Certified Total Rewards Specialist

CTRS certification is designed for early career rewards practitioners, or experienced HR practitioners with limited compensation and benefits experience. It is offered through a 3-day certification workshop.

A compensation and benefits specialist must be able to grade and price jobs. Grading involves job analysis, documentation and job evaluation, using a consistent method focused on job content. Pricing jobs involves sourcing, job matching and analyzing market benchmark data to determine market competitive pay rates. To effectively support employee benefits, a specialist needs to know and understand key concepts and terminology related to health and wellness, retirement and time-off benefits, and the needs that various benefits address. Those currently performing compensation or benefits work, as well as HR generalist, payroll, recruiting, HRIS, performance management, business partnering, analytics or HR coordinator work will be more effective and can enhance their career potential through certification as total rewards specialist.

ATRI has conducted a validation study to confirm its total rewards competency framework is aligned to the actual competencies needed for real compensation & benefits jobs in the ASEAN and broader Asia region. Validation Study findings, along with input from the ATRI Industry Panel indicate the following competencies are associated with the actual responsibilities of specialist-level total rewards practitioners in the region:

Competency Framework Summary—Specialist

Total Rewards Overview

The CTRS Workshop begins with a Total Rewards Overview on day 1. This provides and introduction and overview of the total rewards approach, essential motivation theories and overviews of base pay, incentives, benefits, work-life, recognition and growth, within the overall total rewards framework.

Job Evaluation

Competencies include job evaluation purpose and approach, use of job descriptions and org charts, selection of job evaluation methods and ability use ranking, classification and scored approaches, validation of evaluation results, addressing implementation challenges and communicating results.

Benchmarking and Salary Structures

Competencies include explaining the use of benchmark data, evaluation and selection of data sources in the ASEAN context, job matching and data submission/participation, market analysis methods; pay structure types and development of regressed and non-regressed structures; annual maintenance of pay structures.

Core Benefits

Competencies include explaining the purpose and objectives of benefits, consideration of all stakeholders, legal compliance and ethical considerations, mandatory and company-sponsored benerits, healthcare benefits, retirement benefits and time off benefits, all in the ASEAN context; advising employees and managers appropriately.

Specialist Reward Competencies

Competencies include compliance with pay and benefits laws in key ASEAN locations, working with employee information, working within the HR function, and essential soft skills for rewards specialists.


The CTRS exam is offered on day 3 of the 3-day certification workshop. It is taken online, and participants may use their laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Specialist certification requires successful participation in the three-day CTRS certification workshop, passing the CTRS exam with a score of 70% or above (28 out of 40 exam items.) There is also an experience requirement, involving submission of a current resume/CV or LinkedIn profile. Candidates must have a minimum of one (1) year of relevant practical experience, including corporate, consulting or service provider experience, as long as there is evidence of competency in a range of areas within the competency framework.

Upon successful completion of the three-day workshop and the exam, the ATRI instructor will recommend confirmation as a Certified Total Rewards Specialist. If there is a deficiency of competence based on exam failure or lack of relevant work experience the instructor will advise the candidate to supplement their learning or experience, and the candidate may retake the exam online within 2 weeks of the unsuccessful attempt at no additional cost.

Certification does not expire, but remains current as long as the rewards practitioner remains active in the total rewards field or in a general HR role that involves rewards issues. Evidence of currency is required and reminders will be sent to certified individuals with instructions.