The Certified Employee Benefit Specialist is a professional who is an expert in employee benefits. This is a actually a designation that is available in both the United States and Canada and it implies a certain level of knowledge in the field of compensation structures. The program which certifies applicants is under the jurisdiction of the Wharton School of Business, located at the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S. and at Dalhousie University in Canada.
The certification courses offered in the U.S. cover many topics including group benefits management, healthcare financing, human resources and compensation management, retirement plan management and much more. In Canada the material covered is slightly different but the goals are the same: to train an individual who is capable of managing all aspects of employee benefits for the employing company.
The curriculum typically consists of eight courses which cover a number of topics relating to business, insurance, retirement, pension and regulatory concerns. There is no board exam administered at the end of the usual course of study. In fact, many of the topics covered for certification of employee benefit specialists are identical to those covered by Certified Financial Planners who must meet much more rigorous certification requirements.
There are both national and international certifying bodies and professional organizations. There is a test administered to those wishing to be affiliated with a particular ‘society’ of professionals upon completion of their coursework. Some also require regular continuing education classes if one wants to retain membership. It is best to ask for credentials of anyone claiming to be a CEBS before you let them handle your affairs.