How to Become a Management Consultant

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“Work smarter, not harder” is a popular saying in business. Business efficiency is crucial but difficult to achieve, requiring an understanding of how to balance productivity, performance quality, and worker satisfaction. To improve overall efficiency, many businesses turn to management consultants for answers.

Hiring a management consultant may be the missing link in turning a moderately successful business into a thriving one. As business experts and strategists, they have the advantage of approaching a business from the outside, making objective decisions to shape a company’s future. For those interested in business strategy and development, learning how to become a management consultant and establishing the right educational foundation can open doors to an exciting new career.

A smiling management consultant talks on the phone while using a laptop.

What Does a Management Consultant Do?

Management consultants are business professionals who advise organizations on how to optimize performance. By helping companies identify and solve complex business, organizational, and operational problems, consultants work to improve overall efficiency and put companies on a path to success. Through collaborative methods such as interviewing personnel, gathering and analyzing data to identify inefficiencies, and preparing strategies, consultants offer their clients recommendations on how to best handle challenges.

Becoming an effective management consultant requires remaining unbiased and thinking strategically about how to improve an organization’s outcomes. Through higher education and workplace experience, consultants can specialize in a certain area of business and provide functional expertise. With strong communication skills and a deep understanding of performance metrics, analysts can prepare and present recommendations to resolve inefficiencies.

Management Consultant Skills

Effective management consultants can not only analyze a company’s data to discover inefficiencies but also effectively communicate the information and necessary strategies to their clients. In an advanced degree program, consultants can build core competencies, including the following:

  • Communication: Suggested plans and procedures can’t be effective unless consultants communicate them clearly and effectively. Experienced consultants can collaborate with their clients and persuade them that their recommendations are sound.
  • Analytical and strategic thinking: Being able to analyze data is a key component to working as a consultant but does not function on its own. Success in the role relies on an individual’s ability to think strategically and formulate plans derived from data.
  • Leadership experience: Management consultants are effective stepping into situations as leaders and authority figures. Having strong leadership skills allows them to quickly gain the respect of those they are directing and encourage teamwork.
  • Technical competence: By pursuing an advanced degree, management consultants can specialize in specific areas of business and build the technical skills, procedural knowledge, and analytical competency to gain a thorough understanding of a company’s current situation and forecast trends or likely outcomes.

Path to Become a Management Consultant

Becoming a management consultant involves both higher education and workplace experience. Completing a bachelor’s degree is generally a minimum requirement to enter the field at the assistant or associate level. While a bachelor’s and work experience may be sufficient to progress in the consulting field, most upper-level partners and executives also have a graduate degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Pursuing an advanced degree allows candidates to specialize in different areas of business, developing the knowledge, strategies, and relevant experience that become the basis for their recommendations to clients. By focusing on a certain area, such as management analysis, finance, computer systems, or trend forecasting, graduates can build valuable skills that allow them to develop relationships with clients and gain the experience to take on leadership roles in a company.

Education and Experience

The level of education and experience needed to become a management consultant often varies by each individual’s professional goals. As consultants climb the corporate ladder, the amount of travel, regularity of schedule, and responsibilities can change significantly. For some firms, the path to leadership is as follows:

  • Entry-level consultants often are recent graduates who have just completed a bachelor’s degree and have little work experience.
  • Management consultants have gained experience in their field and have enough expertise to work with more autonomy. Depending on the firm or type of consulting, they may do more traveling.
  • Upper-level consultants are experienced consultants or project leaders. To become a project leader of a firm, many senior consultants pursue a graduate degree such as an MBA or have the equivalent additional years of workplace experience.
  • Partner or principal consultants act as the heads of consulting firms or direct their own firms. They normally have a graduate degree and several years of relevant consulting experience.

Management Consultant Salary and Job Outlook

Various factors influence management consultants’ salaries, including education level, work experience, and the type of firm or job location. Most consultants have at minimum a bachelor’s degree, with the likelihood of advancing to a senior-level role increasing once they have completed a graduate program and gained several years’ experience. According to PayScale, the median base salary for management consultants was approximately $89,000 per year as of August 2021, prior to bonuses or other incentives.

The job outlook is promising for those interested in pursuing an advanced degree in business, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the employment of management analysts to grow 11% between 2019 and 2029 — much higher than the average projected growth for all occupations (4%).

Make a Big Impact in Business

With the knowledge, skills, and experience to make a positive impact in the future of business, management consultants can be a vital component of an organization’s growth strategies and help companies and their employees reach their goals. With a fully online program, a passionate faculty, and six start times per year, Maryville University’s online Master of Business Administration was created to help you succeed.

By gaining an advanced education, you can develop real-world skills that you can use in real time, tackling a broad variety of exciting new challenges. Discover the difference you can make by pursuing a fulfilling career as a management consultant today.

Recommended Reading

How to Become an Executive

How to Get an MBA: Resources & Tips

Versatile Management Development: Executive MBA vs. MBA

Sources

Business News Daily, “What Is a Business Consultant?”

Entrepreneur, “What’s More Important for Your Business, Productivity or Efficiency?”

Forbes, “This Is What It Takes to Become a Successful Management Consultant”

IBISWorld, Management Consulting Industry in the US — Market Research Report

The Muse, “This Is What Being a Management Consultant Actually Means”

PayScale, Average Management Consultant Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Management Analysts