Educational Planner Certification and Degree Program Overviews

Oct 13, 2019

Educational planners (also referred to as college consultants, educational consultants and education placement advisers) learn how to advise students on important matters for college prep by completing programs at the certificate, bachelor's, and master's level.

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Essential Information

Most educational planners will be employed by schools but the degree required depends on which school they decide to work at. Entrance requirements for these programs extend from having no experience to a bachelor's or master's degree in addition to a teaching license.

Typical courses for the educational planner program include professional development, private practice and ethics, public relations and marketing, social media, and writing college essays. Experienced candidates who hold master's degrees can become Certified Educational Planners by passing an examination. Internships are generally required.

Certificate in College or Educational Planning

At most schools, educational planners must have a bachelor's or master's degree, a teacher's license and experience. With a master's degree, an educational planner may also be credentialed as a school counselor. Many other educational planning jobs may require planners to have a certificate in some form of college counseling. These certificates may be earned online. The few programs with master's-degree prerequisites require the master's degree to be in counseling. The certificate prepares students to work in a college's student personnel services department. Other programs prepare individuals to advise high school students. Few programs list a required minimum grade point average (GPA) for entry but most require a GPA of 2.0 or better in the certificate program itself. Most certificate programs for educational planners prepare students to work with high school students and their families. These programs may require from 3-5 courses, with one of them being a practicum. In addition to a practicum, the other courses may include:

  • Applying for admission and financial aid
  • Helping students with a wide range of abilities and needs
  • How to best use the Internet for college planning
  • How to select a college
  • Professional resources and networks for the educational planner
  • Testing - college placement tests, interest and ability inventories

Certification in Educational Planning

The American Institute for Certified Educational Planners (AICEP) offers the one certification available for educational planners. Requirements to become a Certified Educational Planner (CEP) include a master's degree, a review of the applicant's education and training, experience and professional activities and passing a written essay-type exam. The CEP certification is distinct from a related credential, the Certified College Planning Specialist (CCPS). The CCPS credential is for financial planners who aid students and their families in finding resources to fund their college educations. The professional organization Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) offers no certification. It does have stringent membership requirements that are more demanding than those for certification. Requirements for professional membership include a master's degree, at least three years' experience in admissions or counseling and at least one year of independent practice. During that year of professional practice a candidate must have advised 50 or more students and made at least 150 visits to four prescribed kinds of schools. Candidates also need professional references to apply for certification.

Master's Degree in School Counseling

Master's degree programs in school counseling sometimes have a concentration in college counseling. However, most degree programs in school counseling have courses focusing on counseling for college preparation and application. Graduates of these programs will likely find themselves counseling in many areas besides educational planning. These areas include counseling for problems in social development, family problems and other personal needs. Most of the coursework is similar. In most cases, he basic education prerequisite for a master's degree is a bachelor's degree. Sometimes a minimum GPA of 3.0 in undergraduate work is required. Specified scores on the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) may be needed and teaching experience is encouraged. All master's programs are built around a core of required counseling courses. Common courses specific to educational planning may include:

  • Counseling in secondary schools
  • Counseling for lifestyle development
  • Counseling students in career planning
  • College students in the U.S.
  • Guidance in student curriculum development
  • Roles of the school counselor

Popular Careers

Most of the degree programs prepare students to work in elementary, middle and high schools. However, some programs are focused on counseling in a college setting. Some popular careers for individuals with a master's degree in school counseling include working as a guidance counselor, director or coordinator of school counselors or career counselor.

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has no separate statistics for educational planners. Rather, educational planners are considered part of a group that includes school and career counselors. The BLS estimated that jobs for this group would increase by 8% from 2018-2028. They predicted that an increase in student enrollment at elementary, middle, secondary and postsecondary schools would fuel growth for counselors in this field. Nationally in May 2018, the average salary for educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors was about $56,310 per year (

Continuing Education

Although no continuing education hours are given, the IECA offers semiannual conferences that include educational classes. They also have a summer training institute that offers up to 27 continuing education units. Links to professional resources are also part of the IECA website. Testing with the National Board for Certified Counselors for the credential of National Certified School Counselor (NCSC) is an option for graduates of school counseling master's degree programs. Most states have certification requirements; some allow the NCSC as the only requirement needed. Continuing education requirements to maintain the certification are state defined. Recertification may be required every 3-10 years, with five years being the most common interval. The National Association for College Admission Counseling offers webinars and other training opportunities. The National College Advocacy Group (NCAG) also has webinars for advisors.

Educational planning certificates and degree programs are available for students who are passionate about helping others discover their own educational and career pathways. Degree recipients can seek employment as counselors, advisors and educational consultants.

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