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Could you have a career in consulting?

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Most people have no difficulty noticing problems in their workplace. When faced with something that makes their jobs more difficult or costs the company money, typical workers shake their heads, grumble to co-workers, and hope that “someone” will do something to fix the problems.

If you’re the type of person who not only notices problems, but you can also come up with solutions, you may have what it takes to become a business consultant.

As a business consultant, also known as a management consultant, you could have a high paying career where executives turn to you for direction in running their businesses.

What specific types of problems do business consultants recommend solutions for? The answer is any type of business problem. Some business consultant, somewhere, right now, is probably working on a business challenge in almost any area of business you can imagine. If it is part of running a business, sooner or later, it will need a consultant to fix it.

Some consultants specialize in working with businesses in particular industries, such as health care or manufacturing. Others work with clients in a variety of industries, but specialize in particular business functions, such as marketing, human resources, or information technology. Others specialize in helping small businesses achieve success.

With all the demand for their services, it’s no wonder there’s an old saying that if you become a business consultant you’ll only work half days – 12-hour days, that is.

Even with potentially long working hours, consulting is a hot career. A recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive for The Wall Street Journal’s executive career site CareerJournal.com, named consulting one of the eight “best careers.”

One reason is because it is among the highest paid professions. A 2006 survey by the Association of Management Consulting Firms found entry-level consultants earn an average of $65,000 annually while senior partners earn an average of over $300,000 (including bonuses and profit sharing).

While many consultants are hired by large consulting firms, it is an attractive career choice for those who want to have their own business.

You can operate a consulting business from home, without large start-up costs. In fact, you probably already own the equipment needed — a computer and phone – and much of your business is likely to come through low-cost marketing such as networking.

You can also start on a part-time basis, while keeping your current job as your primary source of income. Then as the demand for your services grows, you can commit to consulting full time.

Unlike some other professions, there are no specific educational requirements to become a business consultant. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 28% of consultants do not have a degree of any kind.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy for someone with no credentials to become a successful business consultant. Those who are most likely to succeed usually have either a formal business education or a wealth of business experience.

They also have the skills needed to solve problems and work with senior management.

To see if consulting is the career for you, here are some questions from the FabJob Guide to Become a Business Consultant. Note all that are a “yes” for you.

  1. Do people frequently ask for your advice?
  2. Do you enjoy finding solutions to problems?
  3. Are you a critical thinker?
  4. Do you know a variety of problem-solving techniques?
  5. Do you enjoy doing research?
  6. Do you have a good vocabulary?
  7. Do you avoid using jargon or technical terms that others may not understand?
  8. Do people consider you to be a good listener?
  9. Do you understand non-verbal communication such as body language?
  10. Do you have excellent written communication skills?
  11. Are you comfortable speaking in front of a group?
  12. Do you have project management experience?
  13. Can you see the big picture and break it down into manageable components?
  14. Are you well organized?
  15. Do you meet deadlines?
  16. Do you have experience leading teams?
  17. Are you ethical in all your business practices?

 

If you answered “yes” to all these questions, you already have qualities found in successful business consultants.

Now look at any you answered “no.” Questions 1 to 5 relate to problem-solving skills, questions 6-11 relate to communication skills, questions 12-16 relate to management skills, and question 17 concerns business ethics.

Fortunately, many of these skills can be learned through business courses, books, and experience.

So the next time you notice something that’s a problem at work, try coming up with a solution.

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