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What Does an Educational Consultant Do?

An educational consultant and a student look at a computer screen.

An educational consultant helps students at a pivotal moment in their lives: the transition to college. From finding the right college to financial aid planning to the application process, educational consultants help students and their parents prepare for the academic journey ahead.

Roles and Responsibilities of Educational Consultants

An educational consultant’s main role is to assist students and parents through the college application and planning process, according to the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA). Educational consultants begin by evaluating the student— analyzing strengths and weaknesses—and then identifying colleges that would be a strong fit for the student’s interests and needs. Late in the process, they advise on the application and financial aid processes.

Educational consultants work closely with parents to ensure that they know how to support their students’ application process and help them plan for college. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), educational consultants’ responsibilities include the following:

  • Conducting aptitude tests and interviews to find students’ strengths
  • Helping students develop key skills, like time management and study habits
  • Outlining plans for students’ academic and career goals
  • Helping students develop realistic goals
  • Collaborating with parents and teachers to aid in students’ success
  • Translating aptitude tests into the interests, skills, and abilities of the students, in turn helping them find fulfilling majors and, ultimately, careers

Educational Consultant Career Paths and Specializations

To become an educational consultant, an individual needs the right education, experience, and certification. After that, they’ll need to decide which professional career path to take. This path can range from working at a college to working independently.

Academic Path

To begin an educational consultant career, an individual first needs to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in a counseling-related field, and then become certified.

Next, it’s crucial for an individual to gain professional experience. Some ways to gain experience include volunteering at local high school counseling offices or at nonprofits dedicated to helping students plan for college. Importantly, an individual must have extensive knowledge about colleges and college admissions to be successful in this career, according to HECA.

Additionally, joining a professional organization like the Independent Educational Consultant Association (IECA) or the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) can help educational consultants grow in their careers. These organizations offer educational consultants networking opportunities and training.

Career Path

After completing the required education and gaining some relevant work experience, educational consultants can begin their careers in a variety of settings. They can work independently or with colleges or universities. While these settings differ, the educational consultant’s roles and responsibilities remain the same.

Independent Educational Consultant

If educational consultants choose to work independently, they must be certified to prove their competency and value. Independent educational consultants focus on college admissions and helping students prepare for the transition to college. They usually work under IECA and are HECA members.

College Educational Consultant

Educational consultants can also work at colleges as admissions counselors. Unlike independent educational consultants, admissions counselors have other tasks assigned to them and don’t work with just new, incoming students. They also work with transfer students. These consultants will also only work with students who want to come to the specific university where they work, rather than helping students find colleges.


Students have different goals—from studying to become concert musicians to participating in college athletics. Educational consultants who specialize in particular study areas can offer targeted support and insight to students with specific academic goals. According to IvyWise, educational consulting specialties include the following:

  • Athletics
  • Arts and music
  • Learning differences
  • UK admissions (helping US students enter UK schools)
  • Financial aid consultation

Salary and Job Outlook

Educational consultants earned a median annual wage of $57,040 as of May 2019, according to the BLS. Those in the lowest 10th percentile earned less than $34,380, and those in the top 10th percentile earned more than $96,090, depending on the experience level and the type of organization they worked for. This field is expected to grow by 8 percent from 2019 to 2029—a rate that’s much faster than other occupations.

Advanced Education Training Requirements

To be competitive in the field, an educational consultant would do well to consider becoming a certified educational planner (CEP). This certification, for which a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field is a prerequisite, is a mark of distinction that recognizes an educational consultant’s in-depth knowledge and commitment to the profession, according to the American Institute of Certified Educational Planners (AICEP).

To become a CEP, educational consultants need to submit an application highlighting their experience, education, and professional commitment and demonstrating their high ethical standards. Next, they need to pass an exam.

Further Your Career at American University

American University’s Online Master of Education in Education Policy and Leadership and Online Master of Arts in Teaching programs help individuals bring equality to education. They offer students the knowledge and experience they need to further their careers and make a difference. Follow your passion and create change in education at American University.

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