How to Become an Estate Planner

Estate Planner Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $127,910
Avg. Pay / hour $61.49
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 7%

Estate Planners are experienced individuals who have thorough knowledge of various financial areas such as: investments, taxes, law, savings, personal assets and property laws.

They use their wealth of information to assists individuals plan a long term strategy that focuses on the protection and transfer of their assets and wealth, sometimes planning beyond an individual’s death.

Individuals who want to become an Estate Planner will need to gain experience in the financial industry; some of these professionals also have experience in the legal industry.

These professionals may work for a large legal or financial firm or also run a private practice.

Education Requirements to Become an Estate Planner

The minimum requirement needed to become an Estate Planner is a bachelor’s degree.

However, some employers prefer to hire individuals who have a graduate degree.

In addition, individuals will need to seek a certification in order to seek job opportunities in this field.

During their undergraduate career, individuals can focus on a Finance degree or a closely related field.

Because there is growth in finance related fields, some colleges and universities have started to offer programs focusing on financial services, financial planning or estate planning.

These programs will give students the opportunity to learn detailed information in business courses, financial markets, investments and financial management.

Individuals also have the choice of attending a graduate program focusing on finance or a closely related field.

In addition to earning an undergraduate or graduate degree, individuals will also need to seek certification.

Certification is required by employers and shows proof that an individual has passed the rigorous requirements to take an exam.

The majority of individuals who want to become an Estate Planner opt to become certified as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) which is administered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

Requirements needed to take the CFP certification exam include having a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university as well as having a minimum of three years of experience in personal financial planning.

The CFP exam is a three part series that tests individuals on their knowledge of the most current tax laws.

In addition, candidates must also pass a background check and a conduct standards test.

Visit CFP Board for more information on acquiring certification.

Estate Planner Job Description

An Estate Planner is specialized in helping individuals protect their personal assets and preparing them to transfer and allocate assets upon their death.

These professionals use their knowledge in both personal finances as well law in order to help their clients draw a long term plan.

Estate planners draw upon their knowledge of finances which can include the following areas:

  • Property
  • Investments
  • Savings
  • Insurance

As well as the following legal areas:

  • Trusts
  • Wills
  • Current tax laws

The thorough knowledge an Estate Planner has in these areas will be utilized to help clients protect their personal assets during a transfer or after death.

Estate Planner Salary and Career Path

Personal Finance Advisors, which is the larger branch that Estate Planners fall under, earned a median annual income of $67,520 in 2012.

This income heavily depends on a variety of circumstances including level of experience, certification and industry a professional works in.

For example, individuals working in the Financial Investment Activities can expect a median salary of approximately $83,400 per year while individuals working for Insurance carriers can expect a median salary of approximately $63,500 per year.

Exact salary will also depend on whether an individual provides their services as self-employed; there are currently no statistics or income estimations for individuals who are self-employed Estate Planners.

The job outlook for all Personal Finance Advisors, which includes Estate Planners, is expected to grow at a faster than average rate when compared to other profession.

Job opportunities for individuals who would like to become an Estate Planner or Financial Planner are expected to increase by 27 percent through the year 2022.

Individuals who would like to pursue a career as an Estate Planner can be assured that this track is one that will challenge them and provide a variety of benefits including a healthy income and a healthy job outlook.

This job is a perfect fit for those who like to work using financial topics, tax law and have a passion for working with other individuals to help them achieve their goals.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Delaware- NA -
District of Columbia$198,820
New Hampshire$124,230
New Jersey$153,800
New Mexico$116,220
New York$179,060
North Carolina$131,960
North Dakota$107,190
Rhode Island$148,770
South Carolina$107,780
South Dakota$100,100
West Virginia$107,380
Puerto Rico$67,350
Virgin Islands- NA -

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $198,820.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $198,820
New York - $179,060
California - $176,610
Massachusetts - $167,980
New Jersey - $153,800
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Lawyers, OCC Code 23-1011, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an estate planner do?

An estate planner is a personal financial expert.

His or her main aim is to provide advice and services to individuals as it related to such personal assets as investments, savings, and property.

An estate planner can work on his own, within the legal community or within the financial industry.

Estate planning includes drafting a last will and trust, planning for charitable contributions, setting up trust funds, tax planning, and so on.

In the majority of cases, estate planners focus on the protection and transfer of assets after death.

Of course, a professional should be knowledgeable in wills, insurance, trust, and current tax laws.

How much do estate planners make?

On average, an estate planner can make a little less than $73.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $46.000 and $123.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the employer, the location and so on.

Estate planners that work in New York, Missouri, and California, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level estate planner can earn around $30.00 per hour, while a top-level professional with plenty of experience can make $100.00 and more per hour.

How much does it cost to become an estate planner?

You would certainly need a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, law or a related field, in order to become an estate planner.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

The majority of professional estate planners also have a graduate degree.

To acquire your Certified Estate Planner (CEP) certification, you would have to complete the required course and pass an exam (around $1695; materials, exam fee, and the use of the certification included).

What is the demand for estate planners?

Between 2018 and 2028, the personal financial advisor job market (estate planners included) is expected to grow by 7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is as fast as the average for all occupations in the United States.

There is a constant growth in the aging population nowadays; that’s why there will be an increased need to manage people’s personal assets.

How long does it take to become an estate planner?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree and 2 years to earn a master’s degree (in case you decide to go for one).

To become a Certified Estate Planner, you would have to hold a valid current license in either the legal, tax or financial professional, or receive permission for enrollment (based on other relevant professional interest).

To earn a Certified Financial Planner credential, you should possess a bachelor’s degree and at least 3 years of on-the-job experience.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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