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How to Become a Management Analyst or Consultant

Management Consultant looks at graphs on a tablet.

In recent times, many companies have experienced difficulties with employee management. A report by analytics firm Gallup shows that for every 10 employees, only two believe their managers inspire them to produce outstanding work. In this article, we’ll explore the job of a management analyst and the importance of their work. We will also explore how to become a management analyst or consultant.

What is a Management Analyst or Consultant?

A management analyst or consultant is a trained professional who works in an organization’s management unit to improve different aspects of employee performance. They help encourage growth and solve problems by offering expert advice. Management analysts work with various businesses across many sectors such as human resources, finance, marketing, and business strategy. Their job involves evaluating operations and identifying strategies to increase profit and efficient delivery.

Duties of a Management Analyst

The primary responsibility of a management analyst or consultant is to increase the efficiency of a business. They do that through the following:

Functional Expertise

Management analysts offer expert advice based on the industry. They may provide counsel on matters such as:

  • Organizational change management
  • Organization design
  • Mergers, strategy
  • Governance, finance
  • Leadership
  • Risk management
  • Strategic leadership
  • Information technology
  • Digital transformation
  • Talent management
  • Marketing

Objective Assessment and Analysis

Management analysts and consultants can also serve as third parties on different business problems. Here, they conduct thorough research and evaluation. Then they provide unbiased opinions and viewpoints on intricate business problems.

Project Management

As project managers, management consultants collaborate with internal project teams and senior executives to provide practical leadership and project management consulting, including project measurement, implementation, and execution.

Some of their day-to-day responsibilities include:

  • Recommending strategies to improve a company’s productivity and profit
  • Evaluating data such as revenue, employment, and expenditure reports
  • Collecting information on the challenges within a company
  • Recommending changes to procedures that hamper employee productivity
  • Collaborating with managers to track the implementation of proposed changes
  • Drafting presentations and reports for the company’s management team

Analyst Vs. Consultant

The professional world uses the words consultant and analyst interchangeably. Although both designations have a lot of similarities, some differences distinguish them. A clear understanding of the differences and similarities of each title will help you decide which career path interests you the most.

Who Is An Analyst?

An analyst is an expert who provides advice to businesses, organizations, and individuals concerning financial or business-related matters. Many analysts work in the business and financial sectors.

Who Is A Consultant?

A consultant is a specialized professional trained in a particular field and offers expert advice to businesses, organizations, and individuals on their specialty areas. Consultants have several years of experience working in a specific area and use their wealth of experience to help businesses.

Differences Between Analyst and Consultant

Many key differences distinguish an analyst from a consultant. The significant difference is that most analysts specialize in a single area of a profession and only offer advice in that specific area. On the other hand, a consultant has a broader scope and specializes in their field, providing advice on different areas within that field.

Secondly, consultants typically work as independent contractors, while many analysts are full-time employees for their organizations. However, both roles require regular workweek hours ranging from 40 to 50 hours weekly.

Work Environment for Management Analyst and Consultant

Professionals working in the management sector often split their time between clients’ businesses and their personal offices. Analysts spend a lot of time behind a computer in their private offices. Due to client demands, they might travel a lot. Most management analysts and consultants have to work under strict deadlines, which might be stressful. Finally, more often than not, they exceed the regular 40-hour workweek.

Skills for Management Analysts and Consultants

Management analysts need to have a wide range of skills to aid them in delivering their jobs to the maximum. These skills consist of technical and soft skills.

Soft Skills

  • Communication Skills: Management analysts need solid communication skills to verbally pass their findings and thoughts to a management team, clients, and employees. They also need excellent writing skills to create well-written documents and reports.
  • Analytical Skills: The profession requires analysts to collect and interpret various data types to evaluate a business and make recommendations.
  • Time Management Skills: A good management analyst must manage their time and that of others. Since they often work with deadlines, management analysts should be able to keep projects moving to avoid delayed delivery.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: Management analysts and consultants have to uncover problems and recommend solutions. Since no two organizations are the same, they have to be innovative and creative with their solutions.
  • Active Listening: Management analysts often have to interview employees and clients to determine the problem with the business. As such, they must be able to pay full attention to what others are saying, understand the points, and ask questions without unnecessary interruptions.
  • Critical Thinking: Professionals need to use reasoning and logic to weigh the pros and cons of alternative conclusions, approaches to problems, and solutions.
  • Social Perception: Management analysts should pay attention to the reactions of others and try to understand why people react the way they do.
  • Negotiation: Negotiation is an essential skill for management analysts. They have to reconcile different viewpoints and try to bring others to see the logic behind their proposed solutions.
  • Monitoring: Management analysts monitor the progress of their recommendations to determine the level of effectiveness.
  • Personnel Resource Management: The essence of management analysis is to increase productivity, thereby improving profit margins in the long run. To do this, they must be able to develop, motivate, and direct people.

