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Everything You Need To Know About The Qualified 401(k) Administrator (QKA) Credential; What It Is And How To Attain It

July 30, 2020

What is a QKA Credential? 

The Qualified 401(k) Administrator (QKA) credential is the national standard for all professionals working with 401(k) retirement plans. Completion of the certification course will help professionals operating in the retirement plan industry develop the technical skills needed to work with 401(k) plans. Attaining the QKA Credential showcases mastery of the two fundamental aspects of 401(k) plan administration; Plan Management and Testing & Compliance.

Who is the QKA Credential for? 

Applicants for the QKA credentials are usually from various professional disciplines. According to the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA), the typical QKA works at a recordkeeper, Third Party Administrator (TPA) like Leading Retirement Solutions, as a client services manger or team member, sales representative, relationship manager, account manager, compliance tester, plan administrator, or any other role that consistently interacts with technical aspects of 401(k) plans. The QKA credential will allow professionals to take their career in the retirement industry to the next level by proving to employers that they have the qualifications and knowledge needed to succeed.

Program Highlights? 

  • Applicants must have at least 3 years of experience in the retirement plan industry
    • Applicants with less than 3 years of experience must complete the Retirement Plan Fundamentals course
  • It takes between 80 to 200 hours of study to earn the credential
  • The average time to complete the credential is roughly 18-months
  • Applicants must pass both the DC-1 & DC-2 exams or the QKA1 & QKA2 exams which are included in the Retirement Plan Fundamental course packages.

The learning modules are robust, thorough, and easy to navigate. The Retirement Plan Fundamentals course is a two-part program that prepares applicants for the required final exam. Each section, Plan Management and Testing & Compliance, is comprised of nine courses, a practice test, and a final proctored exam. Completing the final exams and earning passing scores is mandatory for all candidate seeking the QKA credential.

What topics are covered in the Plan Managment Courses? 

  • Distributions
  • Eligibility and Plan Entry
  • Participant Loans
  • Employee Contributions
  • Employer Contributions
  • Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans
  • Plan Types
  • Vesting
  • Plan Qualification

What topics are covered in the Testing & Compliance Courses?

  • ADP/ACP Testing
  • Coverage
  • HCEs
  • Plan Disclosures
  • Form 5500 & Government Reporting
  • Top Heavy Plans and Key Employees
  • Compensation
  • Ethics


There is no denying that the world is becoming increasingly more competitive across all professions. Adding the QKA credential to your resume will set you apart from the pack and give you the competitive edge required to succeed in this industry. Feel free to contact the LRS team with any questions regarding the QKA programs and how it may help your career.

For more information on ASPPA and the QKA Credential Click Here

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About The Author

Keyvan Khaki is a student at the University of Washington School of Business. He is a Brand Content and Marketing Intern at Leading Retirement Solutions. For more information on Keyvan and the work he is pursuing, be sure to check out his LinkedIn.

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