Early Childhood Policy Consultant Career: Job and Salary Information
Few things do more good than providing a safe and stimulating environment for young children to thrive. Early childhood policy consultants help make that happen. If you’re a passionate, creative thinker who gets excited about the idea of improving the lives of millions of kids, take some time to consider a career in early childhood policy.
An early childhood policy consultant conducts research and analysis to develop effective policy for early childhood care and education. If you choose an early childhood policy consulting career, you’ll collect and evaluate data that helps policymakers figure out how to give more kids a chance to fulfill their potential.
This guide is a concise overview of the job responsibilities, required education and likely salary of an early childhood policy consultant. Read all the way through or use these links to jump to a specific destination:
> What early childhood policy consultants do
> Where early childhood policy consultants work
> Educational and certification requirements
> Income estimates
> Pros and cons of being an early childhood policy consultant
At-a-glance: early childhood policy consultants
Most employers who hire early childhood policy consultants expect them to have an advanced degree (master’s or doctorate) in a field related to education or public policy. Salaries for early childhood policy consultants vary by location, employer and education level. Here’s a range of income estimates for early childhood policy consultants:
|Median salary||$99,730 (BLS)
Early childhood policy consultant job description
As an early childhood policy consultant, you’ll work with non-profit organizations and governments at the local, state and federal levels to develop regulations, policies, funding mechanisms and legislation for early childhood care and education. You will analyze and research education and child care systems to determine whether legal and institutional guidelines are effectively serving children from infancy to age 5. You’ll also review policies and strategic approaches to identify opportunities for innovation.
Most of the work of an early childhood policy consultant involves identifying and researching the key issues in early childhood care and education. You’ll also compose well-reasoned recommendations for the best policy solutions, clearly spelling out the benefits and drawbacks.
To work effectively, an early childhood policy consultant needs excellent statistical analysis skills. Your work will involve deploying data collection tools and managing surveys. You’ll be conducting both qualitative and quantitative analyses.
The issues you may research and write about may include learning approaches for early literacy and numeracy, school readiness, teacher and caregiver training, funding/financing strategies, program accessibility and comprehensive family support.
Who makes a good early childhood policy consultant?
Someone who is:
- Skilled at identifying problems and brainstorming potential solutions
- Creative and always generating ideas
- Attentive to details
- Skilled with statistics and data
- Highly curious and a lifelong learner
- Capable of absorbing lots of information quickly
- Excellent at written and oral communication, as well as presentation
- Comfortable working independently and collaboratively with other team members
- Careful about documentation and note-taking
- Qualified with an education or public policy-related degree
Interested in becoming an early childhood policy consultant?
Here’s a video that will introduce you to some of the main topics in early childhood policy consulting:
In-depth: early childhood policy consultants
Let’s take a more detailed look at what early childhood policy consultants do, where they work, how much they earn and more.
- Where early childhood policy consultants work
- What early childhood policy consultants do
- Educational and certification requirements
- Income estimates
- Pros and cons of being an early childhood policy consultant
Where early childhood policy consultants work
Early childhood policy consultants work for a wide range of employers, including:
- Government agencies
- Legislative or executive offices of state or federal governments
- Non-profit/charitable foundations
- Think tanks
- Universities and other educational institutions
- Political or activist organizations
- Political candidates’ campaigns
- Lobbying firms serving a wide variety of clients
- Corporate clients’ marketing and/or public affairs departments
Your employer will probably determine the nature of the research, analysis and consulting you conduct. Your specific responsibilities can also vary a lot depending on the goals and operations of your employer. For example, a think tank job may focus on pure research, whereas a foundation job may include grant writing or lobbying.
What early childhood policy consultants do
If you work as an early childhood policy consultant, your day-to-day responsibilities may include:
- Researching topics affecting child care or schooling for young children in the U.S.
- Comparing U.S. child care and early education policies to their international counterparts
- Collecting and analyzing information, including data from surveys of children, parents, caregivers, social workers and teachers
- Using qualitative and quantitative methodologies to develop and test theories
- Examining how current early childhood policies affect the public — children, parents, schools and society at large
- Determining the effect of child care, preschool and other interventions on broad economic measures
- Keeping up-to-date on events, policy decisions, trends and other issues with implications for the care and education of young children and infants
- Compiling your findings to publish analytical research and editorials
- Preparing briefings for policymakers and other stakeholders
- Developing sophisticated forecasts of political, economic and social trends related to the development of children and families
- Conducting cost/benefit analyses and making recommendations to legislators and government officials
- Assisting in the negotiation of contracts between government agencies and private businesses/non-profit organizations/foundations
While many of these duties happen across a spectrum of early childhood policy consulting jobs, some of your work will be determined by the type of employer you work for.
If you’re working for a university or non-profit foundation, some of your time will be spent writing grants or other funding proposals. You may also be required to participate in academic conferences and publish articles in professional peer-reviewed journals.
If you work in the private sector, you may help businesses set up high quality on-site child care for employees and their families. Or you may draft flexible benefit packages that include child care subsidies. Businesses marketing products to young children, families, or preschools and day care centers frequently hire early childhood policy consultants to help with product development or sales.
Other early childhood policy consultants decipher the potential impact on children of bills under consideration by Congress. You could also be hired by preschools, day care centers or government agencies to identify strengths and weaknesses of specific programs and recommend changes.
