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How Do I Become a Certified Educational Planner?

Research what it takes to become a certified educational planner. Learn about certification and education requirements, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you.

What Is a Certified Educational Planner?

A certified educational planner is a college counselor who has been certified by the American Institute of Certified Educational Planners, a professional organization in the field. College counselors work in postsecondary institutions, where they help students plan out their academic careers by offering advice on course selection, choosing a major and preparing for a career. They may use aptitude and achievement assessments to help students choose their educational paths. They may also direct students toward academic opportunities like study abroad and internships. As students near graduation, college counselors may help them prepare for job interviews or write their resumes.

Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree accepted in rare cases; master's degree is the standard requirement
Education Field of Study Education, human development, counseling
Training Requirements Related work experience is mandatory to obtain certification
Certification Certification is required
Job Growth (2018-2028) 8% growth (for all school and career counselors)*
Mean Salary (2019) $57,247 (higher education counselors)**
$100,153 (education consultants)**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com

What Qualifications Do Certified Educational Planners Need?

Becoming an educational planner is strongly based on experience. As of early 2011, the American Institute of Certified Educational Planners (AICEP) listed nine points of qualification, although not all are absolutely required (www.aicep.org). The first among them is 4-5 years of work experience as a college counselor, education consultant or other occupation related to educational planning. Other certification requirements include:

  • Regular participation in professional educator association meetings over the past five years
  • A master's degree
  • An established history of speaking or writing on educational themes
  • Leadership of a professional association
  • Three or more years of education-related volunteer service experience

The AICEP regards a master's degree as a hard requirement but makes exceptions under a limited set of circumstances. If you don't have a graduate degree but have met the other eight qualifications, you may be considered on a case-by-case basis. You will also need to provide five references.

What Are the Steps for Certification?

You first need to submit an application covering your education, experience and professional activities. If the AICEP accepts your application, you will be eligible for their certification exam. The exam consists of two parts, both requiring you to write essays testing your institutional knowledge and your professional knowledge. Exams are generally offered at major education association events.

In the institutional knowledge section, you list 25 colleges or schools that you visited recently and describe each in terms of their physical location, appearance, admission criteria and most notable academic programs. In the professional knowledge section, you read three cases studies of typical students and suggest an education plan for each.

What Degree Programs Are Available?

The AICEP considers a master's degree in education and related topics such as human development or guidance counseling to be relevant. Master's degree programs are typically completed in 2-3 years. U.S. schools did not appear to be offering master's degree programs in educational planning as of spring, 2011.

A master's degree program in education explores principles of classroom leadership, instructional theory and teaching methods. Some programs offer specializations in elementary education, secondary education and education administration.

Human development programs examine family systems, social policy and physical and psychological changes across the human lifespan. Specialization options might include early childhood education, public administration or family counseling.

Counseling and guidance programs train educators to become competent professional advisers to students. Counseling theories and methods, career development, program development and group dynamics are among the topics considered and skills acquired.

What Salary Could I Earn?

Figures for certified educational planners were not available, but according to Salary.com, as of November 2019, higher education counselors reported a mean salary of $57,247, and education consultants reported a median of $100,153. The middle 80% range for higher education counselors was $42,639-$74,013 and for education consultants was $78,894-$121,413. Payscale.com showed that the middle 80% of college counselors earned a range of $35,000-$72,000, as of November 2019.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Another closely related job option is a counselor at a high school. In this position, you would offer advice about choosing a college or a different post-graduation path, like vocational school, the military or the workforce. You might also help high school students deal with mental health problems, social challenges and other issues. Alternatively, as a marriage and family therapist, you would work with individuals, couples and families to help them deal with issues that are affecting their relationships. To work as a school counselor or marriage and family therapist, you need to earn a master's degree and pass a licensure exam.