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Educational consultants brainstorm features for a product
Teaching Careers Updated November 14, 2017

Education Consultant: Career and Salary Information

By Robbie Bruens October 4, 2012

Educational consultants brainstorm features for a productAs our society becomes more complex, our schools have to adapt their methods to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century. As an education consultant, you can help make that happen by bringing the best educational techniques and technologies to classrooms across the country.

Education consultants work with schools and individual families to optimize the progress of all students. Demand for motivated, passionate education consultants just keeps growing in the increasingly competitive education sector.

This guide will bring you up to speed on what it takes to become an education consultant, describing the required education, estimating the salary you’re likely to earn and sharing tips on maximizing your success in the field. Read all the way through or use these links to jump to a specific destination:

At-a-glance
> Education consultant job description
> Who makes good education consultants?

Different types of education consultants
> School/university education consultants
> Education consultants for individual students and families
> Education consultants for product-driven firms

Professional development
> Continuing education

Related careers
> Jobs beyond education consulting

Best of the Web
> Sites and Twitter handles to follow

At a glance: education consultants

Education Master’s
Median salary PayScale.com: $62,386
Salary.com: $94,837
Indeed.com: $81,000
GlassDoor.com: $64,008
SalaryExpert.com: $73,223

To become an education consultant, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree and possibly a master’s degree. While it can be helpful to get your degree in a relevant field like education or cognitive science, education consultants come from all kinds of backgrounds. Most employers look to hire education consultants with an advanced degree in a field like curriculum and instruction.

Salaries vary for rural and urban areas, and experienced consultants can earn in the low to mid-six figures.

Education consultant job description

Here’s a quick look at the three most common ways education consultants earn a living:

  • Schools and universities employ consultants to fix systemic problems, improve the learning environment, train faculty and advise administrators.
  • Parents hire education consultants to help their children succeed in school and gain admission to the right universities.
  • Private education companies work with education consultants to help develop learning products that teachers and schools use to improve student achievement.

Educational consultants typically develop a speciality in one of these areas.

Who makes a good education consultant?

Someone who is:

  • Attentive to details
  • Oriented toward service
  • Good at planning and organizing
  • Empathetic and sociable
  • Skilled in identifying problems and brainstorming potential solutions
  • 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
  • Able to meet aggressive deadlines
  • Interested in traveling and working in a diverse range of environments
  • Qualified with a degree in curriculum and instruction or education leadership

Interested in becoming an education consultant?

This video will provide some context on education consulting.

Varieties of education consultants

As you think more about becoming an education consultant, you’ll want to decide whether you want to consult for schools, individual students or education companies.

School/university education consultants

Schools and universities ask education consultants to examine how their students learn on a holistic level and recommend improvements in policies and programs. They may also hire education consultants to examine a specific problem and design a custom solution.

Continue reading to learn more about education consultants in primary and secondary schools

What school/university education consultants do

If you work as an education consultant for a school or university, expect to do the following:

  • Identify curriculum issues in school districts and in individual classrooms and suggest improvements
  • Train faculty to implement new teaching techniques and use the latest education technology in the classroom
  • Develop methods to optimize student learning environments
  • Design and execute blended-learning programs
  • Build online education options and after-school enrichment services
  • Coordinate extra help for students with learning challenges

Education consultants occasionally work on school building improvement committees, district task forces, curriculum revision and review committees, assessment discussions and state standardized testing panels.

Educational and certification requirements

Schools and universities typically expect education consultants to have an advanced degree in a relevant field, such as a master’s in curriculum and instruction. Many school districts may have additional requirements if state mandates include specific certifications and credentials for people hired by the district.

Pros and cons of being a school/university education consultant

Let’s break down the positives and negatives of working as an education consultant for schools and universities:

Pros

  • Broad potential impact because your work helps entire schools
  • Institutional support for your goals and objectives
  • Opportunity to travel for work
  • High likelihood of earning paid time off, benefits and job security

Cons

  • Educational bureaucracies can be difficult to change and frustrating to work with
  • Not much one-on-one interaction with students
  • Long hours sometimes necessary

Education consultants for individual students and their families

Some education consultants work one-on-one with individual families. This situation requires the consultant to personalize solutions for individual students. Often, these consultants work exclusively with special populations such as athletes, at-risk youth or international students.

Continue reading to learn more about education consultants for individual students and their families

What individual student/family education consultants do

The job may be to help the student with a range of academic challenges, much like a tutor. Or a consultant may be hired to guide the student through the college selection and admissions processes. Sometimes, the focus may be on helping families apply for financial aid or preparing students for college admissions tests.

