What is an Educational Consultant?

Edupreneurship is the next big thing in private educational practice, and becoming an educational consultant is your ticket to ride the wave. Edupreneurs bring innovation into education and help drive the future of the entire industry.

Working as an EC can offer higher salaries than you would find in public school systems along with the sort of freedom and job satisfaction that educators crave. With the right expertise and background, you can set your own terms as a consultant and focus exclusively on subjects and projects you love. And you can work as often and as much, or as little and as infrequently as you like.

If it sounds like a dream job, it is! But there’s a catch: you have to build your expertise and resume to the point where companies and clients are so eager to retain your services they are willing to give you that kind of compensation and latitude. And the job can come with a lot of pressure, with big money equalling a demand for big results.

With the right education and experience, though, educational consulting could be the perfect fit for you.

Educational Consultancy Offers Job Opportunities Everywhere

Educational consultants offer advanced expertise in almost every hot topic under the sun when it comes to teaching and school system management. That means job descriptions are available that tap into almost every flavor of specialization, from classroom management to campus architecture to behavioral management.

Problem-solving and flexibility are some of the most important qualities that educational consultants bring to the table, whether it’s through product development, systems implementation, or dealing with individual challenges in school systems.

Educational consultants primarily offer guidance, but they may give that advice to different groups depending on their particular services:

  • Families – Educational consultants who specialize in working with families often serve as impartial, expert counselors, advising parents how best to structure and accomplish educational goals for their children. They may work as a go-between for the family with a local school district or colleges, working the system to improve services for the child or greasing the wheels on the college application process.
  • Schools and Universities – Sometimes it takes some perspective to figure out how to solve thorny educational problems or improve scholastic services. That’s where educational consultants come in for schools and universities. By offering outside expertise and impartial analysis, they can assist in developing improved systems, training, and methodologies for educational services.
  • Other organizations – Education happens in all kinds of places outside of school systems, and a variety of public and non-profit community organizations also need solid educational planning and advice. Educational consultants help devise after-school programs, daycare and preschool programs, and even adult education programs.

Your daily work as an educational consultant can be tremendously varied. You might spend a day in the office working on planning documents for a new math curriculum for a large urban school district with thousands of students, and then be on a plane the next day bound for a small rural district to observe and gather data for a separate project. This is a role where on any given day you can find yourself working with private schools, local governments, state agencies, or individuals and families.

Although some direct implementation is possible in some roles, more often the work involves teaching teachers or administrators how to implement the plans or methodologies that you’ve developed.

Working For Education Consulting Firms

If you spend a lot of time looking at successful educational consultants, you’ll soon realize that there is no one right way into the role. Sometimes it comes with years of experience in a particular niche that you may simply have fallen into; sometimes it’s the result of exhaustive directed research and study in universities and in the education industry. Sometimes it’s the result of relentless networking and social media activity, gaining an audience among active teachers or school administrators.

But there are some common boxes you’ll need to check no matter what path you might be looking at.

Communication skills are key. You can’t offer expertise to anyone if you can’t get your ideas across. Solid written and verbal skills are non-negotiable for successful educational consultants. Organization and planning skills are important for meeting aggressive deadlines and balancing multiple jobs.

And you’ll need actual, genuine expertise in your area of practice. That usually comes with a combination of experience and advanced study, which may be either formal or informal. In rapidly advancing fields like educational technology, for instance, genuine innovation and expertise is often happening ahead of college curriculum… in fact, you may be the one responsible for re-writing those curricula!

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But one way to get those communication skills, and one common requirement for educational consultant positions, is by earning a master’s degree in your field. You’ll need to ensure that the degree you pick is from a fully accredited school with a solid reputation in the field where you plan to practice.

Because many educational consultant positions are extremely niche in focus, you might find that job requirements have very specific and non-standard specifications. For instance, a particular job might require only candidates fluent in Mandarin, or having advanced knowledge of Blackboard Learning Management Software analytics.

Networking and becoming well-known in your field is important, so social media, conference participation, and outreach can make a big difference in landing the best engagements with top educational consulting firms.

Educational Consultant License and Certification Requirements

Because there’s no official standard for educational consultants, there’s no consistent set of licensing or certification requirements you’ll have to meet, either. But that’s not to say that individual positions won’t have a high bar to clear for credentials, depending on the role and the company doing the hiring.

You can expect the best-paid educational consultant roles to demand the highest available credentials in your particular area of practice. This helps establish your bona fides as an expert, as well as actually burnishing your knowledge and expertise in that niche. These can include:

  • Behavior
  • Technology (Edtech)
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
  • English as a Second Language/English Language Learning (ESL/ELL)
  • Campus Planning and Architecture

Of course, depending on this specialization area, there may be specific credentials that you will be expected to have, most commonly the BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Consultant) certification.

Certain jobs might also require state-level licensing as a teacher or other educator. New Jersey, for example, has a specific Learning Disabilities Teacher-Consultant Certificate that you may need to earn to serve on a child study team in state schools, if that’s something your consulting role requires.

Typical Salary Ranges For Education Consultant Jobs

It’s certainly possible to make big money as an educational consultant, but salaries can be as varied as the types of positions available. It’s market-driven compensation, and you can expect hot fields to command top dollar, while those that have fallen out of favor or not yet taken off might lag the averages.

There’s no general job category monitored by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics specific to educational consultants, but many fall into the role of Instructional Coordinators, who are responsible for curriculum development, establishing teaching standards, and creating instructional material. The median pay for that role for 2021 was $63,740 per year, with more than 181,000 individuals employed nationwide.

  • 25th percentile: $49,750
  • 50th percentile: $63,740
  • 75th percentile: $80,780
  • 90th percentile: $101,090

Instructional Coordinators earned the highest mean salaries in the following states:

  • District of Columbia: $107,260
  • Washington: $82,900
  • Oregon: $81,420
  • Connecticut: $80,110
  • Maryland: $79,470

The top-paying metropolitan areas for Instructional Coordinators, according to mean salary, were:

  • Salem, OR: $93,890
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV: $93,760
  • Kennewick-Richland, WA: $91,430
  • Grand Island, NE: $88,630
  • Hanford-Corcoran, CA: $88,370

BLS also indicates that the top ten percent of those jobs pay into six figures, at $101,090 or more.

But there’s no need to cap your salary at employee levels… educational consulting is a wide-open field with room for new players at any time and in various niches. You can open your own education consulting firm and reap the benefits of ownership along with sizable contracts.

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2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Instructional Coordinators reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed January 2023.