Management consulting is one of the most popular career choices for today’s graduating students and career-changing professionals. The industry is growing fast, both in demand from organizations seeking consulting services and in the supply of candidates seeking consulting positions. Although thousands of individuals receive offers every year, tens of thousands compete for those offers. In the face of such intense competition, applicants need all of the help that they can find.
Students, who especially like the accelerated professional track of consulting, have turned the field into one of the hottest choices for entry-level professionals. Approximately 40% of graduates in each MBA class attempt to enter the consulting industry.
Other professionals with established careers also look towards consulting for opportunities to accelerate their professional development or to switch career directions entirely. As management consulting firms multiply and grow the demand for experienced hires that can establish and build new practices will likewise grow. But once again, the number of candidates exceeds available positions, making the competition fierce.
Starting salaries in management consulting are among the highest available for entry-level professionals, competing with the traditionally high earnings potential for investment banking, venture capital and law. Whether changing career paths or graduating from a business school, graduates fortunate enough to land an internal management consulting job receive starting salaries of approximately $100,000 USD plus bonuses of up to $50,000 USD, while undergraduates receive base salaries of $40,000 USD to $45,000 USD plus bonuses of up to $10,000 USD.
Independent consultants operating from small practices can earn significantly more than this once established, but it can take longer. Project Management graduate consultants can earn fees ranging from $1,000 USD up to $2,000 USD per day, while Facilitation Management graduate consultants can earn fees ranging from $2,000 USD per day to $5,000 USD per day.
But the potential to earn stratospheric salaries or fees is only one of the attractions of consulting; candidates also recognise its power to accelerate a career. Former consultants are valued for their carefully trained analytical minds and for their presumed expertise at solving business problems, or maximising service value.
As a result, many who leave consulting are likely to enter companies at higher levels than their peers who have worked the same number of years, but in other fields. There is a strong and arguably justified perception that a stint as a management consultant is the key to future professional success.
As with any industry, consultancy has two images; that of the consultant who tells you the time and charges you for it and that of the consultant who facilitates success over a sustainable period of time. The difference simply amounts to the substance which lies behind what the consultant offers. Good quality consultants tend to have tangible products to offer their clients, whereas poor quality consultants tend to try to sell clients proposals, advice, opinions, or even experience. Consultants who have tangible products tend to be the ones to trust and clients know this of course. It is always obvious to a client if they are employing poor quality consultants because it tends to be clear that they are just making things up as they go along. Conversely good quality consultants tend to be very well prepared and clients can invariably see, feel and touch what they are being asked to buy.
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