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Business consultants are essential to helping businesses stay competitive in an ever-changing market. Most business consultants require a bachelor's degree in business, social science, or engineering, but an MBA can also be a good option.
The business consulting career path offers individuals a competitive salary and many job opportunities after college. If you're interested in becoming a business consultant, read on for an overview of what you need to know.
What does a business consultant do?
A business consultant's job is to provide advice and recommendations to organizational leaders. Consultants may also assist in implementing recommendations. Business consultant titles vary by company and industry and may include titles such as management analyst, business advisor, strategy consultant, operations consultant, financial consultant, and leadership consultant.
Consultants conduct research on the problems an organization is trying to solve. Research may include interviews with employees and observations of methods and practices used within the workplace. We also conduct meetings to analyze our findings, determine solutions, and discuss recommendations with management.
Business consultant job outlook
Business consultant careers are expected to grow faster than average over the next decade and offer attractive salaries. As technology continues to reshape numerous industries, markets will become more competitive and companies will be required to operate more efficiently and effectively.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates strong demand for consultants specializing in specific business functions, such as human resources and information technology. For example, businesses rely on IT consultants to maintain security and efficiency. BLS also predicts that government agencies will request consultants to optimize their operations.
Business consultants are among the highest earners of all occupational groups. According to the BLS, the median income for a business consultant or management analyst is $95,290, with the top 90% earning more than $167,650.
Top skills needed for business consultants
Having effective communication skills is very important for business consultants. Effective communication improves the relationship between consultant and client. Not only do you need to clearly communicate your ideas to your client, but being able to understand their problems and needs will help you determine the best course of action to take.
Other top skills include in-depth knowledge of the industry or business you work in, as well as problem-solving and creative thinking skills. Once you have a solid grasp of these competencies, you will be able to provide advice and recommendations that will help your clients stay ahead of the curve.
Steps to become a business consultant
Working as a business consultant requires a special skill set. Not only do you need to have in-depth knowledge of the industry, you also need the ability to think creatively, communicate effectively, and have analytical and leadership skills.
get a bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually required to become a business consultant. Many business consultants also have certifications such as Certified Management Consultant (CMC).
Students should consider majors with a business focus, such as business administration, marketing, accounting, or finance. In addition, degrees in social sciences and engineering also have advantages, especially if the student plans to work as a consultant in the field of study.
Students should also consider choosing a major that matches the industry in which they wish to consult.
Consider an MBA program
Although not required, completing an MBA program can make you more attractive for a high-paying position at a consulting firm. An MBA is also an opportunity to network with experts in the field and gain additional knowledge about a specific industry.
Additionally, if you are an entrepreneur or plan to start your own consulting business, earning an MBA will boost your spirits and help you expand your client base.
Certifications are not a prerequisite for success as a business consultant, but they can be beneficial. Consider these two certifications. However, keep in mind that there are different types of certifications you can earn.
Project Management Professional (PMP)® from Project Management Institute helps you show potential clients that you understand their business needs. This certification demonstrates an understanding of the technical aspects of project management, the soft skills needed to influence teams, and how organizational strategy relates to the scope of a project.
The Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) offers the internationally recognized professional designation of Certified Management Consultant (CMC). This certification demonstrates to clients the competence of our expertise and our commitment to ethical practices.
How long does it take to become a business consultant?
It is expected that it will take at least six years to become a business consultant. You will need to earn a bachelor's degree and ideally complete an internship before spending several years gaining experience in the field.
How can I start a career in consulting?
You can start a career in consulting by earning a bachelor's degree in business, social science, or engineering. After completing your degree, you can pursue an MBA or get a job within the industry to gain experience and knowledge. Alternatively, if you already have expertise in a particular field, you can start and expand your own consulting business.
Which type of consultant earns the most?
Systems consultants and financial consultants are the most lucrative. For systems consultants, the growing demand for cybersecurity is a driving force in the field. Financial consultants, especially those working for large, well-known companies, often have high salaries.