Business Consultant: Job Description and Career Requirements

Business consultants work in areas that include marketing, human resources, management, and accounting. Consultants help improve companies through assessing weaknesses and recommending solutions. Most business consultants hold a bachelor's degree, but job opportunities may be best for consultants with a master's degree.

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Job Description for a Business Consultant

Business consultants provide an analysis of the existing practices of a company and make recommendations for improvements. These professionals frequently specialize in one area of business management, such as human resources. For example, a hospital may hire a healthcare business consultant to help further develop its employee training programs or a distribution center may hire a logistics business consultant to streamline its shipping department.

Duties

Duties for business consultants generally begin with understanding what clients wish to improve or fix. This may include reviewing financial statements, evaluating competitors, and analyzing business practices. Once research is complete, business consultants may develop a new business model or prepare recommendations and present them to the client.

Requirements for Becoming a Business Consultant

Consultants typically need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in business management or business administration. Other business-related fields, such as marketing or accounting, may be appropriate for those entering this career. Courses in a business program may include accounting, management principles, financial modeling, business law, marketing,, and communications.

An advanced degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in consulting, may improve career possibilities and may result in higher starting salaries. Programs typically include courses in strategic management, consulting practices, and business development.

Certification

Employers may favor consultants who are certified. The Institute for Management Consultants (IMC U.S.A.) offers the Certified Management Consultant credential to consultants who pass a series of written and oral exams (www.imcusa.org). This certification lasts three years, and it may be renewed by completing academic courses or other requirements set by the IMC U.S.A.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

The Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes business consultants as one type of management analyst. The employment of management analysts is expected to increase by about 22% between 2010 and 2020, per the BLS. The Bureau reported the median annual salary among such analysts as $78,600 in May 2012, noting that those consultants working in petroleum and coal manufacturing, for scientific and technical service companies, and in relation to the pipeline transportation of crude oil earned the most per year, on average.

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