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Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) - A Complete Overview

Providing a student with the best educational guidance is a notable goal for any IEC, but it is a difficult one. Often, it may be difficult for a parent to find the right IEC for their child’s needs and an IEC may need additional resources to ensure that their services are up-to-date and accurate. 


Luckily, there is a great organization that aims to “open doors” for IECs. The Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) provides many benefits for their IEC members, such as establishing a diverse network of experts and hosting informational conferences for both experienced and beginner IECs. Joining an organization like the IECA might help you to branch out your business and remain up-to-date on the newest trends in the education consultancy space.


Want to learn more? 


Continue reading this article to know everything you need to know about the IECA, and how you can make the most out of it as an independent education consultant. 


What is the IECA?

The Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) describes itself as a “not-for-profit, international professional association representing experienced independent educational consultants.” Beginning from 1976 in the Washington, DC area, IECA has a broad scope of operations:

  • Sponsors professional training institutes, workshops, conferences, and webinars

  • Publishes a directory of qualified independent educational consultants

  • Offers information to students and their families regarding school selection issues

  • Ensures that those in the profession adhere to the highest ethical and business standards.


The IECA’s core values are Leadership, Service, Integrity, Teamwork, Development, and Respect, and their goals are to support, educate, and advocate for the professional careers of their members. 


How can I apply for membership in the IECA?

The IECA offers multiple tiers of membership depending on the background of the applicant, and those tiers are labeled as Professional, Associate, and Student Membership.


Professional Membership

IECs who have demonstrated a professional mastery with many years of experience may opt for this level of membership. The dues for a Professional membership are $600 annually.


The requirements are as follows:

  • Three years of experience in educational placement counseling or admissions, including a minimum of one year of independent educational consulting.

  • A master’s degree or higher in a relevant field, or a combination of training and experience that demonstrates a mastery of the profession.

  • Minimum number of students advised (during the previous five years) on school, college, or program admission. Either:

  • a) 35 students advised in private practice; OR

  • b) 50 students advised: a minimum of 10 students advised in private practice; the balance personally advised as a counselor or admission professional.

  • A minimum number of evaluative campus visits during the previous five years within each specialty area (only specialties you choose for yourself apply): Boarding/Day Schools: 25 visits; College: 50 visits; Graduate & Professional School:* no visit requirement; LD Schools/Programs:* 25 visits; Therapeutic Programs:* 50 visits.

(*A supplemental application form is required when you add these specialty designations. Note: We have temporarily updated our visit requirement to allow for virtual visits. Virtual visits will be allowed to be included in this list starting from the year 2020. Virtual visits can be included at a 2:1 ratio for those visits that have been provided through IECA and at a 3:1 ratio for those completed outside of IECA. These visits can be submitted for up to 40% of the total towards the requirement. 

  • Three professional references. Suggestions for references include:

  • College or independent school admissions officers

  • Psychologists/counselors

  • Other educational counseling professional with whom applicant has worked in the application process

  • An IECA member

  • Client family

  • Should not be a relative of the applicant


The online application portal for professional members can be found here.


Associate Membership

For IECs who are new to the field of independent educational consulting and expect to meet membership requirements within two years, they may prefer to apply for associate membership. Those who are transitioning into the field of independent consulting from a school or institutional position are welcome to apply for this level of membership as well. Annual dues for an Associate membership are $300.


The requirements are as follows:

  • One year minimum experience in educational placement counseling or admissions. Or alternatively by completing IECA’s Summer Training Institute, a University of California College Counseling Certificate Program such as UCLA Extension, among others, or the UC Irvine Independent Educational Consultant Certificate Program.

  • Established, or be in the process of transitioning to, an independent educational consulting practice.

  • Minimum of a bachelor’s degree.

  • One professional reference. Suggestions for the reference include:

  • College or independent school admissions officers

  • Psychologists/counselors

  • Other educational counseling professional with whom applicant has worked in the application process

  • An IECA member

  • Should not be a relative of the applicant


The online application portal for associate members can be found here.


Student Membership

Graduate-level students studying educational placement counseling or a related field, who are not yet advising students, have not yet established an independent educational consulting practice, and who do not yet qualify for another membership category in the association should apply for Student membership. Annual payment of $140 should be made upon acceptance, and in the years to follow.


The requirements are as follows:

  • A current resumé of professional experiences.

