There are many types of consultants that exist to help organizations address business issues. Being a consultant can be a fulfilling and lucrative career. That is, if you are willing to put in the long hours, continue to learn, and consistently produce results for your clients.
Types of Business Consultants
Before we talk about all of the many different types of consulting available, let’s start with what consulting actually is. According to the Oxford dictionary, consulting is the act of being “engaged in the business of giving expert advice to people working in a professional or technical field”.
To put it plainly, consulting involves helping an organization solve a business problem and/or create/implement a new business strategy. Institutional consulting consists of going to work for fabulous brands such as McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, Accenture and more. However, thousands of independent consultants exist as well who also do meaningful work, albeit at a smaller scale.
There isn’t a formal professional title associated with consulting, like there is with a physician or attorney. This means any one person can call him or herself a consultant. However, generally you have to have years of experience and a hefty skillset under your belt to be successful as an independent consultant.
Generally, there are five widely recognized and broadly defined types of consultants, including:
- Human Resource
- Financial Advisory
The bottom line is this, if you have experience (preferably a few years), are willing to work hard, produce stellar results, enjoy being flexible (daily), and love to be challenged, you could make a phenomenal independent consultant.
Our recommended path? Either as a freshly minted undergrad, MBA or PhD, or as an experienced professional, look to break into an established consultancy. The learnings, professional development, and brand prestige will pay you dividends for the rest of your career.
Types of Consulting Services List
There are many types of consulting services available including the following:
As a management consultant, you will work with high-level executives to help them improve operations and/or develop strategy. You may also be called upon to help them through high-stakes mergers and acquisitions. This is the sexy strategy consulting that you read so much about. Because you typically work for the CEO (or an office within that hierarchy), this is the most strategic type of consulting. Thus, it carries the most pressure and highest pay.
If you love to solve business processes, operations consulting may be for you. Operations consulting involves determining how costs can be cut, efficiencies gained, and quality improved. Operations consultants get their hands dirty as they go beyond providing recommendations. They do this by actually sticking around through recommended operational process changes and implementations.
Financial Advisory Consulting
Making the right financial decisions is crucial for businesses to remain competitive in an ever-changing marketplace. Financial Advisory consulting focuses on helping businesses make sense of complex variables as they make critical financial decisions. These consultants help businesses with everything from restructuring to risk management.
Businesses have to be able to attract and retain customers. It’s becoming more common for organizations to outsource marketing functions. It’s more cost effective, and an outside perspective can be beneficial. This is where someone calling themselves a “marketing consultant” can mean widely divergent things. Independent marketing consultants can help small businesses with Search Engine Optimization and advertising, while established consulting firms such as ZS Associates help develop big-picture, data-driven marketing strategies.
Human Resources Consulting
People are the biggest asset of any organization. Understanding how many people you need, where you need them, and how to get the best out of them is paramount to HR consulting. HR consulting focuses on developing, implementing, and improving initiatives that encompass areas such as training & development and employee benefits.
Risk & Compliance Consulting
Every organization must comply with laws and regulations, especially those in financial services. Risk and Compliance Consulting focuses on keeping organizations in step with the law, which is compliance. This form of consulting ensures internal teams are trained on proper processes and procedures to ensure compliance.
In high demand given the ever-evolving IT space and the emergence of digital transformation, IT consulting is aimed at helping organizations navigate the complex systems needs of an organization. IT consulting involves everything from identifying new systems to implementing them and training employees on new technology. This is the biggest sector inside of consulting – every organization needs a holistic technology strategy. This is one of the reasons some of the largest professional services firms in the world – Accenture, Tata Consulting Services, etc. – are technology-focused.
Social Distancing Consultant
This consulting niche is new to the game. If you are entrepreneurial, social distancing consultants have popped up with the sole purpose to help businesses ensure people remain 6-feet apart.
Given the pandemic, there are lots of ways these social distancing consultants can help. It spans from redecorating a restaurant to helping socially distanced patrons feel comfortable. New companies have also appeared focused specifically on this topic, such as ReRun, which helps organizations determine which employees should physically return to the office and how to house them at the office – 6-feet apart of course.
Types of Consultants – So Many to Choose from Today
If you love unique, challenging work, consulting may be for you. As we’ve laid out, whether you want to enter institutional consulting or become an independent consultant, there are many types of business consultant opportunities available to you.
If you know you would like to be a consultant but aren’t sure how to break in, work with our expert team. At Management Consulted, we offer resume editing and interview coaching to help you find your next institutional consulting position. Otherwise, as an aspiring independent consultant, you need the Independent Consultant’s Toolkit. Whichever way you decide to go, at least now you’re armed with knowledge on the different types of consultants!
- Case Interview: Complete Prep Guide
- Top 25 Consulting Firms
- Management Consulting: What is it?
- Management Consulting Salaries Report