Degree Options for Aspiring Consultants: Info for Students

As an expert in a specific field, a consultant provides advice and counseling to individuals and organizations. Here is a look at several relevant degree programs for aspiring consultants, including information on curricula, career options and potential salaries after graduation.

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Essential Information

Consultants work in nearly all fields, reviewing processes and offering advice on how to improve efficiency, profits and outcomes. Accounting consultants often hold 4-year bachelor's degrees or combination bachelor's/master's degrees. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is often preferred for consultants in management, while medical consultants may be licensed physicians who hold a Doctor of Medicine. Requirements for all these programs vary widely, though generally a bachelor's degree is required before applying for more advanced degrees and students should be high school graduates before beginning their undergraduate studies. Also, a certain amount of experience in a specific field may be required before the graduate can become a consultant.


Bachelor's Degree in Accounting for Accounting Consultants

The first step to becoming an accounting consultant is to major in accounting. Accounting majors learn how to analyze and interpret the financial data of an individual or organization. Degree candidates study tax and business law, along with financial information systems, auditing practices and cost accounting principles. These programs typically take four years to complete, although 5-year accounting programs are available, which award both a bachelor's and a master's degree in accounting. Applicants should possess a high school diploma.

In addition to the accounting curriculum, degree candidates also enroll in humanities electives, such as history or social science courses. Below are listed some sample course titles:

  • Managerial accounting
  • Cost accounting
  • Asset management
  • Financial reporting standards
  • Auditing

MBA for Management Consultants

Management consultants provide expert advice and opinions on specific business problems with the goal of maximizing efficiency and profits. Management consultants advise on issues ranging from when to promote a new product line to how to reorganize an existing management structure. One educational pathway for this career is an MBA degree in management consulting.

These degree programs arm students with the tools needed to design and implement organizational change and effectively confront new business challenges. Many of these programs allow the candidate to choose a specific consulting concentration, such as human resources or information technology. Programs may feature an internship, in which the individual works in an actual business environment as an entry-level consultant.

The exact courses required for this degree depend on the specific consulting concentration chosen. Some sample course topics include the following:

  • Negotiations
  • Team building
  • Efficient communications
  • Human resource management
  • Managing change
  • Management and business ethics

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Actuarial Sciences
  • Business and Commerce, General
  • Business Statistics
  • Customer Service Management
  • eCommerce
  • Logistics, Distribution, and Materials Management
  • Management Science
  • Office Management
  • Operations Management
  • Public and Nonprofit Organizational Management
  • Purchases, Acquisitions, and Contracts Management
  • Transportation Management

Doctor of Medicine for Medical Consultants

Medical consultants are licensed physicians who consult and advise medical boards on a range of healthcare issues, from patient care and treatment to practice standards and diagnoses. Aspiring medical consultants need to complete a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) program from a school accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. Designed to provide comprehensive exposure to the medical sciences, M.D. programs cover such topics as clinical care, treatment modalities and medical ethics. These programs traditionally take four years to complete, followed by post-graduate residency training.

Medical students take classes and complete the core curriculum the first two years before participating in clinical apprenticeships and taking elective courses the last two years. Common course topics include, but aren't limited to, the following:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical law
  • Genetics
  • Immunology

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) estimated that job opportunities for physicians and surgeons are expected to increase by 14% for the years 2014-2024. Exact salary information for medical consultants is difficult to arrive at owing to different factors, such as medical specialty and amount of experience. According to the BLS statistics for May 2015, family and general practitioners earned $184,390 as a median annual wage.

The BLS expected an 11% job growth for accountants and auditors in the 2014-2024 decade. These workers earned an annual median salary of $67,190 in 2015, according to the BLS.

According to the (BLS), job growth for management analysts is expected to increase by 14% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS anticipated that professionals who work for small consulting firms that specialize in a specific industry might have better job opportunities. The median yearly salary for these workers was $81,320, as of May 2015.

Continuing Education

All medical practitioners need to be licensed by their state and pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination, and this includes medical consultants. They must be in good standing with medical boards. Doctors may also seek board certification based on their specialty, from anesthesiology to urology, which requires additional residency training.

Offering services as a professional accountant requires licensure from the State Board of Accountancy, which administers the Certified Public Accountant designation. The CPA requirements differ between states, but they generally include passing a national exam and graduating from an accounting program. Some states require individuals to have accounting experience.

Consulting is a very broad and exciting field to work within, as consultants come from all sorts of different professional backgrounds. An individual's specific interests and career goals will help them determine which kind of degree best suits them.

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