Most management consultants have at least a bachelor’s degree. However, some employers prefer to hire candidates who have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA). In 2010, 28% of management consultants had a master’s degree.
Few colleges and universities offer formal programs in management consulting. However, many fields of study provide a suitable education because of the range of areas that management consultants address. Common fields of study include business, management, accounting, marketing, economics, statistics, computer and information science, and engineering.
Consultants also routinely attend conferences to stay up to date on current developments in their field. Many enter the occupation with years of work experience.
Organizations that specialize in certain fields try to hire candidates who have experience in those areas. Typical work backgrounds include management, human resources, and information technology.
As consultants gain experience, they often take on more responsibility. At the senior level, consultants may supervise teams working on more complex projects and become more involved in seeking out new business. Those with exceptional skills may eventually become partners in their consulting organization and focus on attracting new clients and bringing in revenue.
Senior consultants who leave their consulting company often move to senior management positions at non-consulting organizations.
Management consultants must be able to interpret a wide range of information and use their findings to make proposals. They must be able to communicate clearly and precisely in both writing and speaking. Successful consultants also need good listening skills to understand the organization’s problems and propose appropriate solutions.
Management consultants must work with managers and other employees of the organizations where they provide consulting services. They should work as a team toward achieving the organization’s goals. They must be able to think creatively to solve clients' problems. Although some aspects of different clients' problems may be similar, each situation is likely to present unique challenges for the analyst to solve.
Management consultants work under fairly high pressure. They should be confident and self-motivated when working with clients. They often work under tight deadlines and must use their time efficiently to complete projects on time.