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Business Consultant: Job Description and Career Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a business consultant. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and optional certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Business consultants, also known as management analysts, work in areas that include marketing, human resources, management, and accounting. Consultants help improve companies by 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 and/or professional certification.

Required Education At least a bachelor's degree
Certification Optional through a professional organization
Projected Job Growth* 19% (2012-2022) for management analysts
Median Annual Salary* $79,870 (2013) for management analysts

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorized business consultants as one type of management analyst. The BLS expected the employment of management analysts to increase by about 19% between 2012 and 2022. The BLS also reported the median annual salary among such analysts as $79,870 in May 2013.

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