An employee benefit consultant assists employers in finding the most compatible benefits packages for the company. These consultants determine employer objectives and budget and then find the best program matches. They also provide additional or continued benefit education, customer service, technical support, and communication between the employer and benefit company. An employee benefit consultant may work at a human resources or consulting firm, in-house at a corporation, or as a freelancer.
A variety of job duties are required of an employee benefit consultant. Some days are spent researching new legislation to determine how it may affect certain plans. Other days may include developing new groups of plans to present to an employer. A consultant may travel to multiple company offices to explain the different benefits packages to the employees, as well. They answer customer inquiries and ensure the enrollment process goes as smoothly as possible.
Good interpersonal skills are an essential requirement for an employee benefit consultant. Not only does the consultant interact with the company's administrative personnel, but also with individuals throughout the company. He or she must be able to explain the formalities of each plan and to make suggestions according to needs. A consultant also needs good math skills and the ability to think quickly. These skills are helpful in developing pension plans and ensuring that plans don't go over budget.
Some benefit consultants are responsible for keeping track of claims made and continuously updating the company's database. Of course, the typical workday depends on whether the individual is an in-house or external consultant. In-house consultants typically work for large corporations and have additional human-resources-type responsibilities on top of the benefit consulting. External benefit consultants, however, work with small to midsize companies, helping them develop and implement plans at open enrollment time. External consultants may also have the task of finding and signing on new accounts for the firm.
There is not a specific degree that qualifies an individual to be an employee benefit consultant. Although a bachelor's degree is typically one of the requirements for this type of position, benefit consultant is not usually an entry-level job. Some employers prefer a master's degree in human resources, while others require years of experience.