The Definitive Guide: How To Become A Consultant
What Is A Consultant?
Are you an analytical thinker with good interpersonal skills that likes providing solutions to a problem?
As a consultant you are employed to provide expert and professional advice to your client. You are there to ‘consult’ on their business, identifying weaknesses and recommending solutions. A consultant is sometimes termed a ‘Management Analyst’.
You can either be an internal consultant operating and employed by an organisation, although most likely you will be employed as an external consultant where a business will pay for your expertise on a temporary, flexible basis and for a purpose rather than an on-going need.
As a consultant you can work across a number of different areas, including travel, finance, law, marketing, sales, engineering, business systems, recruitment, taxation, compliance, beauty, security and other such specialised fields.
The job title consultant is a very broad term across a number of industries. One may be employed to devise a business strategy, fill a skills or knowledge gap, be a facilitator or a catalyst for change. In short, you would provide professional, expert advice and opinion on what needs to be done to fulfil the business needs. A Consultant will also bring fresh ideas and perspective into an organisation.
The business/ client pays for a consultant, usually for a fixed period of time.
Hours of Work
Consultants will work office hours but typically do extend these hours, often working circa 60-70 hours per week. This does depend on your role, field and project. Typically for Consultants, there is also quite a lot of travel involved.
Your primary role is to improve the position of the client/ business you work with. This is through expert advice and guidance, solving problems, facilitating change and/or creating better efficiencies. The day-to-day work you do, can and does vary significantly, but as a whole, you can expect the following:
- Meeting with clients to ensure you understand the business and it’s requirements
- Get in depth information and understanding of the business you are working with
- Understand up to date trends and strategies
- Gather input and data
- Prepare analysis
- Provide advice to solve problems
- Improve growth and success of the business
- Work cohesively and lead
- Communicate results
- Continue to provide on-going support to your clients
Key Consultant Qualifications
Do you have the qualifications to get the job?
As a potentially lucrative career, becoming a Consultant is extremely competitive, so you do need to have the best grades, be the one that stands out at interview, network so that you meet some strong industry contacts and consistently perform well as your career develops.
You must have a strong business acumen, and most employers would require a bachelor’s degree, with a major in business, finance, management or similar. It would be ideal if your course topics included project management, statistics, communication and accounting as an example. Some companies will also require a Masters.
Of course you will also need to have in depth experience and knowledge in a particular field.
You can also take a number of professional qualifications through The Institute of Consulting, who are the dedicated professional body for the consulting industry. Find more information here.
Vital Consultant Skills
Aside from your vast knowledge and experience in your chosen field, the below skills are also necessary to succeed as a Consultant:
What Is A Consultant’s Salary?
Now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty…
Consulting is a very diverse field, so salaries will vary depending on your area of expertise, industry, speciality and location and of course whether you are working internally for an organisation or as a self-employed Consultant.
Typically Consultants can expect to earn a high salary with additional benefits including bonuses, health benefits and profit sharing. A starting salary for a junior is circa £27,000 and experienced Consultants can earn a salary of circa £90,000 and more.
How To Become A Consultant
First of all you need to understand where your strengths lie and which area of expertise you should establish your career. Ensure you have strong business acumen and are motivated for a career as a Consultant as it can be long hours and stressful days, whilst lucrative and fulfilling. You should already have a degree as highlighted above so it is also worth exploring extra qualifications to make your CV stronger. Networking is certainly recommended in this industry to ensure you make strong contacts, either for a job yourself or as potential clients further down the line in your career. Then it is a case of simply getting your CV out to companies that you wish to work for, either direct through your own desktop research or using a job board, or recruitment agency who can represent you.
How To Develop Your Consultant career
This is a job where experience pays and you can quickly go up the career ladder. You may start at a small company, and aim for one of the best-known consultancy organisations, which will excel you on brilliantly. Once you have a great network of clients and a fantastic industry reputation, there is no reason why you can’t set up your own consultancy business.
Consultants are in huge demand, and the most popular areas to work are: financial, HR, compliance and risk, strategy consulting and operations consulting. It is predicted the number of Consultants will keep increasing as technological changes keep developing so this is a prosperous career to choose.
Your choice of employers is also vast. You could work for a management consultancy in a large generalist organisation offering a multitude of services, (research the big 4!), or for a smaller business which is more niche and specialist. As consultants are required in all sectors, including HR, finance, IT and healthcare, the choice is plentiful.
You can find some of the best consultant related roles with brands such as American Express, London College of Beauty Therapy, Steiner, DW Sports, Levy, Britannia Hotels and many more.