Consultants advise clients on how to improve a business’s efficiency and productivity. They may work with clients on a short-term or ongoing basis. They may work with individuals or with large groups of people. Their goal is to help the client identify problems and find solutions.
Consultants may specialize in a particular field, such as business, information technology, or human resources. They may work in a variety of industries, such as government, education, or manufacturing.
Consultants are usually hired to provide expert knowledge or advice on a particular subject. For example, a management consultant might be called in to help a company develop a strategic plan, while an information technology consultant might help a company with its computer network.
Consultant Job Duties
A consultant’s job is to provide a range of services for a company, organization, or individual. These can include:
- Evaluating the client’s needs and then making recommendations on how to address them
- Creating solutions that are tailored to the client’s specific needs
- Offering advice on a wide range of topics including business strategy, organizational culture, human resources, and more
- Giving presentations and seminars to groups of people about a particular topic or field
- Conducting research into an area of interest for the client
- Drafting proposals for new projects or contracts with clients
Consultants are hired by organizations to improve their efficiency and productivity. They often have specialized knowledge in certain areas such as marketing, finance, or law.
Consultant Salary & Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics reports that the median annual wage for consultants as of May 2020 is $87,660. Those earning higher wages tend to work in the financial industry, and the highest earners of the profession are making over $156,840 per year.
Job opportunities in the field are expected to grow by 11% between 2019-2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for consulting services is expected to increase as organizations seek ways to improve efficiency and control costs. As markets become more competitive, firms will need to use resources more efficiently.
Consultant Job Requirements
The requirements for a consultant are as follows:
Education: Most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in a relevant area. These areas may include business, engineering or a related subject. Business and engineering degrees are especially common for consultants who work in the IT industry. Some may also prefer candidates with a master’s degree in a relevant field.
Training: Consultants do not typically complete a training program to become a consultant. However, many receive on-the-job training and attend seminars and conferences to improve their skill set.
Certifications: Many consultants complete certification programs to make their resumes more attractive to employers. Some of the most common certifications for consultants include Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and Certified Business Consultant (CBC).
The consultant role is a very broad job title that encompasses many different jobs. Some of the skills that consultants commonly need include:
Analytical skills: Consultants must be able to evaluate a company’s strengths and weaknesses and make recommendations based on their findings.
Management skills: Consultants must be able to manage teams of people and handle clients effectively.
Technical skills: Consultants may need to have technical knowledge in order to assess client needs.
Adaptability: Consultants may need to adapt their approach or methods when working with different clients or types of projects.
Confidence: A consultant must be able to convey his or her expertise in a way that inspires confidence.
Consultant Work Environment
Consultants work in a variety of industries, and may also work in a variety of locations. They may work from home, in a company office, at a client’s office, in a hotel room, or even in a client’s home.
Since the work is project-driven, it can be intense and deadlines are often tight. The work may also be stressful, as consultants are often under pressure to meet the client’s needs.
Consulting is a rewarding career, but it can be risky. You must be able to manage your time effectively and plan for the unexpected. It can be hard to predict how much work you will have, and therefore, how much money you will make.
Consultant Career Advancement
A consultant can enjoy a long and lucrative career, but only if he or she is able to demonstrate expertise in a certain area. The best consultants are never done learning. They are constantly taking classes, attending seminars, reading industry publications, and otherwise staying on top of their field.
Consultants can advance to many different positions, including project manager, executive advisor, leader of a department, or partner in the organization. The more diverse your professional experience, the more options you’ll have for advancement opportunities.
Here are three trends influencing how Consultants work. Consultants will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Transitioning To A “Business Of One” Model
Another major trend in consulting today is transitioning from an individual consultant to a “business of one” model where firms establish themselves as one person businesses providing bespoke solutions to clients—rather than traditional consultancy teams consisting of several members servicing many different clients at once. This transition has been influenced by trends such as automation and data analytics which are making it easier for individuals to provide quality services.
Big Data Transforms The Role of the Consultant
Since businesses today collect data from every part of their operations, executives at all levels now rely on business analytics to gain insights into what is working and what needs improvement within an organization. This trend is driving a significant increase in demand for expertise in both statistical analysis and machine learning, which will make data analysis skills one of the most sought after over the next decade.
Change Management Consulting Is On The Rise
Change management consulting is an emerging field that includes programs focused on strategic organizational change, implementation of cultural transformation initiatives, and leadership development.
The increasing focus on this type of consulting has been driven by the fact that organizations are seeking out specialized expertise when implementing changes for growth or as a result of unexpected events like mergers or acquisitions. A recent study found that almost 70 percent of companies surveyed felt confident about the future outlook due to increased customer demand and changing technology demands; however, only 31 percent reported success with their initiatives because they lacked sufficient change management expertise.
How to Become a Consultant
1. Planning Your Career Path
A consultant is a professional who advises businesses on various topics, such as improving their customer service or boosting sales. If you are interested in becoming a consultant, consider the different areas of consulting that exist and then tailor your education and experience accordingly.
For example, those who want to work with technology companies may benefit from earning an information systems degree while someone more interested in financial advising might find success by studying economics at the graduate level. Regardless of which field you choose to pursue, remember that entry-level positions often require some type of certification; for instance, public relations consultants need a bachelor’s degree plus relevant coursework before they can sit for any exams by the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America).
2. Writing a Resume
If you are looking to become a consultant, your resume should emphasize how your skills can benefit a company. In addition to the relevant education and experience that you have, it’s important that you discuss how these traits will allow you to help their businesses solve problems or improve their operations.
When writing about previous positions, be sure to focus on the results of any work performed as well as the amount of time it took for those tasks to be completed. It’s also beneficial if you include a summary section at the top of your resume where employers can see what type of position you’re looking for in consulting and why they should hire you.
3. Applying for Jobs
As a consultant, you’ll want to put your entrepreneurial side to good use. If possible, start building a relationship with potential clients in the field early — perhaps even before graduation. This will give you an advantage when applying for jobs as many firms will look to their trusted networks for their future hires.
4. Ace the Interview
Since the field of consulting is so broad, it is important to demonstrate knowledge of specific areas of consulting that the job will entail. If you are a marketing consultant, make sure you are well-versed in the industry’s most up-to-date trends and how you can apply them to a business’s current strategy. If you are an IT consultant, be prepared to discuss relevant trends in the technology industry and how you can use them to help a company solve its problems.
Don’t forget to be prepared for a wide range of questions that are not necessarily related to your expertise. It is very likely that your interviewer will want to gauge your interpersonal skills, ability to communicate clearly, and the quality of your judgment and decision-making skills. If you want to stand out in a positive way, be sure to emphasize how you can improve your client’s efficiency and bottom line.