The article below provides information about a career in management consulting. YOu will learn what management consultants do, where they work, job duties, how to become one, career paths, and more.
What We Do
Management consultants are responsible for proposing effective and innovative ways to improve the efficiency of companies, make them more profitable and reduce their costs. Generally, companies contract with management consultants to help them to develop effective strategies to either enter or to stay competitive in the global marketplace.
Management consultants may work for the company that they are analyzing. Or, they may work as management consultants on a contract. A few management consultants are self-employed. A common way to get going in this field is to work for a major consulting company for several years. Then, you may have the expertise and the contacts to work on your own.
Whether they work for a company or themselves, a management consultant’s work may vary somewhat per project. Some large projects will require the services of a team of consultants, with each one a specialist in one area. Other projects could have individual consultants working with individual managers. On a few small projects, there may be a single management consultant, although this is more uncommon today.
Many management consultants have expertise in a certain field, such as managing inventory, acquisitions and mergers, or the reorganization of corporate structures to eliminate unneeded jobs. Other consultants will specialize in one industry, such as information technology or healthcare. In the government sector, most consultants specialize in a certain agency.
Most management consultants do the following whether they work on their own or for a company:
- Gather information about the business problem that needs to be resolved, or the procedure that must be improved
- Interview employees and do observations on site to determine personnel, methods and equipment that will be needed during the project
- Perform analysis of company finance and tax data, which can include expenditures, revenue and employment studies
- Develop new options and practices to solve the given business problem
- Provide recommendations for new procedures, systems or changes to the company
- Make detailed recommendations to senior managers through presentations or reports
- Work with senior managers to ensure that proposed changes are occurring
Management consultants who are on a contract often are responsible for writing proposals and bids for various parts of the contract. The company will usually ask for proposals from several consulting companies that work in that given area. Those who are interested in the work need to turn in a proposal by deadline that details how the work will be done, by whom and at what price.
Where We Work
Management consultants had approximately 759,000 jobs in 2014. Industries that have the most management consultants are these:
- Management, technical and scientific consulting: 22%
- Insurance and finance: 10%
- Federal government: 8%
- State and local government: 7%
- Company and enterprise management: 5%
Approximately 20% of management consultants are self employed.
If you want to be a management consultant, you may be interested in working for some of the most prestigious consulting companies. As of 2017, these are some of the best to work for:
- Boston Consulting Group
- Bain and Company
- Deloitte Consulting
- Booz Allen Hamilton
- Oliver Wyman
- IBM Global Services
How to Become
Management consultants nearly always possess a bachelor’s degree in business, finance or accounting. However, an increasing number of consulting firms today will prefer to hire professionals who already have their MBA.
Other good backgrounds for this profession include marketing, psychology, computer science and English.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS states that the median salary for management consultants is $81,320, with the top 10% earning above $150,000 per year.
That website further notes that the median wages for management consultants are as follow in various industries:
- Federal government: $88,000
- Management, technical and consulting: $86,300
- Finance and insurance: $79,000
- State and local government: $63,900
- Company management: $82,800
Payscale.com reports that the salary range in this profession is $56,622 to $144,165, with a median of $86,222.
The job outlook for management consultants is quite good, with demand in the industry set to rise by 14% by 2024, which is much faster than average. This trend is occurring because companies are under intense pressure from shareholders to improve their efficiency and control their costs.
As markets are getting more effective around the world, firms have to distribute their resources properly. Management consultants are needed to accomplish this.
It is expected that demand for healthcare management consultants will be even stronger. Healthcare organizations are dealing with much higher costs as technology improves and patients get older. Management consultants are needed to help healthcare organizations to determine how to improve care and reduce costs.
If you are generally interested in a career in management consulting, you may also have interest in these related fields where you can use similar vital skills:
- Financial manager: Provide for the financial security and health of an organization. A financial manager produces complex financial reports, directs vital investment activities, and devises new strategies that will help to ensure the long term health of the organization. Some financial managers may also become chief financial officers, controllers, finance officers or risk managers.
- Operations research analyst: Utilize advanced mathematical and analytical techniques to assist companies in solving problems and to make better business decisions. Similar to management consulting, operations research analysts study every aspect of the organization and determine the most effective way to allocate resources and how to better manage the supply chain to increase profits and reduce delays. These analysts also must carefully weigh the costs and benefits of various solutions to business problems, and then present the findings to senior managers.
- Market research analysts: Study current and future market conditions with the task of determining what potential sales of a product or service could be. They assist companies in learning which products and services customers want, and what the most competitive price is. They also will gather critical information on demographics for consumers, needs, buying habits and preferences. They will often use techniques such as focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, market analysis surveys and public opinion polls.
You will most likely need to earn a bachelor’s degree in business, finance or accounting to start in management consulting. Expect to earn an MBA in project management, finance or accounting to move into senior level positions.
As a management consultant, it will often benefit you to specialize your career into certain areas. Below are the most common ways to specialize your management consulting career:
- By industry: Many management consulting organizations specialize in a certain industry, such as IT or healthcare. This can be a good choice because each individual industry has very specific needs, goals and requirements. The more you and your company are specialized on, say, healthcare, the more knowledgeable and expert you can be in that field.
- By service type: A management consultant may specialize in providing a certain type of consulting in various industries. For example, you may provide information technology or social media consulting, or possibly mergers and acquisitions consulting. You will be able to leverage a highly specialized area of expertise to help clients in many industries.
- By geography: Some management consultants may specialize in a certain city, state or country. This type of specialization is less common today as so many companies have global reach and operations.
- By role: Another way to work in consulting is to specialize in a certain role within many companies. You may provide management consulting services to CIOs or CEOs, or perhaps work only with HR managers.
- By problem: You could specialize in a certain type of business problem, such as reducing waste in a company, or the elimination of redundant positions.
Training and Certifications
A critical certification that will greatly enhance your prospects in this field is the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation that is offered by the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC USA). This designation can be earned by management consultants who have reached a minimum level of experience and education.
Also, to earn the CMC, you must submit several client reviews of your work, pass a rigorous interview and examination that cover the organization’s code of ethics.
You must recertify every 36 months. While the CMC is not required to work in management consulting, it will definitely help your career.
- Management Analysts. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm
- Schmitt, J. Best Consulting Firms to Work for in 2017. (2016, Aug. 24). Retrieved from
- Management Consultant Salary. (n.d.). Retreived from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Management_Consultant/Salary