I have to admit, when I first started my company and was seeking advice on how to build my business, I had no idea what management consulting was. A quick Google search of the term told me that management consulting is “the practice of helping organizations to improve their performance.”
Well good, I thought, because I was worried Google would be vague about it!
The irony, though, is that defining management consulting is vague in itself because the concept is so broad. Clients seek out management consultants for solutions to a very wide range of specific problems, whether it’s advice on how to restructure the company, guidance on revamping HR, or a plan for upgrading the company’s IT suite.
At the core, however, there are two main motivations for companies seeking out management consultants: They want the unbiased perspective of an outsider (i.e., non-employee) in tackling an issue, or they need a level of expertise to solve a specific problem that they can’t get from a current employee, or a combination of both.
It’s an incredibly versatile field, and demand for management consultants only seems to grow as time goes on. But is it the right career for you? Here are five things you probably didn’t know about management consulting to help you make your decision.
1. You’ll never have two identical workdays. In fact, you’ll seldom have two that are even similar. The broad range of work that goes into management consulting means coming up with creative solutions on a case-by-case basis tailored for each client, so you’ll end up with a very wide range of tasks day-to-day. If you’re the type of person who gets bored easily, this is definitely a field to look into. If you’re more of a structured person who needs a certain level of routine, it’s probably not your cup of tea.
2. You get tons of responsibilities early on,which translates into an incredible amount of experience in a short period of time. Great for those who are looking to beef up their resumes—not so great for anyone who is squeamish about working long hours and being on call 24/7.
3. You’ll get crazy access to senior management at client companies. It’s one of the things that Elodie Garson-Besançon, a management consultant at Ernst and Young based in Europe, loves about her field—high exposure to senior level individuals. One-on-one time with the C-suite is a major perk of the job that not many other professions offer. And that’s good news, given that millennials rate mentorship as a top career value.
4. You can make bank if you play your cards right. The median salary for all geographic areas and all management consultant career levels is $86,000—not too shabby. It’s a very competitive field, but if you can get in with one of the top firms, you’re looking at close to six figures with little to no professional experience. Firms want to hire the best and the brightest out there, and they’re obviously willing to cough up the money to get them.
5. You don’t necessarily need an MBA to pursue a career in management consulting—but you’ll make more money if you do. Salaries for management consultants in their first year out of undergrad averaged $70-75K, as opposed to $160-200K for those in their first year after business school. Be careful, though. I’ve warned before that not all MBA programs are created equally, and if you don’t do your homework, your MBA could end up actually costing you.
All in all, the demand for management consultants remains high, so it seems this is a field that will only continue to grow. Especially if you’re able to carve out your niche and build a track record of success for clients, the opportunities—and the money, apparently!—are endless.