Executive consultants provide expertise to companies about subjects that employees need help with. The subject of this expertise can vary widely, depending on the type of company. Governments, corporations and schools hire consultants to help them in job searches and to improve marketing plans, set goals and reorganize operations. They typically work on a contract basis, although sometimes one job can last several months or years.
Consultants are hired by a company to come in and give input on some aspect of the company. In the beginning, consultants usually observe the current business practices and talk to employees about how the business is being run. Once they gain an understanding of the company, they begin offering solutions and plan ways to improve the business. Sometimes, consultants stay with the company as the changes are implemented.
Some executive consultants work for a consultant agency. These agencies typically have expertise in one specific field, such as health, marketing, advertising, finance or technology. Companies hire the firms to assess that specific area of their operations.
Individuals become executive consultants when they develop a deep level of expertise. Often, a person retires or leaves one job and becomes a consultant about the same subject afterward, offering companies the benefit of his years of experience. One example of this commonly occurring is in law enforcement work. Retired police chiefs often become security consultants or consultants that help with the management and organization of police departments.
Executive consultants must have a significant amount of experience in one area. A bachelor's degree is often required and a master's degree is also helpful. They must understand the situations a company is facing, the pressures it may be under and the skills needed to improve the situation. They must have planning and project management skills, and be able to present their findings to the company executives.
Salary is based on a contract basis, so annual income is based on how many clients an executive consultant has within a year. According to SalaryList.com, which compiles salaries based on nationwide job listings, the average salary in 2010 was $132,561, based on 20 listings that included salary information.