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How To Become A Business Consultant – Forbes Advisor

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Business consultants are essential for helping a company stay competitive in a constantly changing market. Most business consultants need a bachelor’s degree in business, social sciences or engineering, and an MBA may be a good option as well.

A career path in business consulting can provide individuals with competitive salaries and many job opportunities after college. If you are interested in becoming a business consultant, read more for a snapshot 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 may also support the implementation of their recommendations. The title of business consultant can vary by company or industry, and may include titles like management analyst, business advisor, strategy consultant, operational consultant, financial consultant or even leadership consultant.

Consultants will conduct studies on the issues an organization is trying to solve. Studies may include interviewing personnel and observing the methods and practices used within the workplace. They will also analyze their findings, determine solutions and hold meetings to review recommendations with management.

Business Consultant Job Outlook

Business consultant careers are expected to grow faster than average over the next decade and have attractive salaries. As technology continues to reshape a multitude of industries, markets will become more competitive, requiring businesses to operate more efficiently and effectively.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects there to be a strong demand for business consultants in healthcare and information technology. Demand in healthcare is expected as costs increase with an aging population. Information technology consultants are expected to be in demand as internet-based organizations will require increased cybersecurity to protect themselves and their customers.

Business consultancy is among the highest median earners across all occupational groups. According to the BLS, a business consultant or management analyst earns a median income of $93,000, with the top 90% of earners making $163,760.

Top Skills for a Business Consultant

Having highly effective communication skills is crucial for a business consultant. Being an effective communicator will help the relationship between consultant and client. Not only do you need to clearly convey your ideas to your client, but being able to comprehend their issues and needs will help you determine the best course of action to take.

Other top skills include a depth of knowledge in the industry or business you are working in, as well as problem-solving and creative thinking skills. A firm grasp of these abilities will allow you to give advice and recommendations that will help your client stay ahead of the curve.

Steps to Becoming an Business Consultant

Working as a business consultant requires a particular skill set. Not only do you need to possess deep knowledge of an industry, but you must also have the ability to think creatively, communicate effectively and have analytical and leadership skills.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree is typically a requirement to become a business consultant. Many business consultants also obtain a designation such as a Certified Management Consultant (CMC).

Students should consider a major that includes a focus on business, including business management, marketing, accounting and finances. Additionally, degrees in social sciences and engineering have their strengths as well, especially if a student plans to work as a consultant in the field they major in.

Students can also consider choosing a major that is aligned with the industry you want to provide consulting services within.

Consider an MBA Program

Although not required as a consultant, completing an MBA will make you more attractive to higher paying positions at consulting firms. An MBA is also an opportunity to network with professionals in the field and gain additional knowledge on certain industries.

Additionally, if you are an entrepreneur or plan to start your own consulting business, earning an MBA will help increase your ethos and could broaden your clientele.

Look into Certifications

Certifications are not a requirement for success as a business consultant, but they can be beneficial. Consider these two certifications, but note that there are many types of certifications available.

The Project Management Professional (PMP) offered by the Project Management Institute can show prospective 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 required to influence a project team and the relationship between organizational strategy and a project.

The U.S. Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) offers the internationally recognized professional designation of Certified Management Consultant (CMC). This certification shows clients your competency of professional knowledge and a 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 couple of years gaining experience in the field.

How do I start a career in consulting?

You can start a career in consulting by earning a bachelor’s degree in business, social sciences or engineering. After earning your degree, you can pursue an MBA or enter the workforce to gain experience and knowledge within your industry. Alternatively, if you already have expertise in a particular field you can start and scale your own consulting business.

Which type of consultants make the most money?

Systems consultants and financial consultants make 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 firms, often have high salaries as well.