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consultant vs. Engineer: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A consultant is a person who provides professional or expert advice in a particular area of expertise. An engineer is a professional who applies scientific knowledge to design, build and maintain structures, machines, devices, systems and materials. Both roles require a high level of education and experience. In this article, we compare and contrast the job titles of consultant and engineer.

What is a Consultant?

Consultants provide expert advice in a particular area of business, such as marketing, human resources, information technology or financial management. They are hired by companies to help them improve their operations, solve specific problems or make strategic decisions. Consultants typically have extensive experience in their field and are able to offer unbiased, objective advice. They develop customized solutions for each client and may work with a team of other consultants to provide the most comprehensive service possible. After completing a project, consultants may be asked to provide ongoing support to ensure that the solutions they implemented are effective.

What is an Engineer?

Engineers are professionals who apply their scientific and mathematical knowledge to develop products, services or systems. They work in a variety of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, construction and transportation. Engineers typically specialize in a particular type of engineering, such as mechanical, electrical or civil engineering. In some cases, they may also specialize in a specific industry, such as automotive engineering or aerospace engineering. Engineers typically use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create models and prototypes of their designs. They may also use analytical and simulation software to test their designs before they are built.

Consultant vs. Engineer

Here are the main differences between a consultant and an engineer.

Job Duties

Consultants and engineers share some job duties, such as researching a project or problem, developing solutions and advising clients. However, their job duties differ in scope and detail. For example, a consultant might advise a client on how to improve business operations. To do this, they might identify challenges the client faces and suggest strategies for overcoming them.

In contrast, an engineer might design a solution for the same challenge by creating equipment or software that helps clients more effectively complete tasks. An engineer might also directly oversee the implementation of their solution, such as by instructing employees on how to use new equipment or software.

Job Requirements

Consultants typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration, engineering or another relevant field. Many consultants also have a master’s degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Some employers prefer candidates who have experience working in the industry they want to consult in. For example, a consultant who wants to advise clients in the healthcare industry might have worked as a registered nurse or doctor before becoming a consultant.

Engineers usually need at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited engineering program. Some engineers pursue a master’s degree or even a doctorate, but it is not required for most entry-level positions. Engineers must also be licensed in the state where they want to practice. To become licensed, engineers must pass two exams: the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. The first exam can be taken after earning a bachelor’s degree, while the second exam is only available to those who have several years of professional experience.

Work Environment

Engineers typically work in an office or lab setting. They may also travel to construction sites and other locations where they can perform their duties. Some engineers work for the military, so they may spend time on a military base.

Consultants usually work from home offices or shared spaces with other consultants. They may also travel to meet with clients and attend meetings. Consultants often work long hours and weekends to complete projects within deadlines.


Both consultants and engineers need to have excellent problem-solving skills. This is because a large part of their job is identifying issues and developing solutions that address those issues. They also both need to be able to effectively communicate with clients and colleagues.

Consultants typically need strong interpersonal skills so that they can build relationships with clients and understand their needs. They also need to be able to think creatively to come up with innovative solutions to problems. Engineers need to have strong analytical skills so that they can break down complex problems and develop logical solutions. They also need to be detail-oriented in order to create accurate designs and plans.


Consultants can earn an average salary of $84,847 per year, while engineers can earn an average salary of $89,577 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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