CRPS Designation

Written by: Nik Ventouris

Last updated:

The chartered retirement plans specialist (CRPS) certification is a prestigious credential awarded by the College for Financial Planning to individuals who demonstrate expertise in creating, implementing, and maintaining retirement plans for businesses.

This guide provides a general overview of what the CRPS designation entails, the steps you need to take to acquire it, and the career paths it can unlock. It’ll also help you determine if the CRPS designation is the right fit for your professional aspirations based on your interests, career goals, and the industry’s demands.

What is the CRPS Designation

The CRPS designation is tailored specifically for professionals that advise businesses on implementing retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and 403(b) plans.

It requires candidates to follow a comprehensive study program that culminates in a rigorous exam testing their knowledge of topics related to retirement plans — from their establishment and operation to fiduciary responsibilities.

For many, earning the CRPS certification is a calculated move to advance their career because it not only broadens their skill set, but also positions them as experts in this specialized field of professional financial planning.

If you’re considering a career in this rewarding profession, it’s worth investing in high-quality CRPS study resources in order to equip yourself with the necessary insights, tools, and techniques required to excel.

Recommended Study Materials

Interested in starting your CRPS studies? We recommend having a look at Kaplan’s in-depth study materials.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Financial

How to Become a CRPS

In order to become a chartered retirement planning counselor, you’ll need to complete several steps.


The first step involves enrolling in the CRPS program at the College for Financial Planning. Known for its open enrollment, this program allows you to register at any time that’s convenient for you to make the process flexible and accessible.

Professional Designation Program

Next, all candidates must complete the College for Financial Planning’s online, self-study CRPS course. This intense study program will cover:

  • Different Retirement Plans: Learn about the various types and features of company appropriate retirement plans, such as IRAs, 401(k) plans, and 403(b) plans
  • Planning Details: Gain an understanding of how to design, implement, and distribute ERISA compliant plans to meet a variety of different needs
  • Key Responsibilities: Study the duties and obligations that come with managing retirement plans — also known as fiduciary responsibilities
  • Legal Compliance: Get to know the laws related to retirement plans, including the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), and how to meet the required fiduciary standards

The College for Financial Planning tailored this curriculum to provide students with a thorough overview of what they’ll need to know in order to work with retirement plans effectively.


Finally, candidates must pass the CRPS exam within 120 days of gaining access to the online course. They can take this exam online via the College for Financial Planning’s portal or in person, although the latter options may have limited availability.

However you decide to take the exam, preparation is paramount for success. Make sure you dedicate plenty of time to reviewing the course materials and practicing sample questions so you have a comprehensive understanding of the exam’s content.


Cost is another important factor to consider when looking at becoming a CRPS. Below, you’ll find a list of the major costs involved with obtaining — and maintaining — this qualification:

  • Enrollment: It costs $1,350 to enroll in the CRPS professional designation program and gain access to its course materials
  • Final Exam: The program fee listed above includes your first attempt at the examination. If you don’t pass on your first attempt, however, you may incur additional fees for subsequent attempts
  • Continuing Education: After obtaining the CRPS designation, you must complete 16 hours of continuing education (CE) every two years in order to maintain this credential. These CE courses come with varying fees
  • Renewal: Every two years, you’ll also need to pay a renewal fee after completing your CE requirements in order to retain the CRPS designation alongside your name

In the competitive landscape of financial planning, the CRPS designation remains a great way to distinguish yourself as an expert in business-focused retirement strategies to both employers and clients.

Ready to get started? StateRequirement recommends having a look at Kaplan’s study materials and resources.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Financial

Is the CRPS Designation Right For You?

When contemplating whether or not the CRPS designation is the right fit for you, it’s essential to weigh the critical factors outlined below.


The CRPS program centers on the intricacies of business-focused retirement planning, covering a range of topics from the establishment and operation of company retirement plans to fiduciary responsibilities.

If the complexities of retirement strategies intrigue you and you think you’d enjoy helping businesses secure the futures of their employees, this designation may suit you well.

Career Goals

If your career goals involve becoming an expert in business-focused retirement plan solutions, the CRPS designation also may suit you because it provides the necessary knowledge, credibility, and recognition to get started in this field.

It’s crucial to evaluate the CRPS designation in the context of your unique career goals to ensure it’ll serve you most effectively in your professional journey. The alignment of this qualification with your career aspirations will likely determine whether it’s a valuable and rewarding pursuit.

Industry Demands

When deciding if you want to pursue the CRPS designation, remember to also consider the demands and trends for financial advisors. The industry’s need for specialized skills and certifications often shifts with changes in regulations, economic conditions, and societal attitudes toward retirement planning.

Evaluating both the present and future demand for professionals with the CRPS qualification can help you determine if this certification fits your career goals. By understanding what employers in the industry seek and the importance they place on the CRPS designation, you can make an informed decision about whether or not to pursue this credential.

While the CRPS designation is a highly prestigious credential, it’s essential to ensure it aligns with your interests, career aspirations, and the evolving demands of the financial industry when deciding if it’s the right route for you.

Ready to get started? StateRequirement recommends having a look at Kaplan’s study materials and resources.

4.7 out of 5 starsKaplan Financial

CRPS Designation FAQ

Is the CRPS designation worth it?

The CRPS designation can significantly enhance your professional standing in retirement planning for businesses. If you’re keen on specializing in this area, the designation can validate your expertise as well as open doors to advanced career opportunities and potentially higher earnings.

What are the prerequisites for the CRPS designation?

The primary requirements for the CRPS designation involve completing the specified study program and passing the rigorous exam. While there aren’t strict educational prerequisites, a background as a financial professional or investment adviser can prove advantageous for understanding and mastering the course material.

How long does the CRPS designation take?

The duration required to earn the CRPS designation varies based on individual pace. After enrolling, candidates need to complete the study program and successfully pass the exam within 120 days. Some might achieve this more quickly while others might use the full duration.

What is the difference between the CRPS and the CFP?

The CRPS designation emphasizes business-focused retirement planning, offering specialized knowledge in the strategies and operations associated with defined benefit plans. In contrast, the certified financial planner (CFP) certification covers a vast array of financial topics. See our How to Become a Wealth Manager guide for more information on the different types of wealth management designations.

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