What Is CCP Certification?

CCP Certification is the certification needed to become a Certified Compensation Professional (CCP). This is a designation that demonstrates that you possess the essential knowledge to integrate compensation programs with business strategy, design, and administer base and variable pay programs. It also verifies that you comply with legal and regulatory requirements, and you effectively communicate compensation information. The Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) designation is known as a mark of expertise and excellence in the fundamentals of compensation.

Compensation is a key element in all total rewards strategies. The CCP gives the employee and their employer confidence in their job skills and sets them apart in today's competitive world. It is earned after obtaining a passing score for all required exams.

Becoming a Certified Compensation Professional

A Certified Compensation Professional certificate requires candidates to pass a number of tests that are extremely long and cumbersome. There are 90 multiple choice question with about four hours, or an afternoon, to complete them. An applicant must get at least a 75 percent score to pass and therefore must figure out a study plan or be open to the different types of methodologies.

Once learned, you can apply those methodologies or different approaches to compensation on situations and companies, so it's definitely tedious work that is beneficial in the end. Earning a CCP is valuable, especially to people interested in the compensation portion of HR, as compensation is a huge piece of HR.

Compensation Professional Requirements:

  • Applicant must have their career goals in line with the potential rewards of the position.
  • Applicant must have the right combination of abilities and skills.
  • Applicant must pursue study and certification.

Compensation Management

A great compensation program will attract the right people, reward the right behaviors, and retain valued employees. A compensation professional is charged with making sure the compensation costs are aligned with the business culture, philosophy, and objectives.

A compensation specialist, also called a remuneration professional, holds a number of responsibilities:

  • calculates overall compensation for employees
  • maintains databases for compensation structure
  • produces job post descriptions
  • benchmarks the compensation outside of the organization 
  • coordinates employee performance reviews annually

A compensation specialist occasionally is responsible for structuring employee benefits. As compensation specialists move forward in their careers, their job duties become less administrative and more strategic.

Senior Compensation Specialists

A compensation specialist in a senior position will develop and maintain compensation plans with the objective of linking overall performance and company goals with pay (both sales incentive pay plans and compensation earned by executives). However, the main responsibility of any compensation specialist is to efficiently and effectively manage the company's rewards and compensation programs.

This strategic role is important. "They [compensation professionals] spend a lot of time benchmarking and keeping job documentation up-to-date, strategizing how to tie pay to performance. Even if there are no desires or plans to specialize in one particular area, the training and skills required for compensation management can benefit an organization's HR generalist.”

Compensation Professional as a Career

Becoming a compensation specialist offers some impressive career rewards. The field of compensation is so specialized that there are plenty of options in the job market, as companies are often pressured to comply with corporate governance regulations and need to account for all payroll spent.

On average, compensation professionals earn higher salaries than HR generalists or any other HR specialty, according to the 2003 Human Resource Management Compensation Survey, conducted by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Compensation managers receive an annual median salary of $97,800, whereas HR managers receive $91,400.

Another reason to consider this specialty is because of the nature of their work; compensation professionals are exposed to the highest levels of management. Compensation specialists spend more time with senior management than other mid-level HR professionals, which can translate into more prestige and visibility. The performance of the business is directly related to your work, and that's a big benefit.

Compensation professionals also get to meet interesting people and get great exposure, A compensation specialist's "contribution is respected and listened to by senior executives." Perks may be compelling, but keep in mind that choosing to become a compensation specialist might preclude working at smaller organizations.

What Type of Company Does a Compensation Professional Work For?

compensation specialist role is typically found in the 1,000-plus employee-sized organization. In smaller organizations, this responsibility would be taken care of by a more generalized HR person, the finance department, or a general manager. At larger organizations, there can be a dozen compensation professionals or more.

Most of the time, compensation specialists report to the head of HR. "Normally, in a 1,000-plus organization, you would have an analyst reporting to a compensation and benefits manager who reports to the head of HR. The larger the organization, the more [compensation specialists] you have in the lower levels," says a CEO of a training company in Carefree, Arizona.

Potential Drawbacks

One possible drawback is that compensation may not move you all the way up the HR ladder. This, of course, depends on your long-range goals. There are two separate career paths for a compensation specialist:

1.The corporate environment


In corporate, quite often a compensation specialist will come on board as a generalist, move into being a compensation specialist, move up the ranks, and there is little movement thereafter. Somewhere along the line, a specialist has to move back into the generalist rank as senior vice presidents of HR tend to be the generalists and vice presidents of compensation report to them.

Another drawback is that compensation professionals can get so specialized and consumed that they don't have the same opportunities as an HR generalist. To know a little bit about everything may work for someone in taking over the whole HR function, and a compensation specialist doesn't have as broad of a position.

