Retirement Planning Specialist: Salary and Career Facts

Get information on the job duties of a retirement planning specialist. Learn about education requirements, certification, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Retirement Planning Specialist?

Retirement planning specialists focus on individuals' financial planning for retirement, but the scope of their work fits under the classification of personal financial advisor or financial analyst. Retirement planning specialists meet with their clients and will usually discuss long-term goals and how their clients plan on spending their retirement. This will help determine what kind of investments and services the specialist can recommend. Once clients have established accounts and investments, retirement planning specialists will monitor their accounts closely to see if any adjustments or changes need to be made.

These professionals must communicate well with their clients to explain their options and answer any questions that they may have. Find out about education, licensing and job requirements, as well as the outlook and salary for this type of work. The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Licensing Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
Education Field of Study Accounting, finance, law, business, mathematics
Key Responsibilities Create financial plans, manage portfolios, make investments
Job Growth (2014-24) 30%* (personal financial advisors)
Median Salary (2015) $80,310* (financial analyst), $89,160* (personal financial advisors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as a Retirement Planning Specialist?

A retirement planning specialist can also be referred to as a personal financial advisor, retirement counselor, specialist in retirement planning or a financial planner. Your core responsibility would be in assisting clients to make the plans necessary to prepare for their retirement years. This can include asset allocation, portfolio management, insurance, financial planning, retirement tax preparation, estate management and making investments. You also need to be comfortable with providing customer support by being able to explain complicated financial terminology and options to your clients to help them make educated decisions about their retirement future.

What are the Education Requirements?

As a retirement planning specialist, you can expect to need at least a bachelor's degree in a related business discipline, such as business, accounting, law, finance, economics and mathematics. You can consider taking Certified Financial Planner (CFP) classes that help to prepare you to take the CFP certification exam. You may also be required by the state you are in to get licensed in securities if you plan on advising clients about the stock market.

You can also take continuing education classes and certificate programs on subjects related to retirement planning if you are looking to add to your current services. Some of the topics that can be covered in these programs are taxes, building estates, 401(k) and other retirement vehicles. The classes you take may qualify in your state towards any mandatory continuing education credits.

What Salary Could I Expect to Earn?

According to Payscale.com, personal financial advisors can earn between $38,035 and $125,126, as of January 2017 in base salary alone. With bonuses, profit sharing and commissions included, that range expands to $35,845-$177,786. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median annual wage for financial analysts, a similar position, was $80,310 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also notes that the job growth for personal financial advisors between 2014 and 2024 is much faster than average at 30 percent.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A few related jobs that require a bachelor's degree include budget analysts, financial managers and insurance underwriters. Budget analysts may work for private or public organizations. They create and closely monitor budgets for their employer. Financial managers aim to help an organization meet its long-term financial goals. They may implement policies and plans to help make this happen, as well as oversee investment activities. Insurance underwriters are the workers responsible for determining an applicant's eligibility for insurance, and the terms of the policy, which affects the price and coverage offered.

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