Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) designation and the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) designation for individuals who complete an examination proving their competency with payroll systems and procedures. The FPC is geared more towards individuals at the beginning of their careers, while the CPP is for individuals who have a great deal of experience in payroll and benefits administration. The CPP also appeals to those who are looking to move up the ladder or gain more managerial roles.
Although benefits administration courses aren't commonly offered, students can study towards a payroll certificate program. Classes in payroll time reporting and employee benefits will prepare graduates for a career within benefits administration.