When an organization needs someone with specific expertise to solve a complex problem, they call in a management consultant. The consultant has skills and knowledge that he applies to that company's problem until the problem is solved. After a specific period of time, the consultant moves on to another opportunity.
Management consultants move from one organization to another to help the leadership of the organizations discover solutions to specific problems and implement changes to solve those problems. Consultants often work for a consulting company that hires them out to various organizations for defined lengths of time. Other consultants work on a freelance basis and find the work on their own. Each assignment may last from one week to one year.
Consultants develop a deep knowledge of a specific industry and travel from one company to the next within that industry to solve similar problems for each organization. For example, the Michigan Civil Service Commission has nutrition/food management consultants who "complete or oversee a variety of professional assignments to assist local school administrators, health care professionals, and community groups in developing or maintaining nutrition and food service programs, and in the development of policy pertaining to clinical nutrition."
Most management consultants have a master's degree in business administration or a related discipline, although some entry-level positions are open to people with a four-year bachelor's degree. Many people in these positions have experience working in the field or industry for which they are consulting.
Management consultants must have excellent written and verbal communication skills as well as public speaking skills. They must be excellent listeners who work well with a wide variety of people in various settings. They must understand complex problems, analyze the causes of those problems and create effective solutions.
Consultants work within the offices of the organization that hired them. This means that many consultants travel 80 to 100 percent of the time to offices in the United States and around the world. Be sure that you understand the travel commitment of a position before you accept it and that you are comfortable working in a variety of settings.
Salary and Job Outlook
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics groups its data on management consultants with various types of management analysts. In 2008, people who provided management, scientific and technical consulting services made an annual average of $81,670. This field is expected to grow approximately 24 percent by 2018, which is a much faster rate of growth than most occupations.
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