Here are tasks you can expect to do as a private education consultant:

  • Optimize the student’s academic potential
  • Discover and develop new talents in the student
  • Analyze the individual learning needs of the student
  • Arrange specialty testing and evaluation of the student’s aptitude when needed
  • Provide expertise on school and program options and opportunities to students and families
  • Find the ideal school and/or learning environment that matches well with the student
  • Clarify priorities for consideration in school and program match
  • Help families who have moved to a new place find great schools for their children

Educational requirements

If you work directly for individual families as a freelance consultant, you may not need a master’s degree if you have a proven track record and an impressive resume.

Pros and cons of being an individual student/family education consultant

As you think about becoming an educational consultant for individual students and families, be sure to weigh the pluses and minuses.

Pros

  • Working one-on-one with students can have a meaningful impact on individual lives
  • High level of flexibility on working hours
  • No need to spend your days in an office
  • Not much interaction with bureaucracy

Cons

  • No institutional backing from a school or university
  • Potential to lose clients can mean less income consistency
  • Harder to obtain benefits and paid time off

Education consultants for product-driven firms

The last type of education consultant works on projects for textbook publishers, learning companies and educational technology firms. These consultants focus on making great educational products for students, teachers and schools.

Continue reading to learn more about educational product consultants

What educational product consultants do

If you work as an educational product consultant, you will probably focus on one or more of the following:

  • Developing educational guides and manuals for teachers and administrators
  • Providing editorial guidance on textbook manuscripts
  • Designing and/or testing educational technology products
  • Demonstrating educational products in the classroom
  • Writing reports about using educational products

Educational requirements

If you want to work for a product-driven education firm, you will need either a proven track record of success in product development and business, or deep knowledge and expertise in the education sector. One way to demonstrate expertise in education is by earning a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction or educational leadership.

Pros and cons of being an educational product consultant

If you want to become an educational product consultant, consider the following costs and benefits:

Pros

  • Plenty of opportunity for creativity
  • Potential to develop world-changing products
  • Your perspective will be important to the creation and marketing of real-world products

Cons

  • Less direct interaction with students and schools
  • Likely to work conventional business hours in an office setting

Professional development for education consultants

To work in a school district as an educational consultant, you will probably need a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. Many school districts require a master’s degree along with a valid teaching certificate.

The highest-paid consultants often have years of experience as teachers or administrators. School districts often look for education consultants with specializations in areas such as:

  • English/mathematics education
  • Curriculum design
  • Audio/visual education
  • Emerging technology
  • Blended learning
  • Testing

Whatever your interests, the best way to position yourself as an education consultant is to learn as much as you can about a specialization so you can sell yourself as an expert in that niche.

Maybe you are passionate about helping teachers integrate technology into their instruction, or you want to focus on best practices in a certain subject area. Because education is such an expansive field, you’ll want to narrow your area of expertise to something specific.

Independent educational consultants often register with organizations like the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) to increase their visibility with potential clients. The IECA requires a master’s degree or higher from an accredited institution, three years of experience in educational placement counseling or admissions, on-campus evaluations and professional references from its members.

Benefits of continuing education

Although you may be able to build a career without a master’s degree, education consultants with a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction have a greater chance for promotions and an increase in salary. They will also enjoy a more extensive network of colleagues, contacts, potential clients and employers. The difference in income can be considerable, and many more opportunities will be available to education consultants with master’s degrees.

What kinds of programs can help education consultants?

Concordia University-Portland offers an online graduate degree program that helps education consultants sharpen their expertise and prepare for job opportunities with more selective schools, universities and private clients.

The MEd in Curriculum and Instruction program has multiple concentrations, including Methods and Curriculum, Online Teaching and Learning, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).

Jobs for education consultants beyond consulting

Education consultants may also work as teachers, librarians, instructional coordinators, assistant principals, principals, or as an educational administrator at a college or university.

Teacher: Education consultants can easily become teachers if they obtain a teaching credential and have a strong educational background in the subject they plan to teach. A bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential are the minimum requirements.

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: Education consultants are well-positioned to become instructional coordinators. Instructional coordinators generally need to 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.

Best of the Web: our favorite education consultant blogs, websites and Twitter handles

The web makes it easy to connect with prominent education consultants. Here is a list of our favorite websites and Twitter handles, in no particular order.

Favorite education consultant websites and blogs

Favorite education consultant Twitter handles

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