A 401K is a type of employer retirement account, and an IRA is an individual retirement account. Both accounts are retirement savings vehicles, but a 401 (k) plan is a type of employer-sponsored plan with its own set of rules. A traditional IRA, on the other hand, is an account that the owner sets up without the employer's involvement. For those looking to transfer their 401K to a Gold IRA, there are specific steps that must be taken in order to ensure a successful Transfer 401k to Gold IRA. A 401 (k) plan is a feature of a qualified profit sharing plan that allows employees to contribute a portion of their salaries to individual accounts.