Technical Skills

Management analysts build their careers around solving problems and creating solutions. For this, you will need a wide range of technical skills, as every business faces unique challenges. For example, a management analyst that works for a bank needs to understand financial modeling software such as Maplesoft, Quantrix, and Modano. They need to use this software to create portfolios, analyze data, make forecasts, and recognize trends.

Additionally, a management analyst or consultant should be competent in the following:

  • Data visualization

Since management analysts also have to make presentations to management teams. They must know how to show the data to those involved most effectively. Often, they use software such as Apple Keynote and Microsoft Powerpoint. They might use visualization tools such as Google Charts and Tableau at other times. Consultants who specialize in specific industries also need to understand software peculiar to that industry.

  • Data organization

Management analysts need to have a solid understanding of data organization software that uses web crawlers. This software allows analysts to gather and arrange data for further evaluation. Web crawlers also make tasks easier for analysts. These tools read huge volumes of data and split it into various classifications. Some examples of such web crawlers are Import.io, Octoparse, and WebHarvy.

Salary/Job Outlook for Management Analyst

According to data from the BLS, management analysts earned an average of $87,660 in May 2020. Professionals in the top 10% made above $156,840, while those at the lowest 10% earned lower than $50,990.

Management analysts in the professional, scientific, and technical sectors earned the highest with an estimated $93,710. In contrast, those in finance and insurance brought home an average of $86,690. Management analysts working for the government made an estimated $83,500. These are just a few of the good-paying jobs available in business.

The Bureau of Labor Services (BLS) estimates that employment for management analysts will see a 14% growth between 2020 and 2030, which is faster than the average occupation in America. In that period, there would be around 99,400 openings yearly.

The BLS also predicts that the healthcare sector will be at the forefront of management analyst employment. As a result of the aging population, healthcare is experiencing less efficient systems. Management analysts would be needed to offer efficient solutions.

The major beneficiaries of this growth will be small consulting firms that specialize in a particular area, such as human resources. Also, government bodies will require the services of management analysts to cut down spending and search for more efficient business solutions.

Steps to Becoming a Management Analyst or Consultant

These are the general steps you need to become a management analyst or consultant:

1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The minimum requirement for management analysts and consultants is a bachelor’s degree. Future management analysts should pursue a four-year degree in accounting, finance, business administration, or management. These programs give you an overview of statistical analysis, organizational behavior, and management theory. A bachelor’s degree in economics, information science, or accounting can get you started in management analysis.

2. Gain Experience

Management analyst or consulting roles require a solid grasp of business management and structures. Therefore, it is essential to have job experience before kickstarting your career. While pursuing a four-year degree, look for internship opportunities to boost your resume and give you a competitive edge upon graduation. Even after graduation, consider entry-level jobs. Many consulting firms have regular recruitment sessions where graduates can speak with employers and learn about entry-level positions.

Before management analysts qualify for senior roles, they typically need at least five years of experience. These are some avenues to gain the much-needed experience:

  • Internships

Entry-level jobs and internships are great ways to gain management analysis and consulting skills before venturing into higher roles. While studying for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, students should search for firms in the industry and inquire about internship positions.

Internships can be vital as they help you build valuable relationships with colleagues and mentors in the industry. These relationships can lead to future referrals or even hiring opportunities. Additionally, an internship in a management analyst or consulting role can help you learn more about the job demands in a low-risk scenario. Some large organizations also offer externships, basically a two-week program for interns to shadow professionals and gain hands-on experience.

  • Business Experience

Management analysts or consultants can specialize in virtually any area of business. For instance, a finance or accounting career gives professionals a background in revenue. Such experience can be crucial when revealing financial problems to clients. Also, market research analysts typically have to gather and analyze large amounts of data, so they can also blend seamlessly into management analysis roles.

  • Relationships

Relationships are essential to any career, and management analysis is no exception. Management consultants often get new clients from referrals from previous clients. As such, they need to build professional relationships with clients and colleagues alike.

You can find great networking opportunities at industry conferences and events. Here, professionals market themselves as influential analysts, leaving a good impression that may pave the way for future opportunities.

3. Earn A Master’s Degree

You do not need an advanced degree for entry-level management analyst roles. But professionals looking to climb up to senior positions do. A master’s degree positions you as a knowledgeable candidate for many jobs. Some government agencies and corporations will only consider those with advanced degrees. Some companies opt for candidates with higher levels of education over those who have work experience. An excellent degree to consider is a Master’s of Business Administration or any other closely related degree.

4. Join a Professional Organization

Professional organizations give you that extra edge to move your career forward. Joining a professional body like the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) can provide you with privileges such as access to advancement resources, networking opportunities, industry-related events, and continuing education.

