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How to Become a Health Benefits Administrator: Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a health benefits administrator. Research the job duties and education requirements and find out how to start a career in benefits administration. View article »

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Health Benefits Administrator

Health benefits administrators manage an organization's health care benefits, including their medical, dental, vision, and flexible spending plans. They usually work within a human resources department where they negotiate rates with insurance companies, implement group plans within the organization, and guide employees through the benefits process.

These types of professionals generally work in comfortable office settings. Jobs are usually available on a full-time basis, and some workers must put in overtime hours. Although health benefits administrators are human resources professionals, they must also have good knowledge of the health insurance industry.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Human resource management or related area
Experience Varies with employer; experience in human resources and insurance desirable
Licensure and Certification Voluntary certification available
Key Skills Communication, research, analytical, and strong negotiation skills; knowledge of insurance industry and ability to use specialized software
Median Salary (2015) $111,430 (for all benefits administrators)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2015)

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Human Resources Development
  • Labor and Industrial Relations
  • Labor Studies
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Career Steps

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Health benefits administrators need a bachelor's degree in human resources or a related field. The coursework in human resources programs address personnel management, legal aspects of human relations, and principles from business and psychology. Students can take courses in organizational management, labor relations, compensation, benefits, and employment law.

Get an Internship

You may want to consider getting an internship. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recommends that future benefits administrators complete an internship while pursuing an undergraduate degree. Many employers require health benefits administrators to have a couple years of experience, and students can get ahead by participating in one or more internships. Networking contacts can be important for obtaining a job in the human resource field. Internships can lead to networking opportunities not available in school.

Step 2: Gain Experience

Many benefits administration positions require three to five years of experience in human resources or benefits administration. Graduates might start out in an administrative role at a small organization to gain experience. Entry-level workers learn to apply the laws related to benefits administration. They also sharpen their communication and interpersonal skills and learn how to use industry-standard software programs.

Join a Professional Organization

Consider joining a professional organization. Professional organizations, such as SHRM, give benefits administrators the opportunity to build a network of other human resource professionals. They also help to keep abreast of employment law changes and to learn about job opportunities in their field.

Step 3: Advance Your Career by Earning Certification

The HR Certification Institute offers certifications that can help health benefits professionals. Benefits administrators can qualify for the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification with a bachelor's degree and two years of experience; some candidates might be eligible with other combinations of experience and education. The required exam covers principles in labor relations, workforce planning and compensation. Candidates with additional experience become eligible for more advanced certifications.

In addition, benefits administrators can earn the Certified Benefits Professional (CBP) designation through the WorldatWork Society of Certified Professionals by passing a series of seven exams related to rewards management, health plans, and benefits regulation.

Consider Additional Courses

You may want to consider taking additional courses and participating in education activities. Some organizations require certification holders to complete a certain number of continuing education credits to keep their designation. To earn these credits, benefits administrators can take classes, teach, participate in public speaking events, and/or attend workshops.

To recap, with a postsecondary degree, experience, and possibly certification, a health benefits administrator can earn about $111,000 a year to manage an organization's health care benefits including their medical, dental, vision, and flexible spending plans.

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