What is a Business Management Consultant?
Some people are born problem solvers. They love looking at issues from fresh perspectives, challenging old assumptions, and asking, “What if we did it this way?”
If that’s your mindset, a career as a business management consultant might be right for you.
Business management consultants help organizations improve performance and grow. Sometimes a simple strategy change is all that’s needed, and sometimes an extensive restructuring is required.
It’s a challenging and lucrative field. According to PayScale.com, the range is $54,688 to $141,488 a year, with a median of $86,040. Many business management consultants also are eligible for bonuses, profit sharing, and commissions that can push total compensation to $173,000.
Business consulting is a growing field as well. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts faster-than-average jobs growth through 2022 as more businesses look for ways to control costs and improve efficiency.
Analytical and problem solving skills are near the top of the list for business management consultants. Though consultants new to the profession often work in teams, particularly if they’re part of a large firm, veterans work largely without direct daily supervision which means organization and self-discipline are musts.
Outstanding people skills are essential, too. Often the fact that a consultant has been hired is enough to raise hackles at a company. Employees sometimes are resentful or even fearful. A consultant must build relationships and develop trust in order to overcome that.
Successful consulting also requires a mix of leading and following. Consultants must be confident enough in their abilities to stand firm in their recommendations, particularly when they’re making a presentation to senior company leaders with years or even decades of more experience.
At the same time, consultants often work as part of a team. Even consultants in solo practices need cooperation from employees at the company they’re consulting for, both in order to unearth the accurate information needed to complete the project and to ensure buy-in once the company begins implementing the recommendations.
What Education is Required?
A bachelor’s degree in a field such as business administration is the minimum education requirement for a consultant. Earning certification as a business consultant or project management professional also is helpful, though major organizations often require at least three years’ experience to even begin the process.
Frequently, those with bachelor’s degrees begin their careers as business analysts or associate consultants. They start at many companies as generalists, working on a small part of a bigger project.
Earning a master’s in business administration, particularly one with an emphasis on project management, can help consultants get ahead quickly. Some companies are frank about it: business analysts with master’s degrees usually are on the fast track for promotion.
Business management consulting is a hot profession now, and it’s expected to be for the next several years. The right combination of innate interests and skills learned through a solid education is the key to success in this lucrative profession.
Written by Ashford University staff