What Is It Like to Be a Management Consultant?

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When someone has experience overcoming an issue or possesses abundant knowledge on a certain topic, people go to them for guidance. When companies need help improving the efficiency of their operations and enhancing their profits, they lean on management consultants for that expert word of advice.

Here are the answers to your questions about the management consultant career path:

What does a management consultant do?

In a priceless support role, management consultants propose recommendations for improving organization efficiency, reducing costs and increasing revenue. To do so, they gather business and financial data through surveys, studies and evaluations. They may also interview employees and perform onsite observations to collect the information they need.

From there, management consultants use their data and expert insights to develop new systems, procedures or organizational changes. Management consultants are responsible for presenting these proposals to management, and then following up with managers to determine if their recommendations are in place and working effectively.

To be successful at these tasks, management consultants are proficient in the necessary technologies and software programs for database reporting and management, enterprise resource planning, program testing and management, and financial analysis. Other valuable qualities include:

  • Effective communication and collaboration with clients
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills for generating relevant insights
  • Effective time management and cool-under-pressure attitude when working with tight deadlines and complex demands

Along with management consultant, other job titles with descriptions that require these skills and responsibilities include management, business or program analyst and organizational development or solutions consultant.

Where do management consultants work?

The need for management consultants spans several industries, from tech to health care to finance and everything in between. Some consultants or firms specialize in one industry, while others serve more than one focus area. While management consultants and analysts often have a dedicated office space, they spend a significant amount of time traveling to client sites to perform proper evaluations.

Consultants either work for a management consulting firm or independently, hired directly by companies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the largest employers of management consultants include professional, scientific and technical companies, government organizations, and finance and insurance agencies. Plus, nearly 20 percent of management consultants are self-employed.

What is the salary potential?

Annual earnings depend on how management consultants are employed. Consulting firms often offer a base salary plus year-end bonuses. On the other hand, clients typically pay self-employed consultants hourly or project-based rates.

With that in mind, total annual pay can range from $59,000 to $167,000, according to PayScale. The BLS reported the 2018 median pay to be $83,610, with management consultants making an average of $40 per hour. Of course, the more years of experience on a management consultants’ resumes, the more they can expect to make. PayScale estimated that mid-level consultants with five to 10 years of experience can earn about $101,250 per year, while those who exceed the 20-year mark often secure salaries closer to $133,003.

To give you an idea of what you can earn as you fulfill various consulting positions throughout your career, PayScale reported average salaries, such as:

  • Consulting Analyst: $68,967
  • Management Consultant: $88,241
  • Business Process Consultant: $82,479
  • Project Manager: $86,008
  • Senior Management Consultant: $100,397
  • Consulting Manager: $122,412

Industry-specific skills can also increase income potential, with the Bureau reporting that analysts with scientific and technology consulting skills generally earn the highest salaries.

Is the job outlook promising?

Management consultant employment growth is expected to accelerate much faster than the national average for other occupations. According to the BLS, management consultant jobs should grow 14 percent from 2016 to 2026, adding about 115,200 roles to the over 806,000 that already exist.

The Bureau credited the growing demand for management consultants to organizations’ increasing desire to improve efficiency and control costs. Added to that, expert consulting can be key for helping companies maintain a stake in relevant markets and effectively outperform their competition. The data also suggested a high demand for management consultants in the health care and IT industries, as well as employment growth in small, specialist consulting firms.

While employment growth is fairly certain, the high earning potential may add significant competition to the management consultant job search. Graduate degrees, certifications, specialized knowledge, and solid references can strongly influence the chances of securing a consultant position.

How does one become an organizational efficiency expert?

If you want to become a successful management consultant, you’ll need to back up your expertise with relevant experience and education. That way, both employers and clients will trust you to provide effective and credible solutions. You’ll likely need at least five years of experience in consulting roles. If you want to specialize in a specific industry, your resume should also feature experience in that particular sector.

As far as education goes, a bachelor’s degree is a required minimum for the majority of management consultant positions. However, a high percentage of employers are looking for candidates with advanced degrees. With a flexible and engaging curriculum, the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business online Master of Business Administration program offers the advanced learning you need to excel in a management consultant position. As a valuable bonus, online learning allows you to continue working in the field as you pursue your degree.

Ready to sharpen those consultancy skills? Reach out to an advisor to learn more about the online MBA degree program at Maryland Smith.


Recommended Readings:

Is it Time to Get Your MBA? 3 Reasons to Do it Online

5 tips to finish your MBA as a working professional



Online Master of Business Administration by the University of Maryland

Management Analysts by ONET Online

Management Analysts by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Management Consultant Salary by PayScale

Average Salary for Management Consulting Industry by PayScale