Management Analyst and Consultant
Management Analyst and Consultant
Education and Training: Advanced degree plus experience
Salary: Median—$63,450 per year
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Management analysts, sometimes referred to as management consultants, provide corporations and government agencies with the expertise needed to solve management problems quickly. These problems may result from rapid expansion, business relocation, technical innovations, or competition from other corporations. For example, when one corporation takes over another, management may decide to reorganize the entire corporate structure. Outside management consultants would analyze the new organization, recommend changes to its structure, and help the corporation implement the changes. Such changes may include eliminating nonessential jobs and machinery or streamlining an inventory system.
Management consulting firms compete for contracts for their services, which usually entails preparing detailed proposals for specific consulting projects. After a consulting firm lands a project, the firm's employees analyze the problem or problems in the client's business and devise solutions. They present the solutions to their clients in written reports and oral presentations. Then the consultants may help their clients implement the proposed solutions.
Consultants typically work long hours on tight deadlines. Therefore, they must be able to manage job-related stress. The work requires creativity, self- discipline, and the ability to set and meet goals. In addition to being experts in their particular fields, successful consultants are excellent at making oral presentations and have good personnel management skills.
There are two common types of consulting operations in the United States: small consulting businesses, which usually offer expertise in a specific area, and large consulting firms, which offer a wide variety of consulting services. About 29 percent of management consultants are self-employed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although there are many small consulting firms, most consultants are employed by large firms. Consultants offer corporations and government expertise in a variety of fields. Some consultants focus on a specific industry, such as health care or high tech. Other consultants specialize by business function, such as marketing and finance.
Education and Training
To work in the field of management analysis and consulting, individuals need a college degree. Private industry usually looks for consultants with a master's degree in business administration (MBA) or a related discipline. Candidates straight out of college with a bachelor's degree may find work as management analysts or research associates reporting to consultants with more education and experience.
Students interested in consulting careers should study business administration in general while gaining more detailed knowledge in a specific area of expertise. Suggested areas of study include computer and information sciences, engineering, marketing and distribution, and communications.
With the increasing globalization of the world economy, successful consultants also need to have a basic understanding of world cultures, including the ability to communicate in one or more foreign language.
In order to give themselves a competitive advantage, consultants can earn the Certified Management Consultant designation. The designation is given by the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) USA to those who pass an exam and an interview covering the IMC USA's Code of Ethics.
Getting the Job
There are two common paths a person can take to become a consultant: a person can obtain a bachelor's degree in business administration or an MBA and then find a job at a major consulting firm; or a person can gain expertise in a specialty while working for a company and then seek employment with a large consulting firm or become an independent consultant.
Regardless of their career paths, successful consultants are able to sell themselves and their expertise. They keep a network of past and potential clients and often advertise their services in newspapers, magazines, and trade or professional periodicals.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Management consultants working for large firms typically follow a clearly defined corporate path to advancement. In most firms new consultants are referred to as associates or researchers. As they gain experience, consultants may be named senior associates and be given more responsibility and less supervision. After a number of years on the job, successful consultants may be named engagement managers, then senior engagement managers, with responsibility for supervising one or more projects. Ultimately, consultants at large firms hope to be named principals or partners in the firm.
Consultants with entrepreneurial ambitions often choose to start their own operations. Self-employed consultants must be able to acquire and keep enough clients to earn a profit.
The demand for management consultants is expected to grow as corporations and government rely more and more on independent experts to help identify and solve problems. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 605,000 Americans were employed as management analysts in 2004. Employment in this field was expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2014. Competition for the jobs will be keen. Companies will continue to need consultants to help them globalize their business operations and to keep pace with new technologies and management practices. Companies will also look to consulting firms to cut costs. Unlike full-time employees, consultants are not given benefits by the company that hires them and can be easily let go if they are not needed anymore.
Management consultants typically work in comfortable, pleasant offices. The job often requires travel, and many consultants make extended stays away from home to analyze a client's problems and implement solutions.
Consulting work can make extreme demands on one's time, with long workweeks and tight deadlines. Self-employed consultants often work out of home offices and set their own work schedules, although the success of their business depends on their ability to satisfy their clients' demands.
Where to Go for More Information
Academy of Management
PO Box 3020
Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510-8020
Association of Internal Management Consultants
824 Caribbean Ct.
Marco Island, FL 34145
Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) USA
2025 M St. NW, Ste. 800
Washington, DC 20036
Earnings and Benefits
Salaries in this industry vary greatly according to employees' education, experience, and their roles in a consulting project. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual salary for a management analyst in 2004 was $63,450. Another source, the Association of Management Consulting Firms, reports that entry-level research associates earned a median annual salary of $52,482; management consultants earned a median yearly wage of $89,116, whereas junior partners and partners in a firm earned between $191,664 and $317,339 per year.