Consulting is a popular career choice for high-achieving young people.
In addition to their incredibly rewarding work, consultants are offered high wages, a wide-range of work experiences and environments, as well as opportunities to make powerful network connections.
Want more consulting career insight?
Check out our Consulting Career Guide!
The line of work is of particular interest to recent graduates interested in more than one industry, and most certainly delivers on its promise for career growth and development.
While there is no substitute for hands-on experience, doing some research before you begin your job hunt can help in the hiring process.
Consulting is no exception – many people aren’t entirely sure what a consultant does, or what kinds of industries consultants can work in.
Consulting generally falls under two fields: internal and external. Internal consultants operate within the organization, while external consultants are hired externally and typically on a project-to-project basis.
Additionally, there are two types of firms that differ greatly in the type of work offered to an aspiring consultant: global management or boutique. While the day-to-day looks similar for consultants at either firm, the difference is primarily in the long-term, with global management firms offering more breadth across industries, while boutique firms offer more depth in a particular sector.
Industries where consultants are found
Given the diversity of potential projects taken up by an organization, there are great many industries in which consultants can offer their expertise.
Here’s a snapshot of the most popular types of consultants:
A particular favourite for young business graduates and the bulk of entry-level positions in consulting, management consulting is business strategy at the highest level.
This type of consulting is the most fluid with regard to duties, varying from client-to-client and project-to-project.
In light of the abundance of projects and clients, travel is not only routine but a requirement for management consultants.
As a managing consultant, presentations, spreadsheets and emails are your lifeblood, and your smartphone and laptop are your best friend.
Financial Advisory Consulting
Where management consultants often report to the CEO of an organization, the financial advisory consultant typically works for the organization’s CFO.
A financial advisory consultant addresses how an organization spends cash, manages debt, and issues equity for projects. Assignments can range from mergers and acquisitions to audits or debt-restructuring. This form of consulting emphasizes expertise in a particular field, and involves a significant attention to detail.
Important note: Distinct from personal financial advisors, financial advisory consultants work for large companies, firms or organizations.
Typically responsible for the design and creation of infrastructure, government are one of the largest clients for many engineer consulting firms.
Engineer consultants are engineers by profession, with work concentrated on designs for construction, on-site project managements and technical assistance. Additionally, engineer consultants will assess a client’s project by the client’s investment, the project’s feasibility, and social and environmental impact.
Another form of consulting that is universal across industries, HR consultants address an organization’s human resource needs.
More specifically, human resources consultants are tasked with maximizing employee performance with respect to their employer’s strategic objectives. Like engineering consulting, HR consultants are typically humans resource professionals.
Fun fact: Canada’s HR consulting industry is worth $2B alone, and worldwide, $18B.
With the exponential increase in reliance of computer and telecommunication solutions for business transactions, it’s little surprise that there are consulting firms exclusively dedicated to information technology.
Like HR consultants, IT consultants focus on advising organizations on how to maximize IT solutions to meet their strategic objectives. As practicing IT specialists, IT consulting work typically includes backup recovery, migration and cloud services, technological performance assessments and project management.
Marketing consulting is concerned with the management of information from an organization (or individual) to the public. Marketing consultants cover messaging, design, social media, and internal and external communications. Recently, it has become common practice for marketing consulting firms to also take up public relations which includes placing articles in target mediums, maximize exposure, monitoring and assessing awareness campaigns, developing and executing crisis communication, minimizing/averting negative media, and training client spokespeople to rehearse and refine messages.
If you’re looking for a career that balances both challenges and rewards, consulting is a great field to explore. With opportunities to hone your communication and analytical skills, a career in consulting can lead you to almost any industry.