How to Become a Pension Administrator: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a pension administrator. Research the education requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in pension administration. View article »

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Pension Administrator?

Pension administrators plan and distribute retirement funds for companies. They determine eligibility, compute benefits, and keep records of pension plans for retirees. Travel and overtime might be required for pension administrators. A bachelor's degree, human resources experience, accounting experience, and an optional Accredited Pension Administrator (APA) designation are important steps toward becoming a pension administrator. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median annual salary of $60,850 for compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists in May 2015.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree preferred
Degree Field Business, human resources, finance, or related field
Certification Many employers prefer Accredited Pension Administrator (APA) designation
Experience At least three years of experience
Key Skills Attention to detail, interpersonal skills, speaking skills
Salary (2015) $60,850 (median for compensation, benefits and job analysis specialists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job postings (August 2015)

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Steps to Become a Pension Administrator

Let's see what steps you'll need to take to become a pensions administrator.

Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor's Degree

Most pension administrators hold at least a bachelor's degree, and many employers prefer applicants with degrees. A Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) or a bachelor's degree in economics, accounting, computer science, or human resources provides the candidate with the education and experience to perform the tasks of a pension administrator. Common courses in these programs include business law, cost management, finance, microeconomics, macroeconomics, and organizational behavior. The Occupational Information Network (ONET) reported that 89% of compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists held bachelor's degrees in 2010.

Success Tip

  • Complete an internship. An internship provides real-world professional experience that can prove useful for securing a job upon graduation. Many pension administrator positions require previous experience. Additionally, one may have the opportunity to learn about some of the types of pension plans and network with others in the field.

Step 2: Gain Professional Experience

Many companies look to hire candidates who have worked in either accounting or human resources for several years. These fields provide relevant work experience. Database use, familiarity with accounting procedures, and excellent communication skills are essential to performing the tasks of a pension administrator. By taking an entry-level human resources or accounting position, an individual will have an opportunity to gain work experience and skills while observing the kinds of responsibilities benefits managers or pension administrators handle on a daily basis.

Step 3: Earn APA or Other Designations

The National Institute of Pension Administrators (NIPA) offers the designation of APA. Though this designation is not required, the exam required to earn it tests the knowledge of the potential pension administrator and shows his/her level of professional competency to prospective employers. This designation may enhance one's job prospects. NIPA offers the exam online, where it is taken in four parts after completion of the self-study program that is also provided on NIPA's website. The American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries also offers certification for pension administrators. An individual can become a Qualified Pension Administrator (QPA) with two years of professional experience, the successful completion of six exams, and the payment of a membership fee. An individual with the QPA designation must also complete at least 40 continuing education credits within a 2-year period.

To become a pension administrator, you'll need a bachelor's degree and experience in accounting or human resources.

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