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Be a Motivational Speaker at Schools: Career Guide

Research the requirements to become a motivational speaker. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in motivational speaking. View article »

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Motivational Speaker?

Motivational speakers are presumed experts in their career fields. They make motivational and training presentations to organizations, including educational institutions and private agencies. These professionals frequently travel to their various speaking engagements, allowing them to see many parts of the country. While there are no specific education requirements, relevant experience and excellent communication skills are critical for an aspiring seminar speaker.

These speakers are often self-employed, which means they get to choose which engagements to accept and which to turn down. However, this can result in an irregular schedule that might include nights and weekends.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Depends on topic and venue
Degree Field(s) Varies
Licensure and/or Certification Top 10% of speakers are certified
Experience Although there is no set requirement, many are entrepreneurs or small business owners
Key Skills Public speaking, as well as the ability to stay ahead of industry trends and find new ways to market products and services
Salary (2015) Varies by experience. The BLS does not provide salary for motivational speakers, but the related category of vocational and educational counselors has a mean annual salary of $56,490.

Sources: National Speakers Association (NSA), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

There are no specific degree requirements for motivational speakers, but the top 10% are certified. Many motivational speakers have experience as entrepreneurs or small business owners, but this isn't required. Key skills of professional motivational speakers include public speaking, staying ahead of industry trends, and finding new ways to market products and services.

Salary varies by experience. The related category of vocational and educational counselors had a mean annual salary of $56,490 in 2015 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Mass Communication Studies
  • Speech Communications and Rhetoric

Steps to Becoming a Motivational Speaker

Step 1: Determine Your Area of Expertise

Seminar speakers are considered to have specialized knowledge in a particular subject area. Individuals interested in pursuing a career as a seminar speaker can attend professional industry-specific workshops and conferences to assist them in defining their strengths and concentration options.

Success Tips:

  • Gain experience in a specific field. Seminar speakers often start as professionals in a particular field and evolve into speaking on the topic. Work experience can provide insight and experience that can be used in speaking engagements.
  • Write a book. It is common for seminar speakers to be authors. Frequently, they are invited to speak about their book, as well as share information or anecdotes.
  • Get an advanced degree in your field of interest. Having an advanced degree in a particular field may lead to speaking engagements at colleges or universities. Some academic departments may offer a speaker's series and engage speakers from outside the university for these events.

Step 2: Take Communication Courses

While a degree in communications is not required for a seminar speaker, public speaking skills are needed. Many colleges and universities offer public speaking courses in their communications programs. These programs may include other relevant courses, such as mass media, journalism, and non-verbal communications. Some schools may offer these courses and programs online.

Step 3: Gain Speaking Experience

Most organizations that assist speakers in booking engagements require a demo tape. Aspiring seminar speakers can build confidence and improve their speaking skills by participating in professional organizations, which can offer networking opportunities, seminars, and workshops.

Success Tip:

  • Join Toastmasters International. Toastmasters International is an organization where an aspiring speaker can gain experience speaking to a group and also receive feedback on their presentation from other participants to improve their techniques.

Step 4: Join a Professional Speakers Organization

Seminar speakers can further advance their careers by becoming members of professional organizations, such as the NSA, which offers membership benefits that include professional training and networking opportunities. Additionally, there are many organizations that promote speakers. These organizations generally require a fee to join, as well as a fee when speakers are booked for an event. Submission of a demo DVD may also be required to join.

Step 5: Become Certified

Certification as a professional speaker is voluntary and may enhance the credibility and employment opportunities of an aspiring seminar speaker. The NSA sponsors a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) credential for qualified NSA members. Membership in the organization for a minimum of three years is required before applying for certification.

Hopeful motivational speakers should determine their area of expertise, gain speaking experience, take communication classes, join a professional speakers association, and become certified.

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