How to Become a Management Consultant

Career Path Guide

There are many possible paths for becoming a management consultant; a common one is it to follow these steps:


1. Make sure you have the right personal traits for this work

2. Pursue a bachelor’s degree in an area that interests you

3. Pursue a master's degree in Business Administration (MBA) or in Management 

4. Meet employers at career fairs and find one that suits your needs

5. Land a job and gain experience 

6. Advance your career as you gain experience and earn certification


Below, we’ve expanded on these points to give you an idea of what you'll need to begin a career as a management consultant in Canada or the United States.



What Education Will I Need?

There is no set career path into management consulting; generally this is not a degree-specific industry as management consultants are experts in specific disciplines or business areas.


A master's degree however, preferably in Business Administration or Management, though not required, is generally considered to be the best academic preparation for this field.





What is a Management Consultant? 

A management consultant is someone who uses their knowledge in business management to help organizations to improve their performance. They do so by analyzing existing problems within the organization, and developing plans for improvement.


Management consultants offer services across all areas of business; from HR and marketing, to IT and finance.



What Are The Duties of a Management Consultant?

Although the duties of a management consultant can vary based on their level of responsibility, among other factors, they are generally responsible for the following:


• Defining the nature and extent of a project by gathering information 

• Conducting research to determine the current efficiency and effectiveness of managerial policies and procedures

• Analyzing the data collected 

• Using background knowledge to develop proposals for improving methods, systems or procedures

• Presenting recommendations to the client organization

• Assisting in implementing their recommendations, if required



What Does a Management Consultant Do?

Management consultants are contracted by private companies, government agencies, not-for-profit and non-profit organizations for the purpose of providing independent and objective advisory services.


These services include strategic planning, quality assurance, facilitation, education, training, identification and analysis of management issues as well as solution development and strategy implementation.



What Experience Will I Need?

Some successful management consultants enter the field through years of experience in middle and upper-level management positions, in various professional and industrial fields such as Accounting, Finance, Marketing, HR or IT.


However, pursuing a business degree (or a master's degree in a specialized field) and being recruited out of university is a common way to get into management consulting. In fact, many of the large consultancy firms actively recruit graduates straight from university.


Success Tip: Don’t settle! When meeting employers at career fairs, don’t just let the employer ask if you’re a good fit for them; make sure they’re a good fit for you!



What Certification Will I need?

Although typically not considered a requirement for working as a management consultant, pursuing the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation is generally considered an excellent idea, as it can help demonstrate professional competence and instill trust in clients and employers. 


Please Note: To call yourself a Certified Management Consultant or CMC, you must be a registered member of your provincial/state Institute of Certified Management Consultants. You do not have to be registered if you do not call yourself a Certified Management Consultant or use the initials CMC after your name.



How Do I Become Certified as a CMC? 

Certification requirements can vary by region, but it general, earning the CMC designation involves meeting minimum levels of education and experience, submitting client reviews, and passing an interview and exam covering the your local CMC institute’s code of ethics.





Is Management Consulting Right for You?

To succeed as a management consultant, and to find fulfillment in this profession, you will need certain personal traits, and have certain professional interests, including:


• You can work well with others and forge good working relationships

• You have initiative and drive

• You’re prepared to work long hours to meet deadlines

• You’re flexible; you don’t need your schedule to be mapped out for 6 months at a time

• You’re willing to travel to visit client sites

• You’re interested in having several work streams at once

• You’re willing to do a variety of work and project types

• You’re willing to filed critical questions about your recommendations

• You enjoy analyzing managerial methods and conducting research

• You enjoy taking charge of situations and providing critical assessments and constructive advice 


Please Note: The majority of work in management consulting is client facing and there is a lot of pressure to deliver; if you're the shy and retiring type, this is probably not a good career choice for you.



What is the Salary of a Management Consultant?

The actual wages and salaries of management consultants can vary greatly, typically depending on the following factors:


• Their level of education and experience

• The amount of responsibility inherent in their job

• Whether they are self-employed or not

• Whether they work part-time or full-time hours

• The structure of their financial benefits package, if they have one

• The region in which they work

• Their salary negotiating abilities

• Many other factors


Management Consultant Salary in Alberta: According to the 2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the average salary level of Albertans working in the “Management Consultant” occupational group is $92,531 per year.


Salary - British Columbia: According to WorkBC (Province of British Columbia), those working in the “Professional occupations in business management consulting” occupational group earn an annual provincial median salary of $72,800.


Salary - United States: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the “Management Analysts” occupational group is $83,610 per year.



Who Creates Jobs for Management Consultants?

Management consultants are usually self-employed or work for consulting firms. Regardless of their employment structure, their services might be contracted by private companies, government agencies and non-profit organizations that have downsized then employ management consultants to carry out some of their work.


They are brought in by these organizations to help them become more efficient, or to deal with specific challenges, such as changing laws and regulations.



Current Job Postings

Our job board below has "management consultant" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia:



What Career Advancement Opportunities Exist?

If you display competence, dedication and initiative in your work, you could move on to positions of greater responsibility and pay, such as "team leader" or "senior consultant". It’s also possible to become a senior partner in a consulting firm, although such an opportunity is considered rare. 


After gaining experience as an employee in a consulting firm, you might opt to set up your own firm (which might even involve sub-contracting your consulting services to your old firm while you build up your client base!).


Alternatively, career advancement for you might take the shape of leaving consulting to take on a senior management position at a non-consulting organization.



What is the Work Environment Like?

Management consultancy is not your average 9-5 job; you need a considerable amount of flexibility and mobility to work in this profession. Working hours are often very long and you can spend a considerable time away from home as work for clients typically takes place on-site.


There is also plenty of opportunity for travel in this field; some of consulting firms operate internationally, and many firms take on clients across the country.


This is not a great field if you are the shy and introverted type; the majority of management consulting work is client-facing. There can also be a lot of pressure to deliver, and to meet tough targets on time.


However, if you like being in the middle of all the different pieces that need to come together, and you thrive on the excitement of new projects, as well as learning something new, you may find a lot of fulfillment in a career as a management consultant.



What are Careers Similar to This One?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “management consultant”:


• Advertising Consultant

• Business Analyst


• Human Resources Manager

• Management Analyst

• Project Consultant

• Project Manager

• Sales & Marketing Director



What Scholarships Are There for Becoming a Management Consultant? 

The “Relevant University Majors” section below lists fields of study in our system that are relevant to becoming a management consultant. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our "Any Field of Study Scholarships” page.


Success Tip: Apply for every scholarship that you even barely qualify for; there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Sources for This Career Guide

Please consult the following resources to learn more about what it takes to work in this field:


• Occupational Profile: “Management Consultant.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved February 25, 2020.

• Business & Financial: “Management Analysts.” (September 4, 2019). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved February 25, 2020.

• Explore Careers: “Professional occupations in business management consulting.” (July 5, 2018). WorkBC website - Province of British Columbia. Retrieved February 25, 2020.​

• Graduate Careers: “How to Get Into Management Consulting.” Mark King (March 16, 2012). The Guardian. Retrieved March 17, 2017.

• Job Profile: “Management Consultant.” AGCAS editors (September, 2016). Prospects. Retrieved March 17, 2017.

• Incubator: “An Introduction To Management Consulting For Students And New Grads.” Cassandra Jowett (September 24, 2012). Talent Egg. Retrieved March 17, 2017. 

• Guardian Careers: “What does a management consultant do, exactly?” Alan Leaman (July 30, 2013). The Guardian. Retrieved March 20, 2017.



Relevant University Majors

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database; below we've outlined those that are most relevant to becoming a management consultant. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


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