How to Become a Consultant

Consulting can be a very rewarding and lucrative career choice for those who are willing to work hard and produce positive results for their clients. If you have expertise in a particular area of business, education, government, or other non-profit organization, you can leverage your knowledge and earn money.

Job Description

As a consultant, you will give others advice, make recommendations to solve problems, and offer your specialized skills in such areas as accounting, writing, editing, designing, business analysis, and computer programming. In general, you with either get paid per hour, per project, or a commission based on performance or sales. As a consultant you will be a self employed, independent contractor responsible for your own taxes, social security, health care, retirement, and other benefits. However, you will also get to set your own hours, choose what work you do and do not want to do, pick your clients, and take time off whenever you want.

Good Candidates

If you are a risk taker, you are a good candidate to become a consultant, especially since the work isn’t steady. People who often become consultants include recent graduates, career or life changers, retired individuals, and seasoned experts. All these groups of people have reasons why they make good consultants. Recent graduates have the academic background but lack the working experience they need to find more permanent work. Therefore, having the opportunity to share their knowledge on a temporary basis with various companies and organizations benefits them greatly. Likewise, career and life changers are looking to gain experience and do work on their own terms, so being a consultant works well for them. And for retired individuals and seasoned experts, they are looking for rewarding work and the chance to share their knowledge with others who could benefit from their expertise.

Tips and Advice

As a consultant you should approach any company or organization you think could benefit from your services. Most businesses hire consultants because they only want to hire someone on a temporary or part-time basis. You can call or email your prospects or send them a letter or other form of marketing communication that highlights your skills and the benefits you have to offer. Although you don’t have to have any particular form of education in order to become a consultant, you do need to have experience in your area of expertise. You may also need certain licenses or certifications, depending on your profession. In addition, it will help you to have both work samples and a client reference list in order to get your foot in the door.

Fees

You may be wondering what you should charge for your consulting services. Just remember that you need to make sure that you charge enough to cover all your expenses on a project. Think about things like the office supplies you will use, wear and tear on your computer or printer, time you spend in meetings and on the phone and all the benefits you will have to pay for yourself because you are self employed. One strategy you might want to consider when setting fees is doubling or even tripling the last satisfactory hourly wage you made and then determining how much you would need to make in a typical 8 hour day and then multiplying that number by how many days you have to complete the project. You might do some research to see what other consultants in your field are charging for their services just to make sure you are in the right ballpark.