What is a Consultant?

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: November 8, 2021  •  8 min read  •  Business
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A consultant is simply someone that provides professional advice in a specific or a general area. Businesses often hire consultants to gain a fresh perspective on their current practices. If you’re curious about consulting, it’s important to understand what it is and how you can make it a career.

What is a Consultant

What Consultants Provide for Businesses

If you want to become a consultant, it’s good to understand what you will do for businesses. Consultants will help provide many different things for businesses. It’s a rather wide field, and not all consultants are the same.

There are a few things consultants provide for businesses. Depending on what type of consultant you become, you might provide advice, training, or coaching. Some consultants provide all three and even more.

Benefits of Becoming a Consultant

Flexible Types of Work

As a consultant, you will be able to enjoy flexible work. For example, you might work for one company for a week and another for a few months. Of course, it depends on the industry and the work you take on. However, you will have control over the work, making it rather flexible.

High Pay

Consultants can be some of the highest-paid people in any industry. They are often experts, making them very desirable for companies. You will likely get to set your rates, but many companies will pay for expert advice.

Plenty of Work

It’s an in-demand position in many industries. Consultants are needed, and companies are always looking to become more profitable. If you’re very good at what you do, you will have no problem finding work.

Incredible Networking

As a consultant, you will get to build a huge network of professionals. You work from company to company, which exposes you to many new professionals with each job.

Enjoyable Work

Most consultants will put their skills to good use and enjoy their work. No matter what industry you’re in, you likely have a specific set of skills if you’re a consultant. You can use those skills to help other businesses in the industry.

10 Common Types of Consultants

1. Management Consultant

A very common type of consultant, a management consultant, will work with issues related to leadership and management. Companies will hire this type of consultant to help develop better leaders.

If you choose to become a management consultant, you will likely provide training. Commonly, you will coach company leaders on management strategy, as well.

2. Retail Consultant

Those with expertise in retail can advise companies on their strategies. You can become a retail consultant for the travel industry, restaurants, luxury industries, apparel, grocery, or another area. There are many areas you can work in as a retail consultant.

When retail businesses find it difficult to make a profit, they will hire a consultant to optimize their business. This may include cost-cutting measures and marketing advice. If you enjoy a challenging consulting position that’s very fast-paced, this might be the option for you.

3. IT Consultant

A very popular type of consultant today is the IT consultant. This type of person works to advise a company on software engineering, software, and information technology. Since IT projects can be very risky, hiring a consultant can help to ensure the value is there.

Companies will use IT consultants to help ensure projects become successful. They will help with IT infrastructure and often with the software a company is developing or using.

4. SEO Consultant

As an SEO consultant, you will need to be an expert in search engine optimization. Your job is to advise your clients on how they can increase their ranking in the search results. In addition, you will help them create more effective marketing and gain more leads and sales.

If you enjoy working in the digital marketing space, becoming an SEO consultant might be perfect for you. This type of consultant usually has great analytical skills and excellent marketing skills.

5. Marketing Consultant

As a marketing consultant, you will provide expert advice on marketing. As a result, you will have a company develop a better marketing strategy and generate higher revenues. A marketing consultant is someone that will analyze a business’s current marketing to increase its effectiveness.

6. Construction Consultant

Those looking to consult in the construction industry will fit in well as construction consultants. This type of consultant may help construction companies with sales, operations, management, or marketing.

When a construction company faces a high-risk project or a complex issue, it might hire a consultant. This type of person will provide expertise to help the company make a better decision or run smoother.

You will need the right education and training to enter into construction consulting. Often, you need to have expertise in construction projects and leadership skills within the industry.

7. Public Relations Consultant

If you want to help companies with their public image, you can become a public relations consultant. This type of consultant will help companies organize big events, press conferences, and press releases. In addition, you will likely help with anything that can provide media attention for the company.

8. Sales Consultant

You will likely specialize in sales consulting if you’re known as a very good salesperson. As a sales consultant, you will provide advice on training, leadership, management, and more. Often, you will help companies struggling to reach their sales goals.

Sales consultants provide training and help to design the right sales teams for companies. It’s common for this position to include some management consulting, as well.

9. Business Process Consultant

Helping businesses set up their systems is known as business process consulting. You will provide the right processes to help companies grow and scale at the right pace. This type of consulting helps to provide organization to chaos.

If you enjoy helping business owners and you’re very detail-oriented, this might be the right type of consulting for you.

10. Strategy Consultant

As a strategy consultant, you will advise companies on higher-level decisions. You will help to provide expert advice on business planning, as well.

It’s common for this type of consultant to help a company reach its goals through proper planning. So if you love to make decisions and create plans, this might be the right type of consultant for you.

Frequently Asked Questions About Consultants

How much can I make as a consultant?

The pay for consultants varies quite a bit. Many consultants are self-employed, while some may work for larger companies. Depending on the type of consultant you become, you might make a salary anywhere from $70K to $150K per year or more.

The amount you make will depend on your area of expertise. For example, a senior IT consultant can earn around $112K per year, while a business consultant earns around $81K per year.

What is the job outlook for consulting?

Since consultants are found in many industries, it’s hard to generalize the job outlook. For example, human resource consultants are expected to grow by about 7% over the next ten years. However, management consultants are expected to see even faster growth.

Do I need a degree to become a consultant?

There are no true requirements to becoming a consultant. However, you will likely need to be an expert in your field. This may or may not require a degree. For example, you might not need a degree to become a construction consultant, but it may be required to become a medical research consultant.

Since many consultants work for themselves, there are no true hiring requirements. Instead, you just need to prove that you’re an expert, which may require a degree.

With or without a degree, you will need to have vast knowledge and years of experience in your field of expertise. Consultants are looked at as industry experts. If one of the credentials that gives you expert status is a degree, then you better have one.

Will I need to travel to work as a consultant?

Travel will likely be a big part of your job. If you work for a large company, you may go from one location to another. Those working for themselves will often need to travel to each company they take on as clients.

Depending on the consulting job you have, it could include quite a bit of travel.

Can I enter into a consulting internship program?

Yes. It’s common for larger consulting firms to offer internships for those in a bachelor’s or master’s degree program. This type of internship can help give you the hands-on experience you need to start as a consultant. Most internships will last a few months. It’s common for students to complete an internship over the summer months or part-time while going to school.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!