Tips on Transitioning from Professor to Educational Consultant

Dr. Bockrath

Teaching is a rewarding profession, yet some educators may also have an interest in exploring opportunities outside the classroom. While administration is an obvious choice, another path for those with an entrepreneurial spirit might be educational consulting. We recently caught up with Dr. Debra Bockrath, a professor in the School of Education, at NCU. Throughout her career, Dr. Bockrath has worked in many sectors of education, including as an educational consultant.

How does someone make the transition from educator to education consultant?
One of the best ways is to “make a name” for yourself. Get involved in committee volunteer work at the city, regional or state level. Agencies often have a need to bring together committees of people for input to educational reform, ideas and/or the implementation of these ideas.

What types of places hire educational consultants? 
State agencies often have needs that can vary on a yearly basis, and they fulfill these needs by hiring educational consultants to work on an as needed basis. For example, I do work for the Ohio Department of Education by being a part of the review committee that evaluates “Race to the Top” grants. Another place to focus are professional associations. Join and attend conferences and seminars to learn what is “new” in education. By doing so, you will be exposed to the challenges of school improvement reform.  Spend time networking to get to know what opportunities might be available.  I am actively involved with both the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators and Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators.

Are there a certain number of years in education someone should have before striking out as a consultant? 
It is best to have solid “boots on the ground” educational experience. In terms of years, one may need 10-15 years to be considered a veteran teacher. Even better is to spend time as a school administrator. Being a school principal gives one the ability to demonstrate leadership skills and a record in overall students’ success. This is an area of focus for educational consultants in public education.

What areas do educational consultants specialize in? 

  1. Teacher leadership
  2. Administrative school leadership such as a principal and superintendent
  3. Content and/or curriculum specialist, although these are in much less demand since school leaders are expected to already have this knowledge

What is the demand for consultants?
Hiring consultants to perform projects (instead of full-time employment) appears to be the trend with state agencies and professional associations. To be hired as a consultant, however, you need to have demonstrated experience on your resume that proves you are an educational leader and have made a difference in student success.

How can consultants set themselves apart from the pack?

  1. Have educational experience in the classroom and as a school principal.
  2. Volunteer for committees working to analyze challenges and improvement for schools.
  3. Do more than get your name recognized. Instead, establish a reputation as a person who is up-to-date in educational trends, be a strong thinker who is able to analyze data and ideas, and be pragmatic with the application of this data and ideas.