Can You Be a Retirement Plan Educator?

Investing News

If you’re interested in retirement – either because you are planning your own, or because you find the subject fascinating – you might have wondered if you can share your knowledge in a formal way. The good news is that this is certainly possible – there are courses that help people learn about retirement, led by specialists in the field.

The bad news? Most people don’t get their retirement advice from courses. Instead, they’ll consult a professional retirement planner who can offer them individual advice on their portfolio, and educate them along the way. That’s why most of the educators who teach courses on retirement planning were once Certified Financial Planners (CFPs), and why this might be a better route to take if you are looking to build a career in retirement planning.

Key Takeaways

  • There are courses on retirement planning, taught by educators with specialist knowledge of retirement accounts, strategies, and taxes. 
  • Most of these educators will have spent some time working as a financial advisor or planner, and may well hold a professional certification like the CFP qualification. 
  • In other words, becoming a retirement educator is likely to involve becoming a retirement planner or advisor first, and this is likely to involve landing a job with a company that both provides retirement advice and is willing to train you to do the same.

Retirement Educators, Advisors, and Planners

People get retirement advice in a variety of ways. Some turn to retirement planning courses, taught by full- or part-time educators. Others ask their family, friends, or colleagues for advice. Most, however, will use a combination of individual research and professional advice.

Professional advice on retirement is often provided by a retirement planner. A retirement planner is a financial planner who specializes in helping people to prepare a retirement plan and live out their final years financially secure. As implied in the name, these professionals focus on what the client’s needs will be once they stop working. That means ensuring not only that retirees have a big-enough pension to live comfortably, but also addressing other requirements such as estate planning and insurance.

Some financial planners specialize in just one area of finance such as retirement, but others are generalists. The most commonly held professional designation for planners is certified financial planner (CFP®), issued by the CFP Board, the nonprofit certifying and standards-setting organization that administers the CFP exam.

There are other sources of professional advice, however. A financial advisor can often give advice on retirement topics as well. A “financial advisor” is a much broader term than financial planner, and can refer to nearly any professional who advises people on their finances, including certified financial planners. This is an important, and often confusing, distinction: every financial planner is a financial advisor, but not every financial advisor is a financial planner.

Both financial planners and advisors are, in a sense, educators as well. They help individuals understand their retirement needs, and how they can achieve them. Many CFPs also teach courses on retirement planning – delivering the same advice in a classroom as they would to individuals.

Most people turn to retirement planners or retirement advisors for advice on their retirement plans. Retirement planners and advisors are financial planners or advisors that have specialized in retirement planning, and often have professional certification. Most retirement planning courses are taught by professional advisors or planners. 

Sharing Your Retirement Expertise

Given the range of ways in which people seek retirement advice, it follows that there are a range of ways in which to become a retirement educator.

  • If you are looking to build a career in retirement planning, apply for a position at a company that offers this service. This could be a huge financial company like Fidelity or Vanguard, or a smaller local firm that specializes in retirement advice. You’ll likely need a college degree to get a job like this, but then this type of company might well pay for you to train, and even gain a CFP certification.
  • Alternatively, you could pay for your own education, and become a freelance financial planner who specializes in retirement. You can even self-fund the courses required to become a CFP, although they can be expensive. This is a fairly high-risk route, however, because you’ll essentially be running your own business, and without an impressive range of qualifications and experience, people may be understandably reticent to hire you.
  • Another option is to find a company that offers courses on retirement planning, and apply to become a teacher for them. During your research, however, you’ll likely see that most of the educators for this kind of course came from one of the two backgrounds we’ve mentioned – they either worked for a company that provides retirement services and advice, or were a CFP. 
  • A less advisable option is to simply start dispensing retirement advice. There is nothing stopping you from sharing your expertise on retirement planning online, or with your friends and colleagues. You should, however, be aware that managing someone else’s money for them, including their retirement portfolio, can be very risky.

What Is a Retirement Planner or Advisor?

A retirement planner is a financial planner who specializes in helping people to prepare a retirement plan and live out their final years financially secure. A retirement advisor is a broader definition, covering anyone who offers advice on retirement planning.

Are There Retirement Educators?

There are courses on retirement planning, and these are generally taught by people who have previously been retirement planners or advisors. 

How Much Does a Financial Advisor Make?

The amount that a financial advisor makes depends on a variety of factors, such as their experience, the region in which they work, their types of clients, the types of products they sell, and the type of financial advice they provide. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, the median pay of a financial advisor was $94,170 per year, or $45.27 an hour.

The Bottom Line

There are courses on retirement planning, taught by educators with specialist knowledge of retirement accounts, strategies, and taxes. Most of these educators will have spent some time working as a financial advisor or planner, and may well hold a professional certification like the CFP qualification. 

In other words, becoming a retirement educator is likely to involve becoming a retirement planner or advisor first, and this is likely to involve landing a job with a company that both provides retirement advice and is willing to train you to do the same.

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