Industry experts do agree that having a consultant with compensation experience could take you there. Smaller organizations often outsource compensation, so there it's quite popular to market for compensation advisers externally.

Qualities of Compensation Specialists

A compensation specialist must have strong analytical abilities, as the job requires a lot of analytical capability. Trends, surveys, and spreadsheets are just some of the items that need to be analyzed to determine what a compensation strategy is going to be.

Strong numerical skills are also a plus. Compensation people tend to be numbers-oriented. There's quite a bit of quantitative analysis involved in the day-to-day activities.

A compensation specialist must be an analytical person who loves to crunch numbers to determine what business decisions should be made. Some other qualities of a great compensation specialist include:

  • Eager to improve systems and processes
  • A detail-orientated person
  • Boast managerial skills
  • Highly technical with a lot of research and interpretation of data

Compensation requires not only a knowledge of numbers, but also of people and how a determined compensation fits into the overall behavioral environment and objectives of the company.

Exceptional communication skills are also key. Compensation professionals need to interact with other executives and employees, being comfortable enough to produce and deliver oral presentations to management.

Discretion and ethics also come into play. Compensation specialists need to be discreet since they deal with confidential information day in and day out. A compensation specialist must know when information is sensitive and also know when there will be layoffs, as they are responsible for the design and setup of severance packages.

Compensation Certification

Certification isn't an obligation for compensation specialists, but it is becoming more common. Employers often require it for those just entering the field to have them start with a minimum standard of knowledge.

A younger compensation specialist tends to have certification more often than an experienced compensation specialist. However, certification requirements will likely increase as more companies are looking for certain credentials and ask to verify a candidate's qualifications. Indicative of the importance and complexity of the specialty, there are four U.S. compensation-related certifications:




4.Compensation Management Specialist (CMS)

CCP and GRP certifications are offered by WorldatWork; CEBS and CMS certifications are offered by the IFEBP. CEBS is a joint program of the IFEBP and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. It's like having an undergraduate degree that's concentrated in employee benefits.

What Does Each Program Entail?

The CCP designation assesses strategic and functional competence in rewards management, with the primary focus on compensation. There are six core examinations plus three elective examinations that assess the applicant's competence of compensation on nine 100-question multiple-choice examinations.

HR professionals need to decide whether they want a specialization in domestic or international compensation planning. An individual also needs to determine whether it is crucial to learn both benefits and compensation management or just compensation.

Compensation and benefits are somewhat linked, but not all companies group them together. The CEBS program covers both benefits and compensation, but the CCP program covers compensation only. HR professionals need to consider how much detail they would like to cover and how much time they have available to complete the courses.

In total, it will take around two to three years to become a CCP. You can take the two-day class offered by WorldatWork before the third morning exam or you can self-study. One could probably self-study out of the job description module, but other modules, like the statistical, are much more difficult. It is possible to take the exams more than once.

The classes are taught by experienced compensation professionals, and there is always the opportunity to self-study for all nine exams. The downside? You would miss out on the face-to-face time and networking that you'd get from attending the in-class courses. Do it for the experience and the opportunity for interaction, not for the certification!

Other Requirements

Compensation professionals need to have 12 continuing education units (CEUs). They can get credit in a variety of ways, which include (but are not limited to):

  • being a member of our organization
  • attending classes or conferences
  • work projects
  • publishing
  • teaching

In the end, compensation specialists choose their education path according to their immediate needs.

Plotting a Career in Compensation

Compensation professionals' career paths are varied, but typically begin in the HR world. Within compensation, there are many subcategories, like sales incentive compensation and executive compensation. While executive compensation is important, it's not a popular specialty.

Switching to the compensation specialty from another area of HR is possible, but timing is key.

HR professionals who have the interest, stamina, and mathematical abilities to complete certification training establish a standard of excellence in this specialized field. Every HR person ought to learn enough about compensation to understand what impact it has on staffing and development, performance management, and the rest of HR.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and its affiliate, the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI), and both are headquartered in Virginia. There are also other organizations that offer compensation courses for HR generalists. Many compensation certification courses qualify as recertification credits, so you may want to consider taking one to keep your certification up to date.

Certificate or Certification?

A "certificate" and a "certification" may sound like the same thing, but they are vastly different. Plus, some companies offer certificates, but not certification.

A certificate merely states you have completed a certain course or group of courses. In contrast, certification means that you have passed one or more examinations developed by a professional organization in your field.

Some organizations offer compensation programs that individuals may undertake either instead of certification or while they are pursuing certification. The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), in addition to its certification programs, offers a certificate series in topics such as compensation and benefits, and compensation management.

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