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How to Become a Consultant in 7 Simple Steps

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Looking for a way out of the typical nine-to-five grind doing work you don’t like?

If you’re looking for a path that offers flexibility, independence, and fulfillment, maybe the idea of becoming a consultant will pique your interest.

If you’re good with people and have an impressive portfolio of client success stories, then it’s time you get into the consulting business.

Consulting provides limitless opportunities and the money is great, but it can be difficult to know where to start.

To make it easy for you, we’ll provide you with a step-by-step roadmap of how to become a consultant.

An Overview of Consulting: A Primer

Before starting a consulting business, it’s important to understand the role of a consultant.

A consultant is a subject matter expert, like an independent specialist who gives professional advice and expert opinion in their area of expertise, typically on a temporary or contract basis.

Consultants provide assistance and information to clients who need help with some problems or needs they do not have the time or capability to handle themselves.

Consulting is about helping others. You could be a consultant helping individuals or full-blown organizations. Consultants are problem solvers who aim to help their clients make informed business decisions.

Organizations or businesses hire consultants to:

  • Get unbiased assessments of business problems and processes.
  • Identify areas for improvement and implement effective solutions.
  • Receive actionable insights and recommendations to drive success.
  • Install or implement a new system of technology.
  • Conduct research and assess the organization’s strengths and weaknesses.

How Much Do Consultants Make?

Consultants typically make money by charging clients fees for the services they provide. They may charge on an hourly, daily, project-based, retainer, or commission-based basis.

According to the most recent Salary.com 2023 data, consultants make about $105,517 per year, which equates to about $8,793 a month.

The same research indicates that the most popular consultant positions typically fall in the range of $63,215 and $147,819.

The number could be higher depending on your skills, experience, geographic location, area of expertise, etc.

What You’ll Need to Become a Consultant [& Associated Costs]

There are no set qualifications for this job. It all boils down to what the organization needs and how well you can sell yourself to prospective clients.

While getting into consulting can be a tricky prospect, it’s not impossible. There are a few elements you need to consider before starting your consulting business:

1. Education

While the educational requirements are subjective, a relevant degree in your field can give you a competitive advantage over others.

For example, if you specialize in computer systems, you could earn a degree in computer science. If you’re not sure which degree to pursue, consider getting a business degree.

2. Certifications

While certifications are not required, they can certainly help advance your career. They are like endorsements that help demonstrate your potential, knowledge, and skill to potential employers.

3. Licensing and Permits

Based on where you’re located and the type of consulting you offer, you may need to obtain a business license or specific permits to legally operate in a particular state, city, or province. Be sure to do your homework before applying for a business license.

4. Soft Skills

As a consultant, you may have to work with top-level executives. You’ll need to hone your skills to become an expert in building strong relationships. Soft skills will help you make meaningful connections and become a better consultant.

Related: Get Paid to Go to School Online

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Consultant?

Overall, you need a combination of education, experience, and strong problem-solving skills to start a consulting business. Education is not mandatory, but it’s definitely a bonus.

The associated costs may vary, depending on location, industry, and level of expertise.

Is It Hard to Become a Consultant?

Considering consulting jobs are extremely competitive, becoming a consultant can be both challenging and rewarding.

Consulting is the same as any other service business: you get paid to provide consulting services.

Consulting requires long working hours and you often have to travel to work with clients in person, and the pressure is sometimes immense.

Before you get started, ask yourself these questions.

  • Do you like to deal with a wide range of people?
  • Do you like to travel?
  • How well can you adapt to a flexible workload?
  • Do you have strong leadership skills?
  • Are you willing to put in many hours for work that doesn’t pay much?

If you answer yes to the majority of these questions, then consulting might just be for you. As long as you have confidence in your ability and skills, you can never be wrong about whether or not consulting is for you.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Consultant?

If you wish to take an entry-level position in an established consulting firm, you can start immediately after you’ve completed your bachelor’s degree, which usually takes 4 years. Add a couple of years if you choose to pursue a master’s degree.

Generally, the time you need depends mainly on your education level, work experience, and industry knowledge.

If you plan to work independently, you should gain some experience and build a strong portfolio to demonstrate your skills and accomplishments.

How to Become a Consultant in 7 Simple Steps

Let’s dive into the most important steps to starting your consulting business.

Step 1: Identify Your Area of Expertise

There are many types of consultants who work in different domains. For example, you could be a business consultant, financial consultant, marketing consultant, sales consultant, legal consultant, and so on.

To become a successful consultant, it’s important to determine your strengths and expertise. Consider areas you’re good at, projects where you’ve gotten recognition, or soft skills you’ve developed outside the scope of your work.

