Consultants gives advice to help businesses run better. It's a great path for problem solvers with loads of ideas
What consultancy jobs can I do?
All kinds of businesses need a helping hand at times, so consultants work for a whole range of organisations including charities, small companies and big international firms. You can become a consultant whatever your area of expertise, from fashion to politics:
- Management consultants: Advise businesses on ways to improve how they are run. Consultants take a close look at company accounts and records to piece together what might be going wrong and what can be done to help save a company.
- IT consultants: Specialise in advising businesses on what kind of computing and technology they need to work effectively. Check out this interview with a cyber security consultant.
- Recruitment consultants: Work on behalf of individuals or companies to track down the best person for a job.
- Environmental consultants: Look at an area’s environment, including air quality, water pollution and contamination, and advise on how to improve or avoid problems if you are using or developing the area.
- Creative consultants: Work with companies to help them design new products and programmes, develop ideas or build snazzy presentations to help them win contracts.
As a consultant, you can either work for a consultancy firm or set yourself up independently as a freelancer. Consultants often need to be based in the client’s office, which can be for a few days or a few months, so there are plenty of chances to travel.
What is consultancy work?
In a nutshell, a consultant is an expert in a particular field or area of business that gives advice to a company. They work with different organisations (called clients) to help them make more money and be more efficient.
They are independent professionals hired by businesses to assess the way they are run and come up with plans to improve a project, make them more successful or rescue them when things are going wrong.
Consultants have a strong understanding of how businesses work and are good at spotting mistakes and opportunities to make changes.
If you hire a consultant for your business, they might advise you to shift around jobs, improve the way you keep your records, cut costs to save money, or change your long-term plans.
Is a career in consultancy for me?
If you’re a problem solver and can spot a mistake before someone makes it, you’re thinking along the lines of a consultant.
It’s a good job for people who enjoy their independence and are happy to move from place to place, working on different projects.
You should enjoy listening to people and giving advice, but you will also need to make tough decisions, which might sometimes mean cutting jobs, so you’ll need to be rational and keep a clear head under pressure too.
You’ll have to research things carefully and pay attention to detail.
If you work as a management consultant you’ll also need a head for numbers, to check through company finances.
How can I start a consultancy career?
Aim for at least five GCSES at grade 9-4, including English and maths.
Take maths or a business subject with your A-levels, like Business Studies or Economics. You could also study for an NVQ in Business and Administration or Business Improvement Techniques.
Lots of consultancy firms run graduate schemes and, to qualify, they often ask for a 2:1 degree. This can be in any subject, but analytical subjects like maths, business, sciences or law will give you a head start.
There are also intermediate and advanced apprenticeships available in areas like management consultancy or IT, which can lead to BTEC qualifications and a step towards IT consultancy.
Many people become consultants after having a career in another field, so it’s never too late to make a change, and your work experience will be a big bonus.
What consultancy qualifications are available?
If you work with a consulting firm, you’ll often get the chance to take short courses and professional qualifications on the job through the Institute of Consulting (IC).
Qualifications include certified management consultant and chartered business strategist. You’ll normally need a few years experience to apply.
Some employers will also support you to take a post-grad master's in business (MBA).
If you're planning to study management consultancy at university, you might want to check out our list of universities to help decide which one would be best for you.
Did you know these consultancy facts?
Former MP Archie Norman started life as a management consultant. He became the chief executive of ASDA when it was close to bankruptcy in the 1990s and turned the business around before it was sold to Walmart for nearly £7 billion in 1999.
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