Management consultants work with organisations to solve problems, increase efficiency, and develop and implement strategies. They may also manage or carry out projects instead of staff.
Management consultants usually earn
$50K-$250K per year
Pay for management consultants varies depending on their skills and experience, and the organisation they work for.
- Graduates usually start on about $50,000 a year.
- Experienced management consultants can earn up to $250,000.
- Highly skilled management consultants may earn more than this.
Pay for self-employed management consultants depends on the success of their business. Because they do contract work they need to plan for fluctuating income.
Source: Careers New Zealand research, 2017.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information.)
What you will do
Management consultants may do some or all of the following:
- meet with clients, attend management and board meetings
- discuss the problems or issues they are being consulted about
- write project details, objectives, work plans and progress reports
- work with and interview clients about their business issues
- research solutions
- build capability within an organisation
- provide clients with solutions and strategies to apply them, such as improving an organisation's ability to innovate, improving processes and operations, and introducing digital platforms and technology
- provide clients with resources, such as running interviews.
Some management consultants also take short-term management or project roles within client organisations.
Management consultants who are self-employed also need to develop, market and run their business.
Skills and knowledge
Management consultants need to have:
- specialist knowledge of the field in which they work
- knowledge of relevant laws
- knowledge of business and technology systems
- interviewing and research skills
- management and leadership skills
- change management skills
- relationship management skills.
- can work long hours, including evenings and weekends
- may have to work in stressful situations, including making hard decisions
- work in their own and their clients’ offices
- often travel to meet with and work with clients.
What's the job really like?
How do you get your clients?
"Mostly through referrals. Most people will not use a consultant unless they are a big name, or it's somebody they have used before or is personally recommended to them.
"A client may identify a potential consultant to use through a website or LinkedIn but is unlikely to hire that person or company without a recommendation from someone."
"Largely because of the trust required. It's interesting – there are certifications for consultants and there are qualifications you might look for, but what matters most is reputation."
What's the biggest challenge?
"It's always a challenge to continue professional development. When you provide management advice to senior executives, CEOs, Boards – the basic management theory is well known to those people.
"A consultant has to offer an insight that is different from what those people would come up with, so it's important to continue professional development to encourage a level of insight and freshness and that's not cheap.
"If you're doing that sort of work you need time to develop tools, methodologies, case studies, that sort of thing and you need time for marketing."
- Constant pressure to perform – I find that quite satisfying.
- It allows me the flexibility to spend time with my family.
- Not having a predictable income stream.
- Consulting can be a very lonely profession.
There are no specific entry requirements to become a management consultant. However, a Bachelor of Commerce is usually needed to enter a graduate programme with a medium to large consultancy firm.
Management consultants may become members of the Institute of Management Consultants New Zealand (IMCNZ) and apply for Certified Management Consultant (CMC) certification, which is recognised internationally. IMCNZ offer mentoring and training to young, aspiring management consultants.
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include English, mathematics, accounting, economics and technology.
Management consultants need to be:
- fast learners
- analytical, with problem-solving skills
- self-motivated and able to deal with a fast-paced work environment
- resilient and able to cope with stress
- excellent communicators who can relate to people at all levels
- methodical, organised and good at time management
- able to work alone and in a team, but also provide leadership and motivation.
With consulting a lot of it is about the right advice at the right time. Having somebody who can come in at short notice and perform a complex but relatively brief piece of work, to provide an organisation with the confidence to move forward – or sometimes to stop something. There is a lot of pressure and it’s not right for a lot of people.
Useful experience for management consultants includes:
- a senior role in a specific field
- work in an organisation that does consulting
- work in a project team.
Find out more about training
- Institute of Management Consultants New Zealand
- 09 827 7266 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.imcnz.org
What are the chances of getting a job?
Chances improve with experience
A good way to enter the job is to apply for graduate programmes at medium to large consultancy firms or approach employers directly. Entry-level management consultants usually work under a mentor to gain experience.
Some management consultants work within an industry to gain experience and insights before transitioning into a management consultant role in that field.
Chances of getting work improve if you can work flexible hours and varying contract lengths.
Types of employers vary
Management consultants are usually self-employed, own a share of a business, or work for medium to large consulting firms. They work for private business and for government organisations.
Management consultants are usually employed by organisations that are:
- lacking in experience, capability or resources for business planning and projects
- undertaking a large building or expansion project
- wanting to improve performance, efficiency, processes and customer satisfaction
- innovating and adopting new digital strategies and technology
- changing and developing the culture of their organisation
- downsizing or merging.
There is an increasing demand for management consultant services as organisations respond to change.
- Careers New Zealand research, March 2017.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
- Rogers, N, president, Institute of Management Consultants New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, March 2017.
- Suckling, S, management consultant, self-employed, Careers New Zealand interview, March 2017.
Progression and specialisations
Management consultants working for large consulting businesses may progress into management or partnerships. Some may start their own business.
Last updated 16 June 2017