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How to become a management consultant

4-minute read

Management consultant talks to her client about their business
Rosanna Parrish

Rosanna Parrish

19 January 2024

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If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit and a background in business, being a self-employed management consultant could be a great career opportunity for you.

As well as solving business problems, the freelance nature of consulting means you can have the flexibility and freedom often not found in the corporate world.

Sound interesting? Keep reading to find out more about the skills you need to be a freelance management consultant.

What is a management consultant?

When a business faces a specific problem that they can’t solve on their own, they often choose to bring in a management consultant. As a consultant, you’ll work with the business to help solve problems – whether that be growing their profits or streamlining their company structure.

You’ll likely have a background in business – whether from previous industry experience or your studies – but bring with you an outside perspective that can truly help the business you’re working with.

You’ll use this knowledge to analyse a business’s problems, develop strategies, and offer recommendations to help your clients improve their performance and achieve their goals.

You can work for large organisations or small businesses across many different industries. As your career progresses, you may even find a specialism – perhaps you prefer helping IT businesses or working in manufacturing organisations.

What does a management consultant do?

The work you do as a management consultant will depend on the needs of your clients, as well as your chosen specialism. But some common tasks you should expect when consulting include:

  • compiling and analysing data in order to make informed suggestions
  • running workshops and training sessions
  • preparing reports and proposals with your findings
  • speaking with employees throughout the business
  • project management
  • team and employee management
  • providing additional training and support to carry out your suggestions

Management consultant project example

A company reaches out to you as they’re experiencing frequent communication breakdowns and delays in decision making – leading to less productivity.

To start with, you may interview different members of staff, review their communication and sign off process, and analyse their organisational chart. Taking this data, you’d be able to compare it to industry best practices or scenarios you’ve experienced before.

With this knowledge, you’ll likely discover where there are bottlenecks or gaps in communication. You’ll be able to present a more agile way of working and an improved company structure – ultimately improving communication and leading to faster decision making.

Your findings could be in the form of a continuous improvement plan or through training sessions you deliver. You may stay on to help implement your suggestions or leave them with a detailed plan to follow – it all depends on how you choose to work.

Skills to be a management consultant

While you may work across vastly different industries as a managing consultant, there are a few core skills that will help you find success in your role. These include:

  • business knowledge
  • people management skills
  • good communication
  • analytical thinking and logic
  • problem solving
  • getting along with others
  • flexibility

On top of this, it’s also beneficial to have skills in a particular industry or trade. You can build this knowledge throughout your career to help you stand out from others when bidding on projects.

How much does a management consultant make?

How much you can make as a self-employed management consultant will depend on your experience. The National Careers Service lists the management consultant salary between £27,000 and £60,000. But there’s potential for this to be even higher.

When you’re just starting out and you have less experience and fewer clients, you should expect your salary to be lower. But the more you work, the more experience you gain – meaning you can charge more.

As well as expanding your knowledge, you’ll also be gaining a reputation and growing your client base. You can check out our tried and tested methods for finding clients as a freelancer here.

Management consultant courses

There are many different ways you can train to be a management consultant. Firstly, you can begin a career as a consultant after studying any relevant business degree at university.

Having a degree in a foreign language could be a helpful niche – as you’ll be able to land contracts at businesses who work with international clients or have offices in other countries.

Here are a couple of other routes you can take to become a management consultant.

Graduate management consultant

Graduate schemes are a great way of getting valuable practical experience right after you finish university. Getting onto a graduate scheme at a consultancy firm can be highly competitive but the skills you develop will really help you once you begin your freelance consulting career.

Management consultant internship

Another way to gain practical consulting experience is to get an internship. This is a great option if you’re looking to begin your consultancy career after working in a different field.

Reach out to existing consulting firms and see what opportunities are available to you. Internships can be paid or unpaid depending on the organisation – but you may find an opportunity that works for your personal situation.

Chartered Management Consultant

One way to stand out from the crowd when working as a management consultant is to get accredited as a Chartered Management Consultant.

Achieving this accreditation means you’ve reached a certain level of standards as a consultant that you promise to deliver to your clients.

When organisations are choosing between you and a potential other management consultant, this accreditation may be what makes them choose you.

Keeping you and your clients safe

Because you’ll be giving recommendations in your role, it’s important that you understand the risks of being a management consultant. To help protect both you and your clients, it’s always a good idea to get management consultant insurance.

You can build a policy to suit your work needs. For example, professional indemnity insurance can help you in case you made a mistake or your work didn't meet the expected standards – such as making a suggestion which caused your client to lose business.

Public liability insurance will protect you as well, such as if you accidentally damage your client’s property.

Do you work as a self-employed management consultant? Let us know your tips in the comments below.

Get a quote for management consultant insurance

Looking for management consultant insurance? Build a policy that includes public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance, as well as other covers that suit your business.

Start your quote
Photo: nenetus/
Rosanna Parrish

Written by

Rosanna Parrish

​​Rosanna Parrish is a Copywriter at Simply Business, specialising in legal and HR content. Trained at London College of Communication, she has been creating content professionally for eight years at publications across the UK and Spain. Starting her career in health insurance, she also worked in education marketing before returning to the insurance world. Rosanna also writes about wellbeing in the workplace. She lives by the sea and does her best writing in coffee shops.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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