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Understanding Common Job Benefits

Benefits can make the compensation package for a particular job even more valuable, as they increase the value of what you receive from your new employer. As you search for jobs, take the time to understand benefits and how they affect the value of a potential job offer.

Health Care Plans

The National Compensation Study conducted through the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that 71 percent of employers offer medical care plans, with just over 50 percent of workers in the private sector taking advantage of these offers. This means that most job opportunities you see will have a health insurance program attached to them.

When evaluating a healthcare plan, look at all aspects of the program. Does it cover your entire family, or just you as the employed individual? What types of medical care are covered? What are the costs you are responsible for, including premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. Also evaluate the availability of the doctors you prefer, the maximum benefit amounts, and prescription drug coverage. These types of costs will impact the total value of the program.

Retirement Plans

Retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans, are a common part of most benefits packages. If you opt to deposit some of your paycheck into a 401(k), then that amount is not considered taxable income. You will not pay income tax on that money until you withdraw it in retirement, and it also earns interest. This type of tax shelter makes saving for retirement more appealing.

While most employers will offer 401(k) plans, some will go a step further by offering employer-matching contributions. With a matching plan, the money you put into the program will be matched by a contribution from your employer, earning you an immediate return on your investment.

Health Savings Accounts

Of necessity, some employers must offer high deductible insurance plans in order to save money on insurance premiums. To help make these plans more convenient and affordable to their employees, they may offer health savings accounts as part of their benefits packages. These accounts hold your money as a normal savings account would, but the money is placed into the account tax-free. The tax benefit remains as long as the money is used for health related expenses. Some employers add their own contributions into these plans, creating an even more valuable benefit.

Stock Option Plans

If the position you are applying for is with a publicly traded company, you may be offered a stock option plan. Jobs with this benefit are less common, as only 8 percent of companies offer stock options according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In general stock options are call options to buy stock in a company at a stated price. You are given the option to purchase the stock at a low rate, such as $5-$10 a share. When the value of the stock rises, you have the option to sell and pocket the overage. If the value of the stock drops, you receive no financial benefit.

These are four of the most common benefits offered in jobs today, and they add to the value of your compensation plan significantly. When searching for good paying jobs, do not neglect to consider the benefits, as sometimes a strong benefits package makes a lower salary worth considering. Knowing what to look for will help you make an informed decision about the next job offer you have on the table.