How Can I Become a Business Consultant?

Research what it takes to become a business consultant. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Business degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Business Consultant?

Business consultants - also known as management analysts - have a wide variety of specialties, like human resources, economics or management. Their main task is to find ways of improving the efficiency of organizations and companies. Business consultants are an important part of any organization because of their ability to increase revenues while reducing costs. When evaluating a company's efficiency, they might conduct studies, produce procedures manuals, or work with current management to make things run better. They are often hired when a company is starting up, and they are usually kept on until the staff is well trained in the areas it was failing in.

Read the following table to learn about the required education to enter this career, as well as certification options in the field of business consulting.

Degree Required Bachelor's or master's degree
Education Field of Study Accounting
Finance
Business management
Information systems
Certification Option Voluntary certification available
Key Skills Detail oriented, people person, problem solving
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 14% (for all management analysts)
Average Salary (2015)* $91,770 (for all management analysts)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Type of Consultant Would You Like to Be?

Business consulting firms can range in size and provide a variety of services, but most consultants tend to specialize within a field. Here are some examples of possible specialties you can choose:

  • Marketing
  • Human resources
  • Recruiting
  • Healthcare
  • Agriculture
  • Environmental protection
  • Security
  • Occupational safety
  • Economics
  • Business management

What Formal Education Will I Need?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of management consultants hold a bachelor's degree. Some employers favor candidates with master's degrees (www.bls.gov). You need to have expertise in your chosen field and therefore a minimum of a bachelor's degree in your field of specialty is typically suggested.

As with most industries, you may have the chance to advance within a company once you are hired, but it typically requires further education to do so. If you hold a bachelor's degree, you will likely begin working as a research assistant. Holding a graduate degree will allow you to start working as a consultant.

How Can I Continue My Education?

Once you have been hired, employers usually offer on-the-job training. Typically, this training focuses on industry and company-specific skills and knowledge. Consulting firms often focus on improving their employee's analytical, management and communications skills.

In addition to in-house training, many firms utilize training seminars from outside companies. The Institute of Management Consultants USA, Inc. (IMC USA) is one such training organization that provides workshops, seminars and conferences where industry professionals gather and share knowledge.

In addition to training, the IMC USA offers certifications, such as the Certified Management Consultant (CMC), which may be helpful when you are trying to advance in your career (www.imcusa.org). To earn this designation, you must meet education and experience requirements and prove you are competent in your field through passing a certification exam. The CMC credential must be renewed every three years and requires proof of continuing professional development.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you like the idea of being a business consultant or management analyst, you might also find a career as a business analyst or operations manager appealing. Business analysts do well in high-stress environments where they must reach conclusions about data and report them to their superiors. They need to have a bachelor's or master's degree in business administration or a similar field. Operations managers oversee the production of services or products in different departments like the warehouse, purchasing, and so on. They need at least a bachelor's degree in management, finance, or a related field.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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