How to Become a Business Consultant – Forbes Advisor
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Business consultants are essential in helping a business stay competitive in an ever-changing marketplace. Most business consultants need a bachelor’s degree in business, social sciences, or engineering, and an MBA can also be a good option.
A career path in business consulting can provide individuals with competitive salaries and plenty of job opportunities after college. If you want to become 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 the leaders of an organization. A consultant can also support the implementation of their recommendations. The business consultant title can vary by company or industry and can include titles like management analyst, business consultant, strategy consultant, operations consultant, financial consultant, or even leadership consultant.
Consultants will conduct studies on the problems an organization is trying to solve. Studies may include interviews with staff and observation of workplace methods and practices. They will also analyze their findings, determine solutions, and schedule meetings to review the recommendations with management.
Business Consultant Job Outlook
Business consulting careers are expected to grow faster than average over the next decade and have attractive salaries. As technology continues to reshape a host of industries, markets will become more competitive, forcing businesses to operate more effectively and efficiently.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects strong demand for business consultants in healthcare and information technology. Health care demand is expected as costs rise with an aging population. Information technology consultants are expected to be in demand as internet-based organizations will need increased cybersecurity to protect themselves and their customers.
Business consulting ranks among the highest median earners across all occupational groups. According to the BLS, a business consultant or management analyst earns a median income of $93,000the top 90% earning $163,760.
Key Skills for a Business Consultant
Having highly effective communication skills is crucial for a business consultant. Being an effective communicator will foster the relationship between consultant and client. Not only do you need to convey your ideas clearly to your client, but being able to understand their issues and needs will help you determine the best course of action to take.
Other advanced skills include in-depth knowledge of the industry or company you work in, as well as problem-solving and creative thinking skills. A solid understanding of these capabilities will allow you to provide advice and recommendations that will help your client stay ahead of the game.
Steps to becoming a business consultant
Working as a business consultant requires a special skill set. Not only do you need to have in-depth knowledge of an industry, but you also need to have the ability to think creatively, communicate effectively, and have analytical and leadership skills.
Earn a bachelor’s degree
A bachelor’s degree is usually a requirement for become a business consultant. Many business consultants also earn a designation such as Certified Management Consultant (CMC).
Students should consider a major that emphasizes business, including business management, marketing, accounting, and finance. In addition, social science and engineering degrees also have their strengths, especially if a student plans to work as a consultant in the field in which he specializes.
Students may also consider choosing a major that matches the industry in which you want to provide consulting services.
Consider an MBA program
Although not required as a consultant, earning an MBA will make you more attractive for higher paying positions in consulting firms. An MBA is also an opportunity to network with professionals in the field and gain additional knowledge about certain industries.
Additionally, if you are an entrepreneur or are planning to start your own consulting business, earning an MBA will help strengthen your ethics and could expand your customer base.
Certifications are not a requirement for success as a business consultant, but they can be beneficial. Consider both of these certifications, but note that there are many types of certifications available.
the Project Management Professional (PMP) offered by the Project Management Institute can show potential clients that you understand the needs of a business. The designation validates your understanding of the technical aspects of managing a project, the soft skills needed to influence a project team, and the relationship between organizational strategy and a project.
The US Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) offers the internationally recognized professional designation of Certified Management Consultant (CMC). This certification shows clients your competence in professional knowledge and your commitment to ethical practices.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to become a business consultant?
You can expect to take a minimum of six years to become a business consultant. You will need to complete a bachelor’s degree and ideally an internship before spending a few years gaining experience in the field.
How to 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 graduating, you can pursue an MBA or enter the workforce to gain experience and knowledge in your industry. Alternatively, if you already have expertise in a particular area, you can start and scale your own consulting business.
What kind of consultants make the most money?
Systems consultants and financial consultants earn the most money. For systems consultants, the increased demand for cybersecurity is a driving force in the field. Financial consultants, especially those who work for large, well-known companies, also often have high salaries.