Are you interested in becoming a consultant? When you become a consultant, you have the opportunity to meet new people, gain experience working in different industries, and in many cases, you even get to be your own boss.
Making the decision to become a consultant can be both exhilarating and intimidating. To help you determine what it takes to become a consultant, we’ve listed the common questions and concerns of individuals interested in the consultant field.
What is a consultant?
A consultant is someone who decides to market themselves as a subject matter expert (SME). ‘Consulting’ is a broad topic. A consultant can work for a large consulting firm, or they can work for themselves as an independent contractor.
A consultant can be part of a long-term, large-scale project or they can offer temporary short-term support. The opportunities are endless for a consultant. The commonality between all consultants is that offer a specific skill for which they will work an agreed upon amount of time and then depart the organization.
What are the first steps to becoming a consultant?
The first step is to determine your “specialty”. What is the skill that you can offer? This may be a broad skill like data analytics, copywriting, social media marketing, and project management or a specific data solution like Salesforce, UKG, or Paycom.
Where do I find clients?
There are so many ways to find clients. You can reach out to your network first. There are also websites that allow clients to post their needs and consultants can create a pitch to earn their business. One of the best ways to begin your consulting career is to partner with an established consulting company like Slate Professional Resources, who will subcontract you for a project.
How do consultants get paid?
There are many ways to structure your compensation – this is mostly determined by who ‘owns’ the contract. If you are directly contracted with a client, then you get to negotiate the terms of payment (weekly, monthly, half up front, etc.).
If you are subcontracted by a consulting company, an established payment frequency will most likely already be in place. Then you can either bill your hours based on the project or based on the hours you worked – it all depends on what works best for you, your client, and the consulting company.
What is required to be a consultant? What degree or credentials do I need to be a consultant?
Almost everyone has the skills and resources to be an independent consultant. Although there is no degree or certification to establish yourself as a consultant, you do need to make sure you market yourself to potential clients, employers and consulting companies. Your past projects, years of experience, or a certification related to your specialization will add to your credibility, increase your chances of getting hired, and boost your profile as an established, professional independent contractor.
What kind of benefits will I receive as an independent consultant? Is it better to be a 1099 or W-2 Employee?
As an independent consultant, you are usually not a W2 employee, because you are your own boss. As a 1099 employee, you can advocate for yourself when it comes to billable hour negotiations, how many vacation days you’d like, and your working hours. If you value freedom, flexibility, and time, then this job could be a great match for you.
Typical benefits from an employer like health care and retirement plans are usually not included in a job offer when you are an independent contractor or a 1099 employee. These benefits are more common for a consultant or full-time employee working as a W-2 employee. The good news is, having your own health benefits and retirement plan might work in your favor – just consult with a tax professional and they can explain how this works.
If you’re interested in becoming your own boss, working with new people, and lending your subject matter expertise as an independent consultant, reach out to one of Slate Professional’s recruiters to see where your talents can be utilized.