A career in education consultancy can give you the freedom to shape your own career path while realising your passion for education and the learners' journey
Education consultants use their experience in learning, teaching, and assessment to help develop the curriculum, or work with organisations and learners to identify and support their specialist needs.
The work is varied as education consultants can be generalists, or can specialise in one particular area. They can work for large, medium or small businesses, be self-employed or work as a freelancer. There are also international opportunities within this field of work.
Education consultants can specialise in a particular form of education, such as:
- special needs
- careers advice and support
- specialist subjects, e.g. enterprise education, early childhood and STEM
- the development of learning products
- online or technical education support
- examination preparation
- teacher training and development
- national or international partnerships development.
Education consultants do not necessarily always have direct contact with the learner, and often might work in a role that supports an education organisation to deliver teaching and learning strategies or to fix systemic issues.
Whether you're a generalist or a specialist, as an education consultant you'll:
- be able to proactively identify and respond to the needs of students and/or educational institutions
- be able to gather, disseminate and share best practice
- work with clients to solve their problems using education theory
- be able to present your ideas and solutions in an effective way
- use, develop and support assistive technologies
- understand jargon, acronyms and specialist vocabulary within an education setting
- understand how to work with teachers, leaders and organisations
- work to a professional code of ethics and remain impartial.
Your responsibilities will also often include:
- organising or facilitating events and workshops
- developing teaching and learning materials
- creating new teaching and assessment strategies, education and career plans
- delivering materials to a group or individual that needs particular support.
- The average starting salaries for education consultants in the UK are between £19,000 and £25,000.
- Experienced educators with a qualification can earn between £25,000 and £40,000.
- Qualified educational professionals with a specialism can earn higher salaries of £52,000 to £75,000 or more. For instance, a specialist in childhood education is associated with a higher pay in this role.
- Some educational consultants will act on a freelance basis, and can often charge between £12.50 and £73.50, depending on the nature and complexity of the work or project.
Figures are intended as a guide only.
Working hours can be erratic and often relate to the nature of your role and your client group.
If you're working with schools your hours will generally follow school patterns, but you may need to work some evenings and weekends to develop plans or materials, especially when working on a big project.
If working with organisations at a college or higher education level, you may find that you have a 9am-5pm work pattern, with some evening working.
As with many self-employed roles, if working as an education consultant freelance or for a small company, you can find yourself working unsociable hours, which you may or may not be able to charge back to the client.
What to expect
- There are few larger companies working within the sector, but most organisations are smaller.
- You can freelance in this role but you can also be directly employed by an educational institution, like a school or college.
- You will need to have some experience in an education setting, or a qualification in education or a related subject.
- Dress code tends to be professional, although changes depending on your client group.
- You will be expected to listen to your client(s), understand their problems and develop a solution. You'll work to a professional code of conduct.
- You will need to be able to communicate your ideas effectively and reference the education theory underpinning your work.
- You will be busy working to tight deadlines and juggling projects, which gives you lots of variety but can be stressful at times.
- Depending on your specialism, you may find yourself travelling to meet clients and conduct in-school observations.
- You will mostly be office-based for development of learning materials or plans, unless your focus is on outdoor education.
- There are opportunities to work abroad, and this is not uncommon. Organisations like the British Council can offer opportunities to explore working abroad.
- Work can be flexible. As a freelancer you can pick which projects you undertake and work out how much you charge, but the work is less secure than working for a company.
- You will be expected to network and/or build up and maintain relationships with your client(s).
Generally, you'll need a first degree or HND to be an education consultant, but experience and determination will count for a lot in the industry.
You can get into education consultancy with a degree in any subject, but a degree in education or psychology may be advantageous. You'll improve your chances further with a specialist degree, such as Early childhood studies.
If you want to undertake a postgraduate qualification in education, look for courses that help you develop practical teaching experience. As education can be a competitive field, education consultants often also have a qualification in a specialism. This is typically a postgraduate qualification such as an MA in education or a PGCE. These courses are available at colleges, universities and via distance learning.
Having an understanding of business will improve your ability to work as a freelancer. A range of online courses and resources are available to help you start a business. Many universities also provide support for undergraduates or graduates who are thinking of running their own business, so it's worth checking their websites and seeking out support.
You'll need to have:
- a passion for education
- good planning and organising skills
- a willingness to keep up to date with modern teaching and learning strategies
- an ability to meet tight deadlines
- an ability to communicate your ideas
- excellent interpersonal skills
- interest in travelling to meet clients and working in a range of environments
- problem-solving skills.
Experience as a teacher or in an education setting can prove to be invaluable, especially if you're starting as a freelancer. Clients and client briefs however can be varied, and very few structured work experience or training schemes exist. Some larger companies will offer a starting salary and training, and give an opportunity to build up experience.
Many international agencies also offer exciting opportunities to work with schools and education organisations abroad.
You can gain first-hand experience working with learners and/or clients through tutoring in a specialist subject.
Education consultants often have a good understanding of the current education landscape. Get involved with volunteering opportunities within schools or college environments, or become a school governor to gain a first-hand insight.
Most education consultants either work for a company, in the public sector or are self-employed. There are organisations that work in specialist areas of education and provide advice and guidance to clients, as well as opportunities to develop your own client base.
You can look for vacancies (or potential clients if you are a freelancer) on:
- The Guardian Jobs
- Times Education Supplement (TES)
- local government websites
- LinkedIn groups, such as The Education Consultants Network
- The Society of Education Consultants
If you're interested in international opportunities, you can find these through:
Many education consultants are freelancers, and need to register via the HMRC as self-employed and get a Unique Tax Payer reference number, or set up a company via companies' house.
The Society of Education Consultants offers access to resources and recommendations of professional development opportunities.
It's also worth exploring the training and development opportunities available through training agencies or offered through partners like the Global Partnership for Education and the British Council.
Although unlikely, if you don't have a degree there can be options for further development by undertaking training to obtain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
As an education consultant, you'll develop a range of transferrable skills. There is enough variety within the job that you may find yourself developing your specialism, working abroad on in an education leadership role.
Some education consultants go back into teaching or working within an education environment in a different role. The nature of the role also lends itself to similar careers, and some could go on to be careers advisors, support workers or working freelance in another industry.