Outlook & Growth
This career is expected to grow 83 percent—much faster than average—by 2018. This industry is the fastest growing in the economy.
Growth will result from the growing complexity of business, the increasing use of new technology, trends toward outsourcing and mergers, and globalization.
Economic downturns can adversely affect growth in consulting. However, some consulting firms might experience growth as firms look to experts for ways to cut costs and remain competitive.
Salary & Wages
According to a 2006 survey conducted by Abbot, Langer, and Associates, the median annual total cash compensation for research associates was $38,600; for junior consultants, $46,010; for consultants, $58,240; for senior consultants, $80,500; for principal consultants, $82,618; for vice presidents, $140,005; and for senior or executive vice presidents, $155,000.
What is a Computer Consultant?
A computer consultant works for a management or computing consulting firm—or on her own—helping companies use technology effectively to grow their businesses and solve problems. Often working behind the scenes, consultants offer technical expertise, information, contacts and tools that clients cannot provide themselves.
Computer specialists such as systems analysts, computer scientists and computer engineers sometimes are referred to simply as “consultants.”
Systems analysts design new computer systems or redesign old systems for new applications. Computer software engineers design and develop software systems for the control and automation of manufacturing, business and management processes. Computer support specialists provide technical assistance, support and advice to customers and users, while database administrators work with database management systems software and determine ways to organize and store data.
Education & Degree
Employers generally prefer a bachelor’s or higher degree. In some firms it is difficult to move beyond the entry level without further specialized education.
Computer consultants can seek degrees in either business and management or computer and information sciences—or both. Common degrees include the bachelor in business administration/management of information systems, and bachelor in technology management. Many online colleges now offer master’s degrees in computer information systems management and MBAs in technology & IT management.
Certification is not mandatory but can give a candidate a competitive edge. The IMC USA also offers the certified management consultant (CMC) designation. Computer consultants often seek certification in specific products or technology areas.
Entering the Field:
Most entry-level positions are in large firms, and offer little responsibility. Some firms provide extensive on-the-job training. Most management consulting firms have two entry-level positions—workers who hold bachelor’s degrees usually start as research associates; those with graduate degrees generally begin as consultants.
Consultants often start out as workers in other fields. Some are advanced programmers. Others have worked as database developers or telecommunications managers. Highly experienced managers can start their own businesses fairly easily and cheaply; indeed, every year, thousands of workers in this industry go into business for themselves. Some of these workers come from established consulting services firms, whereas others leave technology jobs in industry, government or academia to start their own businesses.
If you have computer and technical skills you will need to acquire skills in building and managing a business. Many online colleges offer certificates and business degrees with majors and concentrations in entrepreneurship, general management, small business development and technology management.
Source for salary and growth data is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For more information on careers in computer consulting, salaries, and job prospects visit: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Management, Scientific and Technical Consulting Services.