Understanding Consulting as a Career: Types and Benefits

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 23 January 2023

Published 4 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Consulting as a career can be rewarding if you have the right skills and experience. You might help a company solve an operational problem or streamline processes to drive efficiency and profitability. Learning about consulting and its benefits can help you determine whether it's the right path for you. In this article, we explain what a career in consulting entails, list five types of consultants, provide the benefits of consulting work and show how to pursue a consulting career.

What is consulting as a career?

A career in consulting is a type of work where you assist clients to improve the efficiency of their business model. You can do this by developing and implementing profitable targets, optimising business processes and developing strategies. Consulting as a career might also involve transforming primary and secondary functions. For example, you can boost customer service experience or improve logistical efficiency. You may use various forms of technology to execute new strategies.

Related: What Is Strategy Consulting? (Definition and Why It Matters)

Types of consultants

Consultants work in various industries. Companies usually hire them to bridge a skill gap, advise management or improve internal processes. Here are five common types of consultants:

Operations consultants

Whenever companies face operational challenges, they often hire operation consultants to provide specific solutions. These consultants help streamline client operations by advising on and supporting changes to functional processes and operating models. Most of their work revolves around optimising the customer's user experience by improving systems that deliver a company's products or services.

Related: What Is a Management Consultant? The Ultimate Guide

Strategy consultants

Companies often turn to strategic consultants whenever they need advice in developing long-term visions or help to allocate resources. These consultants have comprehensive market experience. They use market research and data analysis to create strategic solutions.

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  • What Do Digital Consultants Do? (With Job Responsibilities)

Financial consultants

A financial consultant can provide guidance to companies that want to improve their cash flow, manage outgoings or seize new investment opportunities. These professionals might perform an audit of the current fiscal situation, then create a plan to help the company reach its economic goals. Like financial advisors, these consultants seek to improve the financial well-being of companies.

Human resources consultants

HR consultants often assist small organisations or startup companies without an HR department. Most of their work entails creating procedures and policies for the company's small workforce. They can also assist with training and professional development, benefits and pensions and employee engagement.

Related: What Does a Recruitment Consultant Do? (With Career Path)

Risk and compliance consultants

Risk consultants are experts in legal regulations and organisational management. They help companies identify gaps in compliance and develop solutions to corporate risks. In addition, they might train employees about compliance. They may also complete paperwork or reports for regulatory agencies.

Related: What Is an IT Consultant? (With Skills and Qualifications)

How to pursue a career in consulting

The following steps can guide you on how to pursue consulting as a career:

1. Determine your niche

Start by identifying a specific matter you can resolve and what type of business might benefit from your help. Narrowing down your speciality makes it easier for you to pursue the ideal clients. It also reduces the time to become an expert in a specific area rather than learning a more extensive curriculum.

2. Create a strong value proposition

Once you identify your niche, it's time to recognise the value you can bring to a business. You can do this by defining the matter you intend to solve and determining the best solution for it. A good value proposition is usually clear and memorable. For example, I help business to business (B2B) companies generate sales by training them on effective lead generation strategies.

3. Build your network

Building a solid network can help you expand your services and reach new clients. You can attend industry events and connect with like-minded people. Inform your connections about the consulting service you can provide and that you're seeking new opportunities. Try to network with professionals in the field where you operate. For example, financial consultants might speak with entrepreneurs looking to open a new business.

4. Set your fees

Once you establish a strong network, it's time to decide on the fees to charge your first clients. You can determine whether you would prefer to bill clients per hour, day or project. Factors like your level of experience and area of expertise might influence the amount you charge. For instance, if you have over a decade of consulting experience and proven results from previous projects, you can charge higher consulting fees.

5. Create a marketing strategy

Consultants with strong networks and industry reputations rely on word-of-mouth marketing to organically obtain new business. Also, you might use digital or print advertising to raise awareness of your service. Consider applying your marketing tools to the platform where your target market operates regularly. You can use niche blogs, websites or social media platforms to reach your ideal clients.

Related: How to Become a Consultant in Six Steps

Benefits of consulting

A career in consulting may have many benefits. Here are some of them:

  • Continuous learning: Consultants have the opportunity to learn about the latest trends, which enables them to provide their clients with relevant solutions and fresh ideas.

  • Rapid growth: Compared to jobs with fixed routines, consultants can advance quickly in their careers if they're exceptional at what they do. Confidence in your skill set and service can help you grow quickly.

  • New experiences: Another benefit of a consulting career is that you can explore different industries and specialities in various geographic locations. You can try multiple roles and work cultures until you find an arrangement that works best for you.

  • Travel: Consulting work often involves travelling. You might have the opportunity to travel internationally to meet clients.

  • Good compensation: As a consultant, you also have a good earning potential. You can have more control over your income by deciding your independent rates.

Related: What Is the Gig Economy? (With Benefits and Career Tips)

Consultant salary

The average salary of a consultant is $79,513 per year. Salary figures may vary depending on their location, employer and qualifications. Senior consultants in private consulting firms usually earn more than mid or junior associates. Some consultants also earn bonuses besides their monthly salaries.

Related: How to Become a Consulting Project Manager (With FAQs)

Top consulting skills

Whether working for top consulting companies or as an associate at a private firm, consultants usually use a combination of skills to perform their duties. The following skills can help you advance in your career:

  • Commercial awareness: Consultants work in various sectors and industries. Understanding the fundamentals of a business, competitors, value propositions, challenges and how the industry operates helps a consultant find solutions to specific challenges.

  • Natural communicator: Whether written or spoken, communication is central to the work of a consultant. Good communication skills help a consultant share their new ideas, discuss matters with clients and present solutions.

  • Organisation: Consultants often handle tasks with competing priorities. Using their time management and effective organisation skills, they can prioritise workloads.

  • Analytical and creative: Consultants evaluate a matter objectively and recommend a solution to the management. They use their analytical and problem-solving skills to look for creative and practical solutions to problems.

  • Collaboration: Consultants usually work with people at different levels, from the junior staff at the department to senior company executives. Being polite, friendly and helpful ensures the consultant encourages everyone to carry out their plan.

Related: What Is a Business Consultant? (With Steps to Become One)

Frequently asked questions on consulting careers

Below are answers to some questions concerning consultants and their work.

Is it difficult to become a consultant?

Consulting is a popular career path for students with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Lots of hardworking people compete for prestigious consulting roles, which typically makes consultant jobs competitive. A career in consultancy could take several years to master. Patience and dedication can help you become a successful consultant.

Do consultants make good money?

Careers in consulting can have a high earning potential. Consultants typically earn hourly pay that is similar to other mid-level jobs. Companies might adjust your income to reflect the number of hours spent at work. The consultant's niche also determines their payout. Specialist consultants could earn more than their counterparts doing general consulting work.

Is consulting a good career?

Different people have different perceptions of consultant careers. If you're a strong problem-solver with specific subject matter expertise, enjoy advising or communicating with people and are comfortable making high-stakes decisions, a career in consulting may be right for you.

A consulting career could also provide opportunities to work in various industries. Also, you can choose the type of projects that appeal to you and your client base. Weighing the costs and benefits of consulting can help you determine if it's the right career path for you.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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