Consultants play an important role in the solving of modern business problems. They must use a wide variety of skills, such as problem-solving and interpersonal communication, in order to work effectively with their clients. The problems they face can involve everything from starting a new business, merging with another company, increasing productivity, or implementing new technology. Consulting has become a competitive, lucrative, and highly sought-after industry. Here is our guide to some of the jobs in the industry to help as you navigate the application process.
Do you need an MBA to work as a consultant?
The short answer is no, you do not need an MBA to work in consulting. Many entry-level consultants will enter a firm with only a bachelor’s degree, usually in finance, marketing, operations, or another business field.
Without an MBA, individuals can still succeed by developing their skills and portfolio to prove their track record to prospective clients. However, a career in consulting, especially in the early stages, does not pay its employees with bachelor's degrees the same as those with advanced degrees. Over time, while it’s possible to rise through the hierarchy and earn a competitive salary, it is often an easier and faster process for those with an MBA.
As mentioned, those with an MBA will likely learn more than those without it. Studies have shown that business school graduates earn an average of 140% more than those who only have an undergraduate degree. With an MBA, it is easier to transfer niches, prove credibility, build your network, and have applicable insight to a wider range of projects.
One way to increase earnings, regardless of whether an individual holds an MBA or not, is to specialize in a certain niche. This will allow them to gain expertise and credibility in a certain field or industry. An MBA is often less applicable in this scenario because it teaches general business skills and not very industry-specific skills.
Here is a list of the common types of consultants and their average salaries:
1. Marketing Consultant
Average Salary: $56,068 per year
Marketing consultants drive a target audience to their client’s business. In doing so, they help with conversion rates and monitor other business metrics. They analyze how potential customers become buyers and advise clients on which marketing channels are the best mediums for client communication, lead tracking, and customer retention.
2. Associate Consultant
Average Salary: $58,889/year
Associate consultants work under a chief consultant and lead different projects. They are usually involved in the drafting of legal documents and provide training for clients, fellow consultants, and researchers.
3. HR Consultant
Average Salary: $63,540/year
As the name implies, HR consultants advise clients on their human resources policies, which can include benefits administration, employee training, goal setting, new employee onboarding, and company communication. HR consultants also ensure that their clients are updated on compliance procedures.
4. Technology Consultant
Average Salary: $64,898/year
Technology consultants help their clients use technology to optimize performance. While the kind of technology varies widely depending on the industry, they typically advise on the different options available, set up and maintain frameworks, and integrate any required software and hardware.
5. Investment Consultant
Average Salary: $65,666/year
Investment consultants advise clients on which assets, funds, and/or countries to invest their money in. Their clients can include asset owners, fund managers, and trustees, among others, and investment consultants usually remain in relationships with these clients over an extended period of time. They typically have experience in various positions within the financial sector, such as in investment banks and private equity firms.
6. Sales Consultant
Average Salary: $66,862/year
Consulting in the sales industry involves helping clients sell their products in order to generate revenue. Because of this, sales consultants must be very familiar with the product and in communication with other areas of the company. Depending on the product, some sales consultants must also train customers in the product’s usage.
7. Environmental Consultant
Average Salary: $67,572/year
Environmental consultants make targeted predictions on the impacts that business decisions will have on the environment using both field and desk-based research. They also run analyses on current business practices to see if they meet the environmental standards set up by the state and the federal government. Some work for the government and nonprofit organizations in order to promote sustainable business procedures.
8. Software Consultant
Average Salary: $71,395/year
Software consultants offer advice on software systems to their clients. Most of these individuals have a background in information technology or computer science. As more companies than ever are operating in the digital technology and online world, software consultants are becoming increasingly in demand. Their job may involve setting up software systems, monitoring current systems, updating websites, customizing systems, and analyzing the efficiency of current systems, among other tasks.
9. Business Consultant
Average Salary: $71,853/year
Consultants in the business sphere work to improve a company’s business operations, from small adjustments to large-scale transformations, in order to improve growth and increase revenue. These individuals must have a wide array of knowledge and skills in many different areas of the field.
10. Security Consultant
Average Salary: $80,652/year
Consultants who work with issues of security are responsible for assessing potential risks and working with their clients to implement effective solutions. These consultants may work with matters of physical or technological security. Their job can involve installing physical security apparatuses, such as cameras, analyzing the physical security of a building, training on proper hiring procedures, assessing IT systems and computer infrastructures, and advising on issues of terrorism, among others.
11. Management Consultant
Average Salary: $84,642/year
Management consultants work to improve the effectiveness of an organization’s processes by using industry data and research to solve problems. They often work with matters of workflows, employee performances, and finance allocation, though their responsibilities will vary drastically depending on the industry and project.
12. Financial Consultant
Average Salary: $88,497/year
Unlike management consultants who can work with a wide variety of business practices, financial consultants are tasked with improving the financial performance of a business. They work closely with accountants to analyze the current financial state of affairs and with stakeholders. Together, they will brainstorm and implement solutions to improve the overall finances of the company.
13. Systems Consultant
Average Salary: $93,956/year
This kind of consulting works almost exclusively with IT functionality. Consultants in this field advise on the design and implementation of IT systems for their clients. For those with existing systems, this will involve an analysis of the current efficacy and functionality; for those without systems set up, the consultant will determine what the company requires, and work to design and install the new software. Systems consultants will also establish any test scripts needed to test the system.
14. Senior Consultant
Average Salary: $98,468/year
Senior consultants are not in a specific field but rather exist within different industries at the top of their respective hierarchies. In general, senior consultants work to improve their clients’ revenue streams and decrease costs. These are individuals who have had years of experience consulting in their field and as such, are tasked with more responsibilities and typically run their own teams.
This article provides an overview of some of the different positions in the field of consulting; however, there are many others that are not listed here. Consulting has become a very competitive industry because of the wide variety of projects that are worked on, the relatively high levels of autonomy, and the high levels of compensation. Here are several other articles to get you started on your journey to consulting:
- Best 30 Free Resources to Get Into Management Consulting
- An Expert’s Guide to Resumes: Five Tips to Make You Stand Out
- What is Management Consulting?
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