How to Become a Business Strategy Consultant: Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a business strategy consultant. Learn about the job description, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in business strategy consulting.

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Business Strategy Consultant

Business strategy consultants, sometimes called management consultants and analysts, evaluate and transform business models for public and private organizations in order to improve organizational effectiveness, expand the business, or increase profits.

Management analysts usually work for themselves or a consulting service; very few are employed full-time by an individual corporation. Those that are self-employed will have more flexibility with their schedule but will also be responsible for building and maintaining a strong client base. Business strategy consultants work in office settings and split their time between their home-base office and clients' locations.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; Master of Business Administration may be preferred
Degree Field Business, management, or a related discipline
Certification Certification is not required, but related certifications are available from business and management organizations, such as the Institute of Management Consultants
Experience Minimum of 3 years of experience in consulting and business strategy
Key Skills Analytical, communication, problem-solving, time-management, organization
Median Salary (2016)* $68,982 (for business consultants)

Sources: Job postings (December 2016), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, *

Career Steps

Step 1: Earn a Degree

Educational requirements vary by employer. While a bachelor's degree is required, most employers state that they prefer applicants to have a graduate degree and field experience. Typically, employers look to hire applicants with a Master of Business Administration.

In a bachelor's degree program in business administration, students learn to communicate effectively using business terminology and use technology to analyze complex systems. In addition to the required liberal arts courses, students take courses in computer analysis, statistics for strategy problems, operations management, and business communication.

For those who wish to purse a graduate degree, an MBA is highly desirable. MBA programs can be found with business strategy specializations. Students acquire analytical expertise and learn the elements of business management, problem solving, and planning for long-term growth.

You may want to complete an internship. Many educational institutions allow or require students to complete an internship during their degree program. An internship at a consulting firm is an excellent way for students to get their foot in the door and apply classroom knowledge to real-life situations.

Step 2: Gain Experience in the Field

Strategy consultants typically have many years of experience in business and consulting. Experience working in a particular business sector, such as health care or information technology, is typically required before becoming a strategy consultant in that sector. With experience, business strategy consultants may be able to increase their promotion potential.

It's helpful to consider a certificate. In addition to degree programs, some universities offer professional certificate programs in business for those with experience. While gaining work experience, future business strategy consultants can enroll in a business strategy certificate program. These programs may be especially helpful to those who have not achieved an MBA or for those who want to prepare for certification exams.

Step 3: Become Certified

While certification is not required to work within this industry, it may be preferred by some employers. Related certifications are available from organizations such as the Institute of Management Consultants USA (IMC USA). IMC USA offers the designation of Certified Management Consultant. To be considered, consultants are interviewed and must pass an exam based on IMC USA's code of ethics.

The International Institute of Business Analysis also offers the Certification of Competency in Business Analysis and the Certified Business Analysis Professional credentials. These certifications require extensive business analysis experience, and each certification requires passing an exam.

Step 4: Become a Business Strategy Consultant

Once education and experience qualifications are met, future business strategy consultants can decide whether they will look for employment in a business as an internal consultant, join a consulting firm, or open an independent consulting firm. Those who work for large business strategy consulting firms may have opportunities to become a partner or move on to other high-level management positions.

To recap, with a bachelor's degree, experience, and possibly certification, a business strategy consultant can earn about $69,000 a year to evaluate and transform business models for public and private organizations in order to improve organizational effectiveness, expand the business, or increase profits.

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