Teaching Careers and Professional Development Updated March 1, 2020

Early Childhood Policy Consultant Career: Job and Salary Information

By Robbie Bruens

Few things do more good than providing a safe and stimulating environment for young children to thrive. Early childhood policy consultants help make that happen. Conducting research and evaluating data to help policymakers figure out how to give more kids a chance to fulfill their potential, early childhood policy consultants impact education in real and meaningful ways.

At-a-glance: early childhood policy consultants

Early childhood policy consultant job description

Most employers who hire early childhood policy consultants expect them to have an advanced degree (master’s or doctorate) in a field related to education or public policy. Salaries for early childhood policy consultants vary by location, employer and education level. Here’s a range of income estimates for early childhood policy consultants:

Early childhood policy consultants work with nonprofit organizations and governments at the local, state, and federal levels. Conducting both qualitative and quantitative analyses, they develop regulations, policies, funding mechanisms, and legislation for early childhood care and education. They analyze and research education and child care systems to determine whether legal and institutional guidelines are effectively serving children from infancy to age five, as well as identify opportunities for innovation.

Typical Duties:

  • Researching topics affecting child care or schooling for young children in the U.S.
  • Comparing U.S. child care and early education policies to international counterparts
  • Collecting and analyzing information, including data from surveys of children, parents, caregivers, social workers, and teachers
  • Using qualitative and quantitative methodologies to develop and test theories
  • Examining how current early childhood policies affect the public — children, parents, schools, and society at large
  • Determining the effect of child care, preschool and other interventions on broad economic measures
  • Keeping up-to-date on events, policy decisions, trends, and other issues with implications for the care and education of young children and infants
  • Compiling findings to publish analytical research and editorials
  • Preparing briefings for policymakers and other stakeholders
  • Developing sophisticated forecasts of political, economic, and social trends related to the development of children and families
  • Conducting cost/benefit analyses and making recommendations to legislators and government officials
  • Assisting in the negotiation of contracts between government agencies and private businesses/nonprofit organizations/foundations

While many of these duties happen across a spectrum of early childhood policy consulting jobs, many will be determined by the environment of employment.

Working for a university or nonprofit foundation, time will be spent writing grants or other funding proposals. Other duties may include participating in academic conferences and publishing articles in professional, peer-reviewed journals.

Work in the private sector may help businesses set up high quality on-site child care for employees and their families. Duties may include drafting flexible benefit packages that include child care subsidies. Businesses marketing products to young children, families, or preschools and day care centers frequently hire early childhood policy consultants to help with product development or sales.

Other early childhood policy consultants find employment by preschools, day care centers or government agencies. Within these work environments, duties include identifying strengths and weaknesses of specific programs and recommending changes while deciphering the potential impact on children of bills under consideration by Congress.

Early childhood policy consultants’ employers may include:

  • Government agencies
  • Legislative or executive offices of state or federal governments
  • Nonprofit/charitable foundations
  • Think tanks
  • Universities and other educational institutions
  • Political or activist organizations
  • Political candidates’ campaigns
  • Lobbying firms serving a wide variety of clients
  • Corporate clients’ marketing and/or public affairs departments

Who makes a good early childhood policy consultant?

Someone who is:

  • Skilled at identifying problems and brainstorming potential solutions
  • Creative and always generating ideas
  • Attentive to details
  • Skilled with statistics and data
  • Highly curious
  • A lifelong learner
  • Capable of absorbing lots of information quickly
  • An excellent communicator
  • Comfortable working independently and collaboratively with other team members
  • Careful about documentation and note-taking
  • Qualified with an education or public policy-related degree

In-depth: Early childhood policy consultants

Most of the work of an early childhood policy consultant involves identifying and researching the key issues in early childhood care and education. The issues may include learning approaches for early literacy and numeracy, school readiness, teacher and caregiver training, funding/financing strategies, program accessibility, and comprehensive family support. Early childhood policy consultants will then compose well-reasoned recommendations for the best policy solutions, clearly spelling out the benefits and drawbacks.

Education requirements

  • Education: Master’s or doctorate degree
  • Typical study time: 6-8 years

Most employers who hire early childhood policy consultants expect them to have a master’s or doctoral degree in a field related to education, child development, or public policy. Hands-on experience working with children under age five can be helpful, but it’s not required. Far more important is experience applying quantitative analysis techniques, successfully conducting original research and a knowledge of the historical context of early childhood policy.

Salary range for early childhood policy consultants

Early childhood policy consultant salaries vary based on experience, state of employment, and education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary is $99,730. Early childhood policy consultants earn salaries commensurate with their experience, according to the BLS. A policy analyst with less experience may be hired to work in a government agency for $50,000 to $60,000 a year. Experienced analysts, on the other hand, can easily earn $100,000 a year in a senior position and even more if they pursue outside consulting work.

Here is a snapshot of early childhood policy consultants:

  • Payscale.com: $62,386
  • Salary.com: $94,837
  • Indeed.com: $81,000
  • Glassdoor.com: $64,008
  • SalaryExpert.com: $ 73,223

Advantages and disadvantages

Pros

  • Positively impacting the education system
  • Intellectually challenging
  • High pay relative to direct caregiving or preschool teaching
  • High likelihood of earning health insurance and retirement benefits

Cons

  • Government bureaucracies
  • Less opportunity to work directly with kids compared to other jobs in education
  • Work can be politicized and highly controversial

Professional development for early childhood policy consultants

Professional development is a constant for policy consultants. It is imperative to stay abreast of education news and policies, as well as government legislation.

Successful early childhood policy consultants often join professional organizations. Conferences are available for access to networking opportunities with other public policy professionals as well as informative presentations and programs regarding policy and management systems.

Professional organizations

Best of the web

The internet makes it easy to connect with prominent early childhood policy consultants. Here is a list of our favorites:

Early childhood policy consultant websites and blogs

Early childhood policy consultant Twitter and Instagram accounts to follow

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