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Retirement Specialist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a retirement specialist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Retirement specialists require a bachelor's degree in a related field. Employers often prefer those who have passed the Series 7 financial exam. Certification is available, though usually voluntary.

Essential Information

Retirement specialists assist employees in choosing and managing pension and benefits plans. These professionals often have a background in human resources or business, and they may choose to earn employee benefits certifications that may help with career advancement.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in human resources, business or similar field
Other Requirements Some employers prefer candidates that have passed the Series 7 exam from Financial Industry Regulatory Authority; additional certifications may enhance career prospects
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5% for all human resources specialists
Mean Salary (2015)* $63,710 for all human resources specialists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for Retirement Specialists

Retirement specialists help design and implement benefit, savings and pension programs for clients, usually employees belonging to the specialist's company. They may confer with employees in person or over the phone as they design retirement plans. They typically work closely with a human resources department in an office setting.

Retirement Specialist Duties

Retirement specialists must be able to explain the complicated nature of investment, compensation and retirement packages to employees in a clear, concise fashion. They also file and process retirement plans in accordance with federal and company regulations. These professionals frequently manage electronic databases and work with complex spreadsheets. Employee benefits plans have many options, so retirement specialists must work with employees to design a plan that works best for their future plans.

Career Outlook and Salary Info

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't provide information specifically for retirement specialists, the similar category of human resource specialists was projected to see an 5% increase in employment opportunities from 2014-2024. The mean annual wage for these workers was $63,710 in May 2015.

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Requirements for Retirement Specialists

Prospective retirement specialists typically complete a bachelor's degree program in business, economics, finance or human resources. These programs generally take four years to complete and, in addition to coursework in these respective areas, students may also choose to take courses in mathematics and data management. Some employers may also prefer individuals who have passed the Series 7 examination from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and are registered as a general securities representative.

Certification Options

Retirement specialists may also choose to earn one of many voluntary certifications available for this field. For example, the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries offers the Qualified Plan Financial Consultant (QPFC) and the Certified Pension Consultant (CPC) credentials (www.asppa.org). Applicants for the QPFC credential need to have three years' retirement plan work experience and pass a series of specialty examinations. The CPC credentialing process also requires three years of relevant work experience, as well as successful completion of eight exams. Both credentials have continuing education and annual renewal requirements.

Retirement specialists may also pursue the Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) credential, which is offered by several organizations, including the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans. Candidates can pursue specialty designations, such Retirement Plans Associate, that count towards earning CEBS status. Course topics in the CEBS program include retirement plans, asset management, human resources and compensation principles. There is no time limit for completing the CEBS program, and each course requires passing an exam (www.ifebp.org).

Retirement specialists design and implement employer retirement plans, working with corporate human relations as well as individual employees. Many earn professional certifications to show they are expert in the field of retirement benefits. These professionals have a mean annual salary around $64,000, and the job outlook for these professionals is about average.

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