Step 2: Gain Relevant Experience

Work experience is not a must-have, but it’s always a great asset in every profession, and consulting is no exception. Seek opportunities in your chosen field, like part-time jobs, internships, or volunteer work. 

Collaborate with established consulting firms or industry professionals and take on industry-specific projects to gain hands-on experience in your preferred field.

Relevant experience and exposure will open up a wide range of opportunities for you.

Step 3: Get a Degree or Certification If Necessary

As a consultant, staying competitive in your niche is vital, and a bachelor’s degree shows your competency.

Whether you’re looking to do consulting full-time or as an independent contractor, most organizations or businesses prefer at least a bachelor’s degree.

Similarly, professional certification is not required, but it’ll give you an edge over non-certified consultants. For example, one of the most recognized certifications for management consultants is the CMC (Certified Management Consultant) certification.

Step 4: Build a Strong Personal Brand

Think you can build a brand without a website?

A survey conducted by Statista in 2021 suggested that 21 percent of consumers scour the internet to find local businesses and only one percent of those look for local businesses through other offline channels.

As a consultant, you need a well-designed website to demonstrate your skills and showcase your brand. A website is a great marketing tool to build credibility and trust. It shows your prospective clients that you’re heavily invested in your business.

Step 5: Network With People

Networking is the key to a successful business strategy. Leverage online platforms, such as LinkedIn, to connect and collaborate with like-minded professionals in your field. Create and share blog posts to show your expertise and market yourself.

Attend live events or participate in industry gatherings, seminars, and conferences. This is an effective way to build and grow your network and meet other consultants to develop meaningful connections through networking opportunities.

Step 6: Choose Your Target Audience

Before you start bringing in clients, you must identify your target market. The idea is to provide services to those who will profit the most from your offerings. Ask yourself if you’re going for a targeted approach or looking to extend your services to businesses of all sizes.

Conduct research and gather all necessary information about who your customer is and how you can help them. This will help you focus your efforts on them and create a unique business strategy that aligns with their requirements and goals.

Step 7: Market Yourself and Expand Your Clientele

Once you’ve figured out the criteria for identifying your target market, it’s time to focus on your marketing efforts. An effective marketing strategy will increase your online presence and encourage more people to work with you.

Invest in social media campaigns, host events, ask for referrals, partner with other consultants or consulting firms, promote your expertise, etc.

With the right planning and promotion, you can continue to grow as a consultant, land more contracts, and expand your clientele.

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Consultant

There are several reasons why you should go for consulting, including:

  • Be your own boss: The gig economy provides tons of opportunities for self-employment, and consulting is an exciting way to quit your day job and be your own boss. You set your own schedule, choose your clients, and work on projects that interest you.
  • Work with a wide variety of people: Consulting gives you exposure and allows you to collaborate with a variety of individuals from all industries. This way you can work on challenging business problems and have lots of opportunities to grow your career.
  • High earning potential: You can expect high salaries and comprehensive benefits packages. Depending on your experience and skills, you can charge higher hourly or project fees.
  • Continued professional development: The more you work with different clients, the more experience you gain. You’ll learn unique skills, build new relationships with clients, help businesses grow, and expand your business knowledge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I become a consultant without a business degree?

A business degree is not a requirement unless you plan to work for top management consulting firms. A degree will enhance your credibility. Consultants often hold degrees in business administration, sales, marketing, or finance.

How do I determine my consulting rates?

As a consultant, you can base your rates on your expertise, market demand, and the value you bring to your clients. Do some research on industry standards and set your rates accordingly. 

Should I work for a consulting firm or become an independent consultant?

Working for a consulting firm or becoming an independent consultant depends on your personal preferences and goals.

While working for a firm provides stability, doing your own consulting gives flexibility and independence.

Similar Gigs to Check Out

Being a consultant comes with many perks. For instance, you gain some transferable skills that would make you a good fit for other similar job prospects.

  • Become an affiliate marketer: Like consulting, you don’t require a degree or extensive experience to become an affiliate marketer. If you want to generate passive income by connecting people to businesses, affiliate marketing is for you.
  • Become an entrepreneur: With no formal education but the right skill set, you can be an entrepreneur and make more money than typical salaried workers.
  • Become a digital nomad: If you love the idea of working with no location constraints, you can switch to the digital nomad lifestyle and make money doing the things you love.

Wrapping Up

Success doesn’t come easy. It takes a lot of time, hard work, and determination. With the right approach and a desire to constantly learn and improve, you can succeed in the dynamic world of consulting.

Feel free to share your valuable feedback and comments in the comments section below. And be sure to share this guide with others who may be interested in becoming consultants.

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