Find the answers to the top 4 questions you have about management consulting before going into the field. Discover what it is that management consultants do.
Management consulting is a popular career choice, especially for Masters of Business Administration (MBA) graduates, where it remains the highest-paid position post-graduation. With the attraction of high salaries, travel, a fast-paced environment, and the opportunity to land a prestigious management consulting role with any of the Big 3, its appeal is understandable.
If you're considering a career in management consultancy, consider understanding what the role involves, what you do on a day-to-day basis, the benefits of working in the field—and how exactly to get there.
Management consulting is working with businesses to identify solutions to problems to maximize business performance, improve business processes, and increase revenue.
A management consultant can cover a range of areas including business management, marketing, business strategy, supply chain, and employee productivity. They generally work with the senior levels of an organization and may focus on a specific industry or work across the board.
As a management consultant, you work with domestic or international clients either for a management consultancy firm (a popular choice) or as an independent consultant.
The work of a management consultant is to solve business problems. Specific tasks vary because of the different organizations and projects—and the issues you need to solve within each business. While the details vary, certain work areas apply to all management consultants and require a specific skill set.
No matter what you specialize in or the type of business you work in, management consultants typically focus on three main areas. Your work may fall under one or more of these:
1. Expertise and specialties: Management consultants offer their expertise to businesses in several domains. These may be general or very specialized and include:
Mergers and acquisitions
2. Analysis: Management consultants perform in-depth analysis and research relating to the areas they are working on within an organization. You'll need to remain objective and unbiased to provide a clear perspective of the problems that need solving.
3. Project management: Management consultants are hands-on when it comes to implementing the solutions they identify. You'll work with teams to deliver and monitor solutions, working directly with senior management.
Read more: 11 Key Project Management Skills
A management consultant's responsibilities vary according to the company you work with, any specialty you work under, and the project itself, but in general, common tasks and duties will include:
Understanding a business’ challenges and needs by consulting with senior management and staff
Finding a solution that aligns with a business’ processes, culture, and goals
Reviewing company data, policies, and financials to build a bigger picture
Building a work road map, including schedules and targets
Communicating with senior management to update on the project, completion of milestones, and any changes
Communicating with employees at all levels to successfully implement changes and get buy-in from those who will be affected
Conducting staff training on new systems, processes, and technology
Listening to any employee concerns and feedback to ensure any changes are accepted and to ensure they are achievable
Monitoring outcomes to ensure successful project outcomes
The essential skills needed to become a management consultant are effectively honed through an MBA course or similar, as well as through experience. To be a successful management consultant, you should possess the following skills:
Analytical and research skills
Working under pressure
Teamwork and collaboration
Interpersonal and communications skills
Translating complex information
The management consulting profession boasts high salaries, an excellent career outlook, an exciting workload, and numerous opportunities for career advancement. The number of reasons explain why this career appeals to so many people.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a management consultant is $93,000, with the highest 10 percent in the profession earning over $163,760 . Often, management consultants working for a consulting company receive an annual salary as well as bonuses.
The job outlook for a management consultant is excellent, with employment expected to grow by 11 percent between 2021 and 2031, creating approximately 101,900 positions . This rate is above the average for any profession. Positions in small consultancies and those specializing in technology will likely see the most growth.
Management consultants have frequent opportunities for development and career growth. More experienced management consultants may take on more senior positions, which involve management teams, working on more complex projects, and even bringing in new business to the company.
Career progression is possible up to the partner level for those management consultants that are exceptionally skilled. Many management consultants move into other business management positions, using skills they have gained as a consultant.
Working in management consultancy is exciting, varied, and fast-paced. Those who thrive on tight deadlines and a high-pressure environment do well as management consultants. Hours can be long, and positions are competitive. However, the perks are well known, with travel, bonuses, company cars, gym membership, and the opportunity to work with senior-level clients of large multinationals, which are a big draw.
Management consultant positions are in high demand, and competition can be fierce. Most people who enter the profession start at the entry level and work up, but even this requires a high level of education, experience, and skills. Top consulting firms, such as the Big 3, typically only invite 10 percent of applicants to interview .
The majority of management consultants work for a consulting firm. Consulting firms vary in size and specialism and can typically be broken down into; the Big 3 (Bain, McKinsey, and Boston Consulting Group); Tier 2 (Accenture, Kearney, Oliver Wyman, L.E.K.); the Big 4 (PwC, Diolotte, EY, and KPMG); smaller boutique firms, which handle a number of smaller or specialized projects, and lastly, independent consultants who are self-employed.
To become a management consultant the minumum education requirement is a bachelor’s degree. According to Zippia, 67 percent of management consultants hold a bachelor’s degree and 22 percent have a master’s degree . Typically, people with an MBA or a master’s degree in a relevant field are at an advantage. It’s also beneficial to have a degree in a relevant subject area. Many consulting firms hire candidates straight out of college. Therefore, it’s worthwhile to see if the college and course you are considering has any relationship with firms that interest you.
Experience can be an excellent way to set yourself apart from your competition. The higher the position level you’re applying for, the more experience you will need to have accrued. If you’re a recent graduate, it may be beneficial to have an internship in a business-related field. Any experience demonstrating your commercial awareness, leadership, and communication skills will help. Employers may also provide on-the-job training.
You might consider studying for a relevant certification to really set yourself apart from other applicants for management consultant roles. It can verify your credentials and upgrade your skills and knowledge.
Certified Management Consultant (CMC)
Certified Manager Certification (CM)
Talent Optimization Consultant Certification
Read more: What Is Management Consulting?
Management consulting is a competitive career choice with excellent career prospects, high salaries, development opportunities, and challenging, exciting work specifications. To get started in your career as a management consultant, you can check out some of the courses listed on Coursera, including this Foundations of Project Management course by Google.
This course is the first in a series of six to equip you with the skills you need to apply to introductory-level roles in project management. Project ...
946,763 already enrolled
Average time: 1 month(s)
Learn at your own pace
Skills you'll build:
Organizational Culture, Career Development, Strategic Thinking, Change Management, Project Management
1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Management Analysts, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm#tab-5." Accessed September 26, 2022.
2. Management Consulted. “Bain Recruiting: 8 Insider Secrets, https://managementconsulted.com/bain-recruiting-consulting-jobs/." Accessed September 26, 2022.
3. Zippia. “Management Consultant Education Requirements, https://www.zippia.com/management-consultant-jobs/education/." Accsssed September 26, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.