Many workers that have access to 401(k) plans may be inclined to think that those benefits are a fact of life for all U.S. workers. In reality, many employees, regardless of industry, lack access to 401(k) plans and employer-sponsored defined benefit pension plans.

There are millions of American workers with no access to retirement plans through their jobs. That puts a burden on folks to explore options on their own or, better yet, with the help of a financial advisor. Fortunately, there are some credible starting points for employees that want to jump-start their retirement planning efforts. All workers have access to individual retirement accounts (IRAs).

“An IRA is an Individual Retirement Account that you open in your own name. Like a 401(k), savings grow tax-deferred, which means you don’t pay income taxes on the earnings as long as the money is in the account. Currently, you can contribute up to $6,000 a year to an IRA (with a $1,000 catch-up for those 50-plus),” writes Charles Schwab’s Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz.

Although IRAs are straight-forward vehicles, there are two different varieties, Roth and traditional accounts. Workers can consult with financial advisors to discover which IRA is most suitable for them and their respective tax situations.

With a traditional IRA, savers get an up-front tax deduction, depending on income, and the savings grow tax deferred. However, taxes are paid when withdrawals occur.

“With a Roth, there’s no up-front tax deduction, but you can withdraw earnings income tax free at age 59½ if you’ve held the Roth for five years. You’re subject to a 10 percent penalty if you withdraw earnings before 59½, but there’s never a penalty for withdrawing the money you contributed,” adds Schwab-Pomerantz.

For self-employed workers and small business owners, there are some additional retirement options to consider, including simple IRAs and self-employed plans (SEPs).

Those vehicles offer “a way to increase the amount of money they can contribute to retirement each year. Each is relatively easy to set up, have higher contribution limits and offer a lot of flexibility,” according to Schwab-Pomerantz.

For more on income strategies, visit our Retirement Income Channel.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.