Business consultants use their experience and education to solve complex problems and improve operations for businesses of all sizes
There are several areas of consulting for you to consider, with a few common ones being:
As a business consultant, you can advise CEOs and other C-level executives at large corporations or work with small to medium-sized businesses that need professional expertise. This profile can help determine if this is the right career path for you.
Top reasons to pursue a career in business consulting
Strong job growth
Job growth for business consultants is expected to remain strong since businesses always need to:
Understand consumer trends
Evaluate market strategies
Manage finances effectively
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the demand for business consultants and management analysts will increase by 11% between 2019 and 2029—which is much faster than the U.S. national average. This represents an increase of 93,800 jobs during that span, and indicates professional stability as more businesses seek to leverage operational efficiency with environmental awareness, social responsibility, community involvement, and other areas of consideration.
High earning potential
Income can vary depending on whether you work at an independent company or are part of a larger corporation. The median annual wage for business consultants was $85,260 as of May 2019, according to the BLS.
Positive impact for businesses
Flexibility, industry knowledge, and resourcefulness are all key to success as a business consultant. You will use this valuable skill set to develop sustainable solutions that support business objectives for the companies you work with. In the corporate world, you’ll work with senior executives to help them tackle significant challenges in a fast-paced and exciting environment.
For smaller and local businesses that may lack the time and resources to strategize solutions and research possibilities, you will offer valuable contributions that can mean the difference between success or failure for these companies that support the foundation of the economy.
Personal and professional development
Continually updating your skill set can provide you with the depth of knowledge — combined with your existing experience — to help meet the unique needs of different companies that rely on you to solve their problems. What you learn in one situation can be useful in the next. As you gather more experience, you’ll become more valuable and confident in your field.
The more proficient you become, the faster you can advance. You’ll learn about different company cultures and establish a network of industry professionals for future opportunities.
Next-generation technologies are making it easier to automate and scale data gathering, insights, and decision-making. It will be critical for you to integrate the powers of these technologies to provide better and faster insights to clients.
Because business consultants are now expected to engage a number of businesses in different industry sectors, the need for collaborative consulting is on the rise. Combining your knowledge of business fundamentals with unique insights from clients, you will analyze the situation and help implement recommendations. Technical consultants can be brought in as needed, and this approach is more likely to bring about successful organizational change.
As freelancing is on the rise, clients have more flexibility to choose a consultant who matches their business needs and price point. They will expect an estimate of costs up front, full transparency around what they are getting for the service, and the ability to negotiate what they consider a fair deal. You also will need to be sensitive to meeting budget constraints and other financial concerns that may arise.
What are the areas of opportunity for a business consultant?
What are the different types of business consultant jobs?
Depending on the type of consulting, the career path for business consultants can vary. Working with large corporations can lead to in-house positions, while focusing on small businesses can result in building your own consulting firm that serves the needs of many clients.
As environmental concerns rise, companies will be required to address the impact that business decisions can have on their communities. This increases the need for educated specialists who can ensure the environmental compliance and leadership of a business.
Digital and online transactions increase the need for businesses to minimize the risk of data breaches that could impact their privacy, as well as that of their customers. Technical consultants, such as information security analysts, can provide security for business owners and corporations by implementing measures that prevent information from falling into the wrong hands.
Information security analysis is a field that is taking off, with a projected growth rate of 31% from 2019 to 2029, based on information from the BLS. It’s easy to see why, as cyberattacks and hackers become more sophisticated and represent a serious threat to businesses and consumers.
Marketing analysts and consultants
Finding and retaining customers is an ongoing task for businesses, and the old ways are no longer effective. And with data science becoming more popular each day, businesses are increasingly reliant on data mining, predictive analytics, and other techniques to know who is buying what.
Market research analyst jobs are expected to see an 18% increase from 2019 to 2029, due to the volume of data and research available to businesses. Having a master’s degree in business or marketing can be important for securing work in this field.
Most entry-level positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Professional certifications may be acquired through industry service organizations, which provides enhanced credentials for those seeking to specialize in a specific industry sector.
Below are some business consultant salaries in entry-level ￼roles:
Management analyst: $85,260
Environmental scientist and specialist: $71,360
Information security analyst: $99,730
Market research analyst: $63,790
Advanced careers for business consultants
With additional experience and training, you can increase the scope of your responsibilities as well as your income, since average salary and available job opportunities vary based on your years of experience in the field.
A senior consultant can serve both internal and external functions for the company.
Internal functions may include:
Coordinating, directing, and overseeing junior analysts and contractors
Working with principals and partners to support large initiatives and business development
Guiding development of programs, workshops, interviews, documentation, etc.
External functions may include:
Conducting interviews with clients to understand business conditions, risks, and controls, etc.
Auditing the marketplace and the competitive environment
Performing financial analyses and making recommendations for moving forward
Creating reports and management presentations
Salary estimates for these types of jobs include:
Professional, scientific, and technical services consultant: $91,160
Finance and insurance: $84,940
Management of companies and enterprises: $84,390
Do you need a license or certification to be a business consultant?
A bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum entry point for most consultant positions. However, a master’s degree could be necessary depending on the scope of the position.
Further, some fields require special licenses or certificates to work in that industry. For example, if you wish to work in the financial industry, a Chartered Accountant (CA), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), or similar certifications are often foundational requirements for consulting roles.
Top skills and digital tools for business consultants
The skills discussed below are expected to see significant growth in employer demand over the next five years.
According to recent research, the following skills have been identified as having the highest projected growth from 2018 to 2023 in the business management industry:
Projected Posting Growth (2018-2023)
General Sales Practices
Software Quality Assurance
Microsoft Office and Productivity Tools
Software Development Principles
Advanced Microsoft Excel
Key Performance Indicators
Source: Burning Glass Technologies
Top emerging skills
The fastest-growing business consultant skills that employers are looking for and that are predicted to grow by more than 50% through 2023 are:
Leadership and management
Some of the more popular tools you may be expected to become familiar with are:
Business consultant internships
While there are unpaid internship opportunities in the consulting industry that can help enhance your resume, networking and professional organizations are excellent resources for additional education and training. The Development Finance Corporation in Washington, D.C., offers a selection of unpaid internships in many different fields.
Business consultant associations
Society of Professional Consultants: This organization offers networking, mentoring, and education for new and seasoned consultants, solo professionals, and entrepreneurs nationwide.
Institute of Management Consultants: This national volunteer organization helps senior leaders to grow professionally by providing knowledge, resources, and tools for consulting success. The IMCUSA offers training to enhance skills, certification, and networking opportunities.
National Society of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants: This organization offers networking and information that is specific to the health care industry. It also fosters professional growth and strategies for best practices. Members can earn certification through the Certified Healthcare Business Consultant Program.
Professional & Technical Consultants Association: Based in Silicon Valley, this association serves independent consultants and their client companies. Members are required to pass a qualification process and follow a code of ethics. Supported disciplines include biotech, engineering, software design, cloud computing, and more.
A growing career field
The demand for management analysts is projected to increase by 11% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than many other occupations. This projected growth makes it a great time to consider a career in business consulting. No matter your interests or goals, there’s probably a company out there that can benefit from your guidance and expertise.