When companies are faced with a problem they simply can’t resolve, or when they lack the expertise required to chart their own path, they often call upon the expertise afforded by working with a management consultant. Companies face a myriad of problems and issues that are as vast and as complicated as the business functions they use every day. It could be issues pertaining to operations, manufacturing, inventory & supply chain management, sales & marketing, engineering & design, logistics & procurement as well as finance and accounting. In some cases, the problems are systematic and involve the company’s entire business approach. In fact, management consultants are often relied upon for reviving the fortunes of companies and saving them from insolvency.
Companies often need expertise that go beyond their own scope of abilities. They may simply lack the core competencies to confront the issues and find a resolution. So, given the scope of their input, what are the responsibilities of a management consultant and how does someone go about becoming a management consultant?
Management Consultant Job Responsibilities
A management consultant may be called upon to work with a company and improve their manufacturing production throughput. This would involve working directly in production, lowering manufacturing cycle times and improving processes so as to improve production capacity. In other instances they may be called upon to streamline operations, reduce redundant work procedures and improve customer service. Management consultants are often called upon to help a company improve its market share and grow sales. Still others are asked to reduce inventory costs and better manage supply chains. In almost every case, a management consultant’s responsibilities include addressing a specific need and providing measurable and quantitative results.
Typically, consultants are given benchmarks or objectives to attain in order to measure the success of a given initiative. They must come to the table with proven methods of cost reduction and problem resolution. In some instances, they report only to the president or owner of the company and have decision making abilities over the entire company’s management team.
Management Consultant Training and Education Requirements
So, what does it take to become a management consultant and what training and education is required? In almost every instance, a successful management consultant comes to the table with years of experience in their given field of expertise. They often attain a bachelor’s degree in business administration, followed by years of field experience and then improve upon their experience with a master’s degree. Because management consultants are called upon to resolve specific problems, they often become specialists in their given field of expertise. However, this doesn’t mean a graduate with a bachelor’s degree in a specific field can’t secure a management consultant position. It’s quite common for graduates to immediately secure a position with a reputable firm, provided they have the aptitude and abilities to handle the position. However, as a general rule most rely upon their education and several years of field experience before venturing into consulting.
Management Consultant Salary and Wages
An argument can easily be made that the skies the limit in terms of salary for management consultants. Compensation packages for consultants employed by firms include base salaries, commission and bonus structures, profit sharing and in some cases per-diem for on site work at customer accounts. Several industry resources peg first year consultant salaries between $65,000.00 to $75,000.00 annually. Experienced consultants easily earn between $100,000.00 and $150,000.00 annually. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009 the top 75% of management consultants earned $48.75 an hour or $101,410.00 annually. The top 90% earned $64.82 an hour or $134,820.00 annually.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Some firms have compensation based on a team’s ability to save the customer money or their ability to achieve agreed upon results. The better the team’s results, the higher their compensation. For management consultants that are self-employed, they alone determine their own compensation and are able to determine their individual hourly rate.
Management Consultants Certifications
There is no set certification to become a management consultant. Successful consultants rely upon their years of experience, education and past results. In some cases, they may hone their skills by pursuing a certification as a Master Management Consultant. This certification is offered by a number of business schools and covers a wide range of business topics. In order to constantly be on top of their game, consultants must continually improve their skill set. There are a number of consultant training programs available to not only improve their abilities, but also help put them at the front of new approaches.
Management Consultant Professional Associations
Typically, consultants will join professional associations that are relevant to their experience. A consultant working in supply chain management and manufacturing will often be a member of APICS (American Productivity and Inventory Control Society). In other instances, consultants can join the Institute of Management Consultants, the Professional Management Consultants Association or their firms may join the Association of Management Consultant Firms. These associations allow members to upgrade their skill set and improve upon their knowledge with training courses and programs. While there is no single association, there are a vast number of individual associations available to address a consultant’s personal and professional development.