What Education/Experience Do You Need To Become A Management Analyst?

Experience and educational requirements differ based on the level of management analysis you want to pursue. Generally, four levels of management exist. Let’s look at their academic and experience requirements:

Associate/Analyst

An entry-level position requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in management or any other related field. You need very little to no experience at this stage.

Management Consultant

At this level, you need a blend of experience and education. Many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field and at least four years of experience as a consultant.

Alternatively, a graduate degree and two years of relevant experience will suffice.

Project Lead

This role requires a graduate degree or its equivalent and seven years of consulting experience. Professionals with an undergraduate degree and ten years of consulting experience also qualify.

Principal/Partner

You will need a graduate degree and more than ten years of consulting experience for this stage. Although, you should note that not all jobs require a college degree. Some firms permit relevant work experience in place of a degree. Also, some self-employed management analysts start with no college degree.

How To Advance As a Management Analyst

After working as a management analyst, it is natural to think of advancement options. Here are some tips on how to climb the professional ladder as a management analyst:

Switch Industries

If you are looking for better pay, you might consider switching industries. The industry where one works plays a huge role in their salary. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that those who work in the professional, scientific, and technical services sectors earn the most. Those in company and enterprise management also make high salaries. A sizeable number of management analysts employed by consultancy firms make a base salary in addition to bonuses.

Choose A Specialization

Another way to move ahead in your career and earn better wages involves specializing. Professionals can choose a particular industry such as human resources, information technology, marketing, or healthcare and gain experience there. Specializing allows management analysts to increase their value and qualify for certain positions. Self-employment offers another viable option, as you can work independently.

Get Certified

Certifications qualify management analysts for senior, higher-paying roles. They demonstrate your skillset and competence to hiring managers and help you stand out among other applicants.

One credential to consider is the Certified Management Consultant (CMC), administered by the Institute of Management Consultants. The requirements include a bachelor’s degree and at least three years of working experience as a management analyst. Candidates have to sit for and pass both oral and written examinations.

Candidates with up to ten or twenty years of relevant experience can consider the Experienced and Management Certified Management Consultant credential.

Relocate

Another vital factor in remuneration for management analysts is geographical location. Some cities like Arlington, VA, Washington DC, San Diego, Atlanta, New York City and San Francisco pay the highest wages in the United States. Here is a breakdown of the average salary and other data for each city.

How Long Does it Take to Progress as a Management Analyst?

A talented analyst or consultant can shoot up the professional ranks from consultant to partner in as little as five years. But, that’s not often the case, as it takes years of diligence and hard work to move up the professional ladder.

Titles for Management Analysts

Despite the evolving demands of the profession, job titles for management analysts have remained the same over the years. However, many organizations offer interim titles in a new trend. Consultants earn these interim titles as they progress in their careers. For some companies, the titles are official, while they are temporary designations for others. Interim titles help to understand what point an analyst is in their progression.

It is also common to see analysts with titles that symbolize the number of years within that role. For instance, A2 refers to a second-year analyst and A1 to a first-year analyst. Alternatively, professionals can be called functional analysts, business leads, project managers, and IT leads.

Away from the newer designations, these are the more traditional job titles for management analysts:

Associates, Consultants, and Analysts

These professionals do the bulk of actual analysis in their different workflows. They design operational models, conduct research interviews, and gather data. Analysts and associates are required to work independently with little supervision.

Project Leader and Engagement Manager

Engagement managers spend the bulk of their time evaluating the workstreams of individual analysts, solving problems, and simplifying solutions into actionable steps. Their principal responsibility involves supervising analysts and ensuring that they receive all the training and support they need. When analysts encounter hurdles, project managers help them with tips to overcome the challenges. They also synergize the output of different workstreams and report to superiors on the progress of projects. In addition, they may spend time interacting directly with clients.

Principal

Principals eventually work their way into partners. They have many responsibilities, including informing partners about project progress, overseeing mid-level managers, managing clients, and reporting milestones, challenges, and findings to partners.

Partner

A partner’s primary responsibility is bringing new clients to the firm and managing the existing client base. The job is two-fold; keeping current clients satisfied and bringing in new business. Partners often engage with clients at different points, including sign-up, check-in, and final assessment meetings. A partner may also work with the management team. Still, the bulk of the work falls on the principal, who manages all communication streams and oversees other employees.

Next Step

Suppose you enjoy solving problems, analyzing situations, and developing creative solutions. In that case, a career as a management analyst or consultant might just be beckoning. You can find so many opportunities for advancement. The profession provides a platform to earn while helping businesses become more productive. Visit our education resource center for more careers like management analysis and learn more about the skills you need as a professional.

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