Thinking of starting a consulting job? There are countless types of consulting roles in dozens of different industries. With the right skills and experience, you could be well on your way to becoming a consultant.
Whether it’s a full-time job or a side hustle that generates some extra cash, a consulting business can be a gratifying and lucrative job. It allows you to:
- Be your own boss
- Target an industry you’re passionate about (and have experience in)
- Keep things interesting by tackling diverse challenges
We’ll go a little more into the pros and cons of starting your own consulting business below. First, let’s identify what consultants do and why they’re important.
What is consulting?
Consultants specialize in helping clients resolve their company’s most urgent problems, issues, or projects. They work across a huge range of roles and industries and share their gift of analyzing information and identifying the best path for each company to take.
Consultant can work on a project-by-project basis or for months or years as a contractor. Consultants can also have as many clients as they have the capacity for.
What are the pros and cons of becoming a consultant?
Like any career, consultant jobs come with highs and lows. Every business you work with will provide you with different, and often contrasting, experiences.
The pros of a consulting business
- It’s challenging and rewarding: If you start a consulting business, every day may throw new challenges your way. These challenges pay off, with rewarding experiences in dragging a business out of a slump and setting it up for the future. Plus, the success you have with each project contributes directly to your personal brand.
- It’s fast-paced and you get a sense of freedom: Consultants are often hired in desperate times to rectify a serious situation. The consulting industry is fast-paced and perfect for someone who enjoys a challenge, and a sense of freedom.
- You’ll be constantly learning: Business consultants are experts in their field. They must always be learning and adapting to industry trends. This enables them to help businesses (including themselves) to stay ahead of their competitors.
The cons of a consulting business
- Income instability: There is a certain air of instability when working as a consultant. You never really know when or where your consulting service is going to be required next.
- There’s constant change: You might be required to uproot and move across states, or travel across the country to suit clients. You may also need to consistently drive to different locations to work with clients directly.
Weighing the pros and cons allows you to understand if being an independent consultant is best for you. Building a profitable consulting business is hard work, so if you’re not sure, try it out as a side hustle first!
21 types of consulting jobs
Below are 21 different types of consulting jobs, along with example roles in each category where applicable.
- Strategy consulting
- Marketing consulting
- Operations consulting
- Management consulting
- Financial consulting
- HR consulting
- Compliance consulting
- IT/ Technology consulting
- Legal consultant
- Social media consultant
- Sustainability consultant
- Sales consultant
- Wellness/Fitness consultant
- Growth Marketing consultant
- Career coaching consultancy
- PR consultancy
- SEO consulting
- Leadership consulting
- Product development consulting
- Design consultant
- Brand consultant
1. Strategy consulting
Starting with one of the broadest types of consulting, strategic consultants assist with the upper-level decision-making in a business.
Since this is a broad role, it can fit in a variety of sectors. The more specific the role, the more the title will change. Some examples are:
- Financial Strategy Consultant
- Environmental Strategy Consultant
- Business Strategy Consultant
Experience needed: Depending on what task or issues a strategy consultant is tackling, the prerequisites will vary. Having an MBA or Bachelor of Commerce/Business is a great first step, along with 5+ years of strategy experience in various industries. Having experience with consulting firms like McKinsey and Ernst helps get exposure to business problems.
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2. Marketing consulting
Marketing is a very broad field of work, making it a bountiful option for consultants. From email marketing to paid acquisition to content production, there are a ton of areas that marketing consultants can assist with. Overall, marketing consultants develop new strategies to help companies better target or convert their key demographic.
For example, maybe a company needs to restructure its email onboarding campaigns to increase conversions. Or, it’s been running unprofitable ads for months and, needs to rework ongoing ad campaigns. Below are a few examples of marketing consulting roles that may pique your interest:
- Email Marketing Consultant
- Paid Acquisition Consultant
- Content Marketing Consultant
Check out some marketing consulting logos made with the Looka logo maker!
Experience needed: Having a Bachelor’s in Marketing/Communications is the ideal first step in becoming a marketing consultant, but it often comes down to your work experience. Your degree, diploma, or certificate is often outweighed by your experience and drive to learn. As long as you have the required prior marketing experience (with examples to point to), you’ll be set up for success.
Example: Check out Amy Porterfield, a marketing consultant with various strategies and courses on marketing for business owners.
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3. Operations consulting
Another broad type of consulting is operations. An operational consultant uses data and research to help an organization streamline its operations, and/or enhance its operational performance.
For example, they could be tasked to help reduce costs, increase business efficiency, or improve company productivity. They may also be brought in to focus on the operations of individual teams. A few operations consulting roles are:
- Marketing Operations Consultant
- Sales Operations Consultant
- HR Operations Consultant
- Operation Management consultants
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Experience needed: People in this line of consulting must have a proven record of improving operations within a company — ideally multiple companies. You must also be very comfortable with research and data analytics, so coming from an Economics, Finance, or Business background will likely be helpful.
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4. Management consultant
Management consultants analyze businesses and create solutions to help them achieve their goals. They may provide organizational change management assistance, coaching skill development, process analysis, technology implementation, strategy development, and operational improvement services. With their industry expertise, they offer diverse perspectives to help clients enhance their businesses.
Experience needed: Management consultants have at least a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business, economics, or a related field. Having experience in a management or strategy role for a few years is highly beneficial. Strong analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills are essential for success in this field.
5. Financial consulting
Helping businesses manage their finances more effectively is a highly sought-after service. People in this role identify cutbacks to improve profit, or simply protect, restructure, or maximize a company’s bottom line.
Small businesses often hire a professional financial consultant to set up their financial strategy. On the flip side, larger corporations may get into a sticky situation and need outside finance advice to help set them on the right path.
A few specific financial consulting roles are:
- Economic Consultant
- Foreclosure Consultant
- Fundraising Consultant
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Experience needed: Unlike some of the other roles mentioned above, financial consultants will need to have some sort of educational foundation, such as a Bachelor’s or Masters’s in Finance, or their CFA accreditation.
Example: Sallie Krawcheck created a consulting firm called Ellevest to help women plan financially. Bola Sokunbi uses a large social following to gain customers and grow her influence as a financial consultant.
6. HR consulting
Human resources consultants support businesses through training and development, recruitment, maintaining employee satisfaction, and conflict resolution techniques.
Overall, human resources consulting deals with people — so good people skills are a must. A few examples of HR consultants are:
- Healthcare Management Consulting
- Compensation Consultant
- Recruitment Consultant
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Experience needed: Depending