Education and certification requirements
Employers expect their early childhood policy consultants to have extensive experience studying the available academic literature in the field and successfully conducting original research. You will need to earn a master’s degree in a field like public policy, child development or education to succeed in this career. Many successful policy consultants have a PhD, so you should consider a doctorate as well.
Hands-on experience working with children under age 5 can be helpful, but it’s not required. Far more important is experience applying quantitative analysis techniques and a knowledge of the historical context of early childhood policy.
Early childhood policy consultants earn salaries commensurate with their experience, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A policy analyst with less experience may be hired to work in a government agency for $50,000 to $60,000 a year. Experienced analysts, on the other hand, can easily earn $100,000 a year in a senior position and even more if they pursue outside consulting work.
Pros and cons of being an early childhood policy consultant
Let’s break down the positives and negatives of working as an early childhood policy consultant:
- Broad impact because your work can affect millions of children
- Constantly face novel intellectual challenges
- High pay relative to direct caregiving or preschool teaching
- High likelihood of earning health insurance and retirement benefits
- Government bureaucracies involved in early childhood care and education can be difficult to change and frustrating to work with
- Less opportunity to work directly with kids compared to other jobs in education
- Job focuses heavily on reading and writing, which can be frustrating if you want more hands-on work
- Work can be politicized and highly controversial
Professional development for early childhood policy consultants
Let’s say you’re currently a teacher or a journalist. Maybe you’re an undergraduate student or you work for state government. Whatever your background, there are many routes to becoming an early childhood policy consultant. You just have to figure out the right route for you.
As you’re mapping out your approach to becoming an early childhood policy consultant, read as much as you can about education news and policy, including blogs and Twitter handles. The better informed you are about early childhood policy, the more likely you are to find job openings and have informed conversations with potential employers.
Next, consider seeking out internships at public policy think tanks or getting a job doing hands-on work in preschools to gain experience and build your resume.
Successful early childhood policy consultants often join professional organizations like the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) for access to networking opportunities with other public policy professionals.
Benefits of continuing education
If you’re serious about becoming an early childhood policy consultant, think about pursuing a master’s degree or doctorate. Once you have decided to get an advanced degree, start researching the specialization you want and the programs that best serve your professional goals.
What kinds of programs can help early childhood policy consultants?
Concordia University-Portland offers online graduate degree programs in education that will prepare you to analyze education policy from the inside out.
Check out the following programs that can help give you a leg up for job opportunities as an early childhood policy consultant:
The Curriculum and Instruction program at Concordia University-Portland has 16 concentrations. Choose a concentration such as Early Childhood Education to learn more about current trends and research and to develop skills in advocating for young children.
You may also consider whether you’d like to pursue a master’s degree (MEd) or a doctorate (EdD), and the area of education research you are most passionate about. An EdD in a field like Professional Leadership, Inquiry, and Transformation can help make you a thought leader in early childhood policy.
Jobs for early childhood policy consultants beyond policy analysis
Early childhood policy consultants may also work as teachers, librarians, instructional coordinators, assistant principals, principals, or as an educational administrator at a college or university.
Teacher: Early childhood policy consultants can easily become teachers if they obtain a teaching credential and have a strong educational background in the subject they plan to teach.
Professor: Early childhood policy consultants can become professors if they earn a doctorate in the area where they wish to research and teach.
Librarian: A master’s degree in library science (MLS) is generally required for employment, and some states also require librarians to pass a standardized test.
Instructional coordinator: Early childhood policy consultants are well-positioned to become instructional coordinators. Instructional coordinators should complete a master’s degree related to curriculum and instruction and may be required to have a teaching or education administrator license.
Academic advisor: With a master’s degree in an education-related field, you can transition into being an academic advisor at either the K-12 or college/university level.
School principal: You will need a master’s degree in an education-related field to become a school principal. Most states also require public school principals to be licensed school administrators.
Education administrator: To become an education administrator, you will need years of experience and a master’s degree in an education-related field, such as education leadership.
Best of the web: our favorite early childhood policy consultant blogs, websites and Twitter handles
The web makes it easy to connect with prominent early childhood policy consultants. Here is a list of our favorite websites and Twitter handles, in no particular order.
Favorite early childhood policy consultant websites and blogs
- National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
- Children’s Defense Fund
- Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center
- Zero to Three
- National Center for Children and Families
- Build Initiative
- Alliance for Early Childhood Finance (AFECF)
- National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER)
- American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF)
- Teacher Tom
- WECA Advocates in Action
- Early Years
- Alliance for Early Success
Favorite early childhood policy consultant Twitter handles
- Sara Mead: @saramead
- Young Child Facts: @youngchildfacts
- Early Childhood at Children Now: @EarlyYears_CN
- Eva Lloyd: @EvaLloyd50
- Early Childhood Data Collaborative (ECDC): @ecedata
- C Johnson Staub: @cjohnsonstaub
- Seth Gerson: @SethPGerson
- Laura Minnigerode: @LauraMinAustin
- Stephanie Schaefer: @S_Schaefer
- Verity Campbell-Barr: @DrVerityCB
- Childcare Resource and Research Unit: @childcarepolicy
- Leoarna Mathias: @leoarnawrites