Consultant is one of the most popular words in today’s market. With an expansion in the job market and emergence of new roles, the need for consultants have increased. And not only this but now we can find consultant job roles have captured almost every sphere of a business ecosystem.
A consultant is a professional who provides expert advice in a particular area such as business, education, law, regulatory compliance, human resources, marketing and public relations, finance, healthcare, engineering, science, security (electronic or physical), or any of many other specialized fields.
Generally, consultants are categorized as-
- Internal Consultants- someone who operates within an organization but is available to be consulted on areas of their specialization by other departments or individuals, acting as clients
- External Consultants- someone who is employed externally to the client (either by a consulting firm or some other agency) whose expertise is provided on a temporary basis, usually for a fee. This type of consultant generally engages with multiple and changing clients, which are typically companies, non-profit organizations, or governments.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an increase of 14 percent in employment for management consultants from 2014 to 2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations.The Bureau of Labor Statistics
Today we have consultants in almost every field. Mentioned below are some of the most common types of consultants hired by companies-
- Business Transformation Consultants
- Engineering Consultants
- Human Resources Consultants
- IT Consultants
- Marketing Consultants
- PR Consultants
- Property Consultants
- Sales Consultants
- Strategy Consultants
Even though the list isn’t exhaustive, you get the rough idea about the agility and adaptability of this job.
How to Become a Consultant
While there is no graduation degree in consulting, a course in your chosen field be it Psychology or Engineering is the first step towards becoming a consultant. As seen from above that consultants are a part of almost every field, students have the freedom to choose whatever they like for their bachelors.
One of the most important criteria when a company hires a professional as a consultant is his/her experience in the field. Experience can show a potential employer how successful a consultant has been at improving businesses with similar issues. Most employers prefer a minimum of two years of consulting experience. Along with experience in consulting, many employers want consultants to have experience working in a management, accounting or another business position. Some consultants may begin their careers at a firm before bidding on consulting projects on their own.
Although employers do not always require a master’s degree, many prefer a consultant who holds a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or a similar field like accounting, finance or management. Coursework in a master’s degree program can aid students in sharpening their skills in communication, economics, leadership and management and the knowledge and skills learned may even help to advance their career.
Students can also opt for an integrated Bachelors and Master’s degree too.
Although there are many contrasting views on how far a certification course may help, having a few on your CV definitely sparks the interest of a recruiter. It can show employers that a consultant meets the certifying agency’s standards in education, training and experience. Given below is a list of certifications that a budding consultant can think about-
Certified Management Consultant (CMC)
Offered by Institute of Management Consultants USA (IMC USA), is an international professional certification established in 1967 for management consulting professionals, awarded by institutes in 50 countries. “CMC” after your name communicates that you’re a seriously accomplished consultant. There are three levels to this exam- Basic, Advanced & Management- based on the years of experience of the consultant. Candidates for CMC certification must fulfill several requirements, including three years in practice as a full-time consultant, a degree from a four-year college, and the completion of exhaustive written and oral examinations.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
This course is offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). CIO magazine ranked the PMP as the top project management certification because it proves you have the specific skills and experience employers seek. Earning a Project Management Professional certification can be a huge career booster. The industries with the greatest need will be healthcare, manufacturing, construction, publishing, information services, and professional services, as well as finance and insurance. To get a PMP certification, one needs a bachelors and at least 5 years of experience.
The above mentioned two courses are not for a particular filed but common for consultants across streams. Apart from the certifications mentioned above, a consultant can do certifications in their chosen field like Analytics or Business. Listed below are few of the upbeat and latest courses niche in their disciplines –
- Programming Certifications–
- SAS Certified Base Programmer for SAS 9
- Learning Tree International Certifications in Cloud Computing, Java Programming, Cyber Security etc
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer Certifications for App Builder, Cloud & Platform Infrastructure etc.
- Communications Certifications-
- SCMP by International Association of Business Communicators
- Marketing Certifications-
- Courses offered by American Marketing Association
- IT Certifications-
- Certified Ethical Hacker
- SANS GIAC Security Essentials
The possibilities for a consultant are endless and hence, so are the courses available to upgrade oneself according to changing market trends. Although certifications add value to your CV, they can only do so much. At last its all about the experience and knowledge that would propel your career forward.