How much can you earn as an L&D consultant

One of the hardest decisions in going independent is deciding your price points. Other consultants are reluctant to share their rates. Some will, and it can be an enlightening conversation.

So, to help those either in the L&D consulting space, or considering it, here’s my take on this side of stuff.

My standard day rate is £1200. That’s based on several factors. I can pay my tax and VAT bills from that. I can pay myself something from that. I can keep some money in the bank account. As a rule of thumb, I place 25% of the rate into a separate account to pay for VAT and tax.

That day rate, though, may not be work done in one day. Often its half day here, an hour there and some more hours in other places.

My half-day rate is £700 and my rate for an hour’s webinar is £350.

With each of these, I will nearly always include design and thinking costs. The rates for that are the same as the day rate. Want me for a day’s worth of work? That’s two days worth of design and thinking.

If I do associate work, that can vary a lot. £650 a day tends to be lower end, £1000 a day is the better end. Don’t forget with associate work, much of the client engagement side of life, and the winning of the work is already done by the lead consultant/provider. So although I may also include design work, it’s more about preparation of materials and any additional research I might need to do.

Also, I am really clear on the consultancy work I want to be involved in. I’ve done little training or facilitation work. Yes, the work I have delivered has involved doing training or facilitation work, but they aren’t the solutions I’m initially providing.

With a sales team I worked with it was about improving their team dynamics as a team. With a group of front-line workers it was about developing their resilience. With a group of instructional designers it was about upskilling them to learn about experience design.

And I’ve done a lot of webinars. But the topics have been quite clear – L&D technology, L&D strategy, emotional intelligence, positive psychology, wellbeing. Areas that I have specialty in.

It has been rare for me to have worked with one client and rely on them for either retained work, or ongoing work. That’s because I am not seeking to do repeatable work such as regular training. The work I tend to have done has been more for a clear purpose or scope, and once completed that’s no more work from that client. So my better revenue months have tended to be where I’ve been doing work for at least 3-4 clients.

Through the network, I was grateful for people letting me know about different opportunities for consultancy work. Many times I had to say no because it didn’t meet the work I wanted to be involved in. Where I did say yes it’s because I knew they would be getting my best thinking and my best delivery.

There will be, and there are, consultants who charge different rates. Some charge a lot more than I do. Some charge much less. There’s no rights and wrongs with the rates. It’s about knowing what you need to charge so you can cover normal day to day stuff.

I also haven’t discussed putting together proposals of work or responding to tender requests. I’ve tried both, and it’s not an easy world to navigate from a cost perspective. Typically work of that nature is longer form, and there is more budget available. However, you’re also likely to need additional help yourself to deliver the work else you’ll be doing a lot of hard work and juggling many parts of a moving project. And if not then you need to be cool with relying on that project to deliver for you just as much as you deliver for them.

As I now re-enter full-time work, I can put all this on hold and not have to think about it again for the foreseeable. I share the above to allow some more open conversation about this part of consultant living.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

2 thoughts on “How much can you earn as an L&D consultant”

  1. Thanks for sharing your insights here Sukh. I’ve often wondered as an in-house professional what goes on behind the scenes in the consultant world and your words are very helpful.

    I like how you specifically mention being able to say no to work that just doesn’t interest you. I imagine this is important because otherwise, saying yes to everything would be like being back with an employer again.

    1. Part of saying no is also about recognising I don’t want to just do any work. I could have been involved in a lot more work, but it wouldn’t be work that I cared about or align with my values.

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