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Consulting careers are tailored to fit specific industry needs. For example, IT consultants help businesses with their information and technology systems; management consultants make strategic recommendations for firms; and financial consultants aid companies with their finances and taxes.
Consulting offers you the ability to develop your skills and move up the ladder in your company. Regardless of the type of consulting you plan to do, in order to have a successful consulting career, you should have a clear set of professional goals.
A consulting career can start before you, the aspiring consultant, even begin paid work. Many consulting firms offer internships to students and recent graduates. A successful internship may provide you with a future opportunity to enter the firm as an employee.
Becoming an Analyst
Becoming an analyst is the first step of your consulting career. Consulting firms generally hire new employees specifically to fill analyst positions-- the most-junior position in the consulting field.
In order to qualify as an analyst, you typically need to have completed a bachelor's degree in a business subject, such as management, commerce or economics. Keep in mind that choosing to be an analyst does not guarantee you an eventual position as a consultant, but it is a good first step.
Completing an MBA
After spending a period of time (usually, two years) as an analyst, you will either be asked to remain with the company, or you will be let go. If you stay on, you will most likely be expected to complete a master of business administration (MBA) degree program. This is a graduate-level business program that will give you the necessary skills needed to succeed in consulting.
Becoming a Consultant
After completing your MBA, the next stop on your consultancy career path is to actually become a consultant. You will begin working more directly with clients and participating in teams to find solutions for business problems. This step is a significant personal achievement.
Becoming a Manager
Your next personal goal is to become a manager. A manager acts as a consultant but also has the added responsibility of managing junior staff members and client relationships. You will usually have a set of specific clients for whom you are responsible. Achieving this goal means you are well on your way to the top ranks in the consulting world.
In firms that are arranged in a partnership structure, a consultant's highest professional goal is being made a partner. As a partner, you still serve as a manager and consultant, but you are also a part owner of the firm. This means that you get a share of any revenues generated by the firm.
Becoming a partner is your crowning achievement in consulting. Although it may be a significant challenge, making it to this level will provide you with recognition as a top professional in your field.