  • Proof of current enrollment in a minimum of two courses (invoice, recent transcripts or current grade report is acceptable), or alternatively, proof of current enrollment in at least one course and a minimum of one additional course already completed.


These documents should be submitted to their online application or emailed to Caitlin@IECAonline.com.


What are resources available to me as an IECA member?

The IECA offers an impressive array of advantages that their members can utilize for their business, which can be categorized into three major areas: 

  • Member Network

  • Member Resources

  • Member Education


Advantage 1: Member Network 

A major benefit of IECA membership is the opportunity to talk to and engage in discussions with other IECs in the field. Outside of the IECA, it is difficult to find similar spaces even in the vastness of the Internet, meaning if you have a burning question you want to ask, you’d be unlikely to receive a helpful answer. 


A feature of the IECA website is an online venue for members to connect with their colleagues. Members are free to ask or respond to questions, share information with your peers, upload materials into libraries, view recent IECA webinars, and reference a calendar of upcoming members-only events. Therefore, joining the IECA may lead you to tap into a wealth of industrial knowledge from experienced professionals in the field.


Furthermore, the member network can be segmented into specific interests to pertain to one’s specialty areas, affinity groups, or regional groups. You are encouraged to establish connections with IECs who have a similar background as you, which can greatly accelerate your professional relationships in the educational consultancy industry. 


Advantage 2: Member Resources 

It’s hard to list all the resources that the IECA offers, since there are simply too many of them to name. 


Some notable resources that may be especially impactful for your business are marketing tools, discounts for your business, campus tours, and the Insights Journal. All of these tools can be used to elevate your operations – improving your marketing practices will impress more clients, utilizing discounted business management tools and discounts on publications will help you connect to more resources, campus will ensure you’re up-to-date on your evaluations of colleges, and the members’ exclusive Insights Journal will contain information on trends in the industry. 


The IECA also has a special program: Mentor Match. For Professional and Associate members, they are welcome to get connected to a mentor who can provide specialized advice based on their consultancy experiences. 


There are many ways for you to get involved in the organization as well. For example, volunteer and leadership opportunities (ranging from a local to a national level) will be available, with varied levels of responsibility and time commitments. 


If you’d like to check if there is a regional group of the IECA located nearby, please check out their Regional Groups page. They have contacts in many prominent US states and Washington D.C., along with global locations in several continents and in countries such as Canada, China, Turkey.


Advantage 3: Member Education

The IECA has many events and avenues for their members to continue learning about the consultancy field, which is perfect for an IEC who wishes to be informed and continue to learn about their industry. 


A distinctive platform for this educational growth is conferences. The IECA organizes many national conferences, which connect IECs from all over the world. Not only are these conferences beneficial for spreading innovative ideas on how to improve your consultancy business, they provide networking opportunities, along with school, college, and program tours. The IECA has an upcoming conference which will take place in Mohegan Sun Resort, Connecticut on May 6–8, 2024, and registration will open in mid-February. 


In addition, if you are a newer entrant into the educational consulting market, you can sign up for the five-day Summer Training Institute. The Institute ensures an extensive curriculum in counseling and communication skills, small business management, and knowledge within one’s specialty, which will be led by successful and experienced faculty. There will also be interactive discussion sessions and resources for attendees as well.


Of course, throughout the year, IECA hosts webinars and workshops, which members can attend at no added cost. They will be available for educational consultants in all specialty areas. 


Final Thoughts

The IECA is a powerful platform for IECs of all backgrounds. No matter your specialty area, region, or experience level, there are opportunities available for you to connect, learn, and grow, which will contribute to the success of your business. Moreover, because of the robustness of the IECA, parents and students will likely be comforted in knowing that they are working with a member of the IECA who can provide them with the best information and resources available for their educational needs. 


If you find that many of the benefits of the IECA are particularly helpful for you, consider applying and becoming a member to supercharge your consultancy knowledge and experience. 



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If you’d like to recommend a rigorous research program open to high schoolers, you may want to consider the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here. You can also reach out to us at contact@lumiere.education to know more, or to have a chat about possible collaborations!


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!


Lydia is currently a junior at Harvard University, studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and Economics. In high school, she was the captain of her high school’s Academic Decathlon team and attended the Governor's School of Engineering and Technology. She aims to become a life sciences consultant after graduation.


Image Source: IECA logo

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