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Working as a consultant can be a stimulating and engaging career that requires you to draw upon various disciplines in order to create a solution that meets your client's needs. It may be difficult to sum up what your work entails as it varies from client to client and certainly across industries. A career in consulting favors those who have varied and diverse backgrounds, both in education and professional experience.
Your responsibilities will vary based on your industry, though generally, consultants are asked to procure background information on the client and client's industry. In order to accomplish this, you may be required to travel often to the client location. A general consultant is typically an entry-level position; it will be during this time that you will have to prove your research abilities in order to move into a specialized field.
Your other responsibility will be in ensuring client relationships. Your ability to do this is tantamount to your success, as strong communication is how you will efficiently create solutions for clients and sell them on your work.
Your position as a general consultant will mostly revolve around gathering information. You should have proficient computer and office technology skills. An understanding of various media programs is helpful, as it will take a degree of creativity to set yourself apart and sell a client on your proposed solutions.
Other Required Skills
Exhibit professionalism at all times, as you may be the only contact that a client has with the firm on a daily basis. Great interpersonal skills are necessary since you will spend most of your time gathering information via interviews from various levels of management within client companies.
The physical demands of this position are those of a typical corporate office job, with the exception that consultants travel often. You will find that travel requirements encompass 50 percent or more of your time. It is often this requirement that causes burnout among consultants, as it becomes difficult to balance personal and professional lives.
Education and Work Experience
You will most likely enter into the position directly out of college or even without a college degree, depending on age and industry, provided that you have sufficient work history specific to the industry. There is no required educational discipline, because it is most important for you to be able to adapt quickly and synthesize new information in an efficient manner.
Salary is dependent upon location, firm and experience. If you are working for one of the large consulting groups--such as McKinsey & Co., Bain & Co. and The Boston Consulting Group--your salary as an entry-level general consultant will be approximately $60,000 per year plus a bonus that varies annually depending on market conditions.
At a smaller consulting firm, salaries may vary from $36,000 to $50,000 depending upon the location and industry.
Working as a general consultant for a municipality carries a salary ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 depending on location.
The salaries stated above are current as of 2010.
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