Calvin Chan, senior manager at Australia-based IDP Education consultancy, says his job is about finding the right match for clients.
Based on inquiries received at IDP Hong Kong branch, the most popular destinations for students are Australia, the United States and Britain, Chan says.
"The student's ability, interest, and visa issues are the main things that an education consultant has to take care of," he says We help students submit documents, apply for suitable courses and arrange for accommodations. To achieve this, communication with clients is the most important."
Consultants serve a wide range of clients. Some have a clear goal while others have yet to make up their minds. There are also clients who come for consultation shortly after getting their examination results.
"A consultant needs to explain patiently to clients and their families the options they have. Students who do not have much of an idea of what they want are tough to handle," Chan says. "Getting parents to understand the situation of their children is also important. It is crucial to maintain communication with both parties to make the best decision for the clients."
The academic requirement for education consultants is a bachelor's degree. It is highly preferable that they have studied overseas in order to provide clients a valid advice.
Chan says education consultancy is quite a challenging field and business usually comes by referral.
"Word of mouth is the most important promotion channel for us. We host some exhibitions to promote our service to students who hope to study abroad. The biggest satisfaction I get from my job is seeing clients start off studying in foundation course to getting their PhDs," says Chan.
Newcomers usually make HK$11,000 to HK$13,000 a month. Senior consultants are paid HK$13,000 to HK$16,000.
Best performers may be promoted to assistant manager. Another step up is to be a manager who no longer works at the frontline to serve clients.
Education consultants usually work five and a half days a week. Peak season is from mid-June to October when public examination results are released.
"During the peak season, we must work overtime. When we are less occupied with serving clients, we have to update ourselves about the new programmes and changes in the entrance system," says Chan.