Consulting career

Consulting is a popular career choice for graduates, offering a unique and exciting opportunity to help clients achieve their goals.

However, starting on the right foot can be challenging. The industry is known for its high expectations and demanding work schedule—so if you hope to succeed, it’s crucial to be on the ball and know what to expect.

Whether you’re interested in becoming a financial consultant, a management consultant, or another type, this article will help you gather all the information you need before you embark on your career journey.

Let’s start with a quick rundown of the industry.

Career in consulting

What is consulting?

Consulting involves the provision of professional, specialist, and independent advice to businesses, organisations, and individuals. A person might hire a consultant to improve their business’s performance or better manage their funds.

Consultants typically have specialised knowledge and experience in a particular field, such as human resources, technology, management, marketing, or finance. They will use this advice to help clients solve complex problems and achieve their goals.

The consulting industry is a fast-paced and often challenging environment, requiring long hours of work and frequent travel. However, the rewards can be lucrative, making it an appealing career choice for anyone interested in helping people.

Why do companies hire consultants?

Businesses often engage consultants to help them make informed decisions. For example, a company struggling with stagnant growth might hire a consultant to help them devise a new growth strategy and identify areas for improvement.

Specifically, the company might work with a marketing consultant to create a social media advertising plan. The consultant will help the business pin down their target market and execute effective campaigns, bringing in more customers and stimulating growth.

As another example, human resources consultants can offer helpful advice for businesses, including:

  • Best hiring practices,
  • How to effectively train employees,
  • Productivity plans,
  • Employee retention strategies.

Overall, consultants aim to help businesses improve operations, reduce costs, increase revenue, and achieve goals.

Are there different types of consultants?

Within specialties, there are three main types of consultants—those who work in-house, externally, and for a firm. Let’s go into more detail about these positions now.

In-house or internal

In-house consultants work exclusively for one organisation, rather than consulting firms that serve multiple clients. They’re responsible for providing consulting services for their company.

For example, an IT consultant might work within the company’s IT department, helping staff implement new software, solve technical issues, and make changes to advance the company’s technological growth.

An in-house consultant might also work in the finance department, providing expert advice on financial analysis and planning for their organisation.

Working as an in-house consultant is a smart choice if you’re looking for a stable and rewarding career.

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Rather than work for a company, external consultants work independently, either as self-employed contractors or for a firm. Organisations and companies will hire these consultants to work for them temporarily—they’re not considered employees of the company they work for.

Businesses will often bring in external consultants to provide expertise that is unavailable within their own employee cohort—such as specialist financial or management advice.

If you choose to work as an external consultant, companies might hire you to perform services such as:

  • Strategy development and implementation,
  • Assistance with an acquisition or merger,
  • Conducting market research projects,
  • Training employees and streamlining the hiring process,
  • Project management,
  • Identifying technology solutions,
  • Business administration,
  • Enhancing business processes,
  • Establishing a new business,
  • Community outreach planning and implementation.

You may prefer an external role if you value flexibility, want the opportunity to work from home or in a hybrid environment, and enjoy collaborating with a range of people from different industries and backgrounds.

Working for a consulting firm

One way you can work as an external consultant is by joining a consulting firm. You’ll still be able to follow a flexible schedule and work with a broad range of people, but many consulting firms are largely responsible for finding clients.

You’ll have less control over your schedule and workload than you would as a freelance, independent consultant, but finding stable clients may be easier. To decide whether you’d prefer to work as a freelance consultant or for a firm, consider what matters most to you—stability or independence?

Whichever path you choose, you’ll provide similar services, such as project management, organisational change, or process improvement, depending on your field of expertise.

Working in a consulting firm

Benefits of consulting jobs

Consulting work can be challenging, engaging, and rewarding—a role where you’re always learning, building skills, and meeting new people. Let’s go into a little more detail about the career’s key benefits now.


Consulting can be a highly flexible career option, especially if you choose to work independently. You’ll have significant control over your schedule, workload, and choice of clients. So if you’re the type of person who likes to take a few days off during the week and work weekends—or work at night rather than during the day—consulting is a great option for you!

Exposure to different people and companies

Because consulting is such a broad-reaching industry—covering fields including finance, marketing, management, and information technology—you’ll have the opportunity to work with people and companies from many different walks of life.


If you love people, consulting is the career for you! As a consultant, you’ll be able to network with people from a range of industries, including senior consultants. These connections can be extremely valuable as you progress through your career.

Consulting can be tough, and it’s not for everyone

While consulting is an interesting and fruitful career, it’s not for everyone. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Long hours and travel requirements: Consulting often requires long work hours, with demand fluctuating throughout the year. You may also need to travel to client sites, which can affect your work-life balance.
  2. Client interaction: If you’re not a people person, consulting probably isn’t the career for you. Most positions are client-facing, so you’ll need to have excellent interpersonal and presentation skills.
  3. Pressure and demand: Consultants often work against tight deadlines and high client expectations. You’ll need to be adaptable and resilient to succeed in the field.

We recommend carefully considering the demands of a consulting job and whether it aligns with your skills, goals, and values before you pursue consulting as a career.

Top skills needed to be a successful management consultant

If you’re still weighing up whether a consulting career is right for you, these are the skills you’ll need to boost your employability in the field.


Complex problems often require creative solutions. Good consultants use their creativity to develop innovative solutions, actively learn and grow, and communicate effectively, helping individuals and businesses achieve success.

Conceptual and practical thinking

Using conceptual and practical thinking skills, consultants can understand difficult problems and apply their reasoning in practical ways. For example, a professional consultant should be able to gather information about a client’s industry and business and provide relevant recommendations.


Above, we talked about the client-facing nature of consulting careers. Since you’ll be working directly with business owners and stakeholders and performing client management work, strong communication skills are crucial for getting your message across and building positive client relationships.


Consulting involves presenting ideas and strategies to clients. Presentation skills will help you persuade clients to adopt your solutions, reflecting positively on your capabilities as a consultant.

Delivering memorable, impactful and engaging presentations in a professional manner will also help you stand out against competitors and land more clients.


Collaboration skills can help you in all aspects of your consulting career, from working in teams to managing client relationships. You’ll often work with other professionals, sharing skills and experiences while working towards a common goal.

To succeed when working with others, you’ll need to be able to listen actively, provide constructive feedback, and express your ideas clearly to people from a range of backgrounds.

Organisation and time management

Consulting is a demanding career path that often involves strict deadlines and tight schedules. You simply won’t succeed in the industry if you’re not organised!

Let’s say you’re working with a client to implement a new marketing strategy. You’ll need to develop a project plan, outline key milestones, and assign responsibilities—all within a set timeframe. You’ll also need to track progress and identify potential roadblocks.

Good organisation and time management skills can help you manage these tasks without overworking yourself or falling behind.

Preparing for a consulting career

How can graduates prepare for a career in consulting?

If you have a strong work ethic and good people skills, you’re already well on your way to a successful career in consulting. Here are some tips to get yourself prepared for the working world:

  • Gain relevant experience: Landing a position without relevant experience can be difficult. Internship programs, volunteer work, and placements can help you gain relevant experience, build skills, and network before graduation—giving you an enormous leg-up over other applicants!
  • Develop your soft skills: While hard skills in your chosen field are important, soft skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership are important too. University projects are a fantastic way to work on your abilities in these areas.
  • Practice, practice, practice: We highly recommend practising case interviews and other common elements of consulting work. You can ask your peers, tutors, or professors for help in this area.

Overall, the best way to prepare for your future consulting career is to gain relevant skills and experience, network with industry leaders, and practice. By following these steps, you’ll seriously increase your chances of success in the competitive consulting field.

How can educators support students aiming for a consulting career?

One of the best ways educators can support students aiming for a consulting career is to provide them with pathways for skill-building and experience. Offer relevant courses and programs, such as internship opportunities and classes in areas such as business, finance, data analysis, problem-solving, and strategies.

Mentorship and guidance from educators are also crucial here. Providing advice on which courses to take, which skills to focus on, and the demands of a consulting career can help students enter the workforce with confidence.

For more information on industry experience programs for budding consultants—and to sign up for a free trial—visit Practera’s educators portal. Students can check out current industry experience programs here.

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  1. Lately, my boss has been pretty pumped about finding a Pharmacovigilance Consulting Company because it’s a game-changer for our pharmaceutical company. With all the evolving regulations and safety monitoring in the industry, having experts by our side to navigate this complex terrain and ensure our products are safe and compliant is like having a secret weapon for success. Also, thanks for letting me know that a person may engage a consultant to boost their company’s performance or manage their finances better. As you said, consulting entails giving businesses, organizations, and people skilled, specialized, and impartial advice.

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