Whether you’re looking to start your own business as a consultant, or you’re interested in working with aconsulting company, you need to understand well the field before you start. Learning how to become a consultant requires educating yourself on our industry business side, as well as customer service aspects and sales aspects.
In this article, we discuss all the duties of an independent consultant, the different steps to becoming a consultant, and some answers to frequently asked questions.
What does a consultant do?
Consultants should examine the organization and focus on specific areas for improvement to help the company to be more competitive or profitable.
They usually come for a specific mission to help the organization reduce costs, increase efficiency and increase the different revenue by recommending changes in specific aspects of the company’s operations, such as electronic systems, human resources, or even workflow.
Consultants may work with different clients or they may specialize in a specific field. Their duties include:
- Preparing the projects by reviewing all documents, reading all reports, interviewing the employees, and observing daily procedures and processes.
- Putting timelines and a plan for the project, involving schedules, outcome measures, and different goals.
- Preparing the final product to deliver to the client when work is complete
- Communicating with the client’s management employees and team in writing and verbally
- Assisting clients with implementing recommendations
- Following up with clients periodically to see how the new processes are working
How to become an independent consultant: 3 steps to credibility
First, you need to know that there is no standard consultant job description, and the requirements needed to become a consultant vary by industry. Generally, you need a combination of education and experience that represents you as an authority in the different client’s industry. So, here are some steps to help you succeed in your career as a credible consultant:
- Complete your undergraduate degree.
- Have practical knowledge through your work experience.
- Build a strong network.
1. Complete your undergraduate degree
Entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree in most industries. Consultants usually hold degrees in business economics, finance, or administration even degrees in computer science, marketing and psychology are very common as well among business independent consultants. To work in a specific industry, consider a minor in that field in addition to a business degree. For instance, to work as an independent consultant in a technology field, a minor in computer science can be needed.
2. Earn practical knowledge through work experience
To work as an independent consultant in a specialized field, you have to consider employment in that industry for a few years to build the necessary experience. Knowledge of how the different companies operate in the industry can make you more interesting or let’s say even attractive to potential employers.
You have to consider joining Association for Professional Consultants, to learn more about how to become an independent consultant. Most associations provide valuable learning opportunities and offer an interesting student membership at a reduced rate.
3. Build a strong network
It’s very important to start building a strong network in any industry, but especially in consultancy, where your final client base generally comes from direct contacts. Also, it can be beneficial to connect with other business consultants so you can have a network to reach out to with different questions about how to run a consulting company from the services you provide to pricing policy and how to solve a problem with a customer.
We invite you to discover our top 5 ways to market your consulting services where you can find the good technics, that consultants favor in getting their business name spread among their potential clients:
FAQs about being an independant consultant
Here are some answers to the most common questions about how to become an independent consultant:
Do consultants travel to other countries to work?
A consulting company does conduct business in more than one country, so you could be assigned to international projects. Firms like Pentabell send their senior consultants to do this work in different filed such as Gaz & Oil, Energy, Telecom, Transport, or anything else you master. So, if you choose to work for yourself as an independent consultant, you are free to seek international clients.
Does my grade point average in my undergraduate and graduate work matter if I am applying to work for a consulting company?
Generally, firms do not consider your grade point average as a deciding factor in whether or not to hire you. Consulting organizations are seeking for a strong combination of work, academics, experience, and interpersonal skills. So let’s say if you have all of those things, a low GPA probably won’t keep you from getting the job.
How can I find a job as an independent consultant?
Many consulting companies use recruiters to locate potential employees to fill their opening position. Making contact with a recruiter may help you land a job interview, so you have to know that attending networking events should take an important part of your job search to find your dream mission.
A consulting company often evaluates applicants using a “case interview,” in which interviewees are given a specific case study of a business problem and asked to make a strategy to solve that problem. Since case interviews can be really stressful, prospective consultants often spend a lot of time practicing them before applying for any job.