How Do Managers Become Management Consultants?

A career as a management consultant can be both financially lucrative and personally rewarding..

The Basics

Becoming a successful consultant or management analyst requires a formal post-secondary education followed by years of hard work and on-the-job training. In addition, the career path is rarely a straight one. Anyone seriously considering a career in the field should be aware of the potential professional twists and turns, and must answer many questions along the way, including: Must I earn a master’s degree to work as a management consultant, or will a bachelor’s degree suffice? Is licensing or certification necessary? Will I work for a consulting firm or a specific agency or business, or can I make it as an independent contractor?

This guide on how to become a consultant explores the profession in detail, including a description of the job’s duties and responsibilities, an explanation of the required skills, and a list of steps one might consider taking to enter the field. In short, if you are interested in a career as a consultant or management analyst, this guide is for you.

What Does a Consultant do?

Consultants are the people who help ensure everything runs smoothly. They do that by working closely with organizations to determine their needs, including procedures that need to be improved or problems that need to be solved. They then interview those involved, look over financial or other statements, develop solutions or alternatives, make recommendations through written reports, help managers understand how to implement the changes, and follow up to ensure the changes are working as expected.

The work required can vary depending upon the company or organization. It can also vary depending upon the specific line of work for that management consultant; for instance, there are consultants for specific industries, such as construction or healthcare. If an analyst chooses to go into government work, they can specialize by the agency.

What Kind of Skills are Required?

Working with people is one of the most important parts of the business, so those who are interested in becoming a consultant should have top-notch people skills. Being able to communicate easily via written and spoken word is also necessary, as is the ability to explain complex situations in very simple terms. You should be able to use your time wisely and solve problems as they arise, no matter how complex they might be. You should also be able to manage your projects and deadlines, especially if you choose to be self-employed.

The Steps:
Becoming a Consultant

Earn a Degree in Business Administration or a Related Field

Professional management consultants may find that a bachelor’s degree is required for most entry-level positions. Bachelor’s degree programs specifically designed for business analysts are rare, however, and many individuals earn their degrees in a related area such as finance, business administration, business management, or accounting. Those students who know the specific field of consultancy they intend to pursue may want to consider a degree in that specific area. For example, someone interested in computer systems may wish to earn a minor in computer science. Other courses of study to consider include marketing, psychology, human resources, engineering, political science and government.

Some businesses and government agencies require candidates to hold a master’s in business administration (MBA) or a related advanced degree. Degree programs in business are extremely popular and can be found at most major universities and many private colleges throughout the United States. Additionally, there are a number of quality distance-learning business degree programs available, offered by both well-established traditional institutions and fully-online schools. Students should be always careful, though, and confirm that a program is fully accredited before beginning their course of study.

Gain High Level Experience

Work experience is a plus in almost every profession. It is crucial in the field of consultancy and management analysis, however. Prior to graduation, or immediately upon earning a degree, an aspiring consultant or management analyst should pursue an entry-level position with the private business, government agency, or non-profit for which he or she wishes to work. Paid employment for starting positions, particularly those in the private sector, is available. But individuals should also consider non-paying internships as a way to get their foot in the door. Many consultants and analysts enter the profession after years of employment, so new graduates may want to consider beginning their careers in a related field. Work experience and on-the-job training provides a wider range of employment options as professionals look to advance their careers.

Consider Certification

Certification is not required to become a management consultant, but it can provide the holder with a real advantage over non-certified job seekers. Certification in the field is offered by a number of professional associations and organizations.

Consider Specialisation and Independence

A management consultant with many years of gainful employment and a solid professional reputation may want to consider striking out on his or her own. Independent consultancy requires a good head for business and a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and often involves significant deal of risk. Success as an independent, however, can be highly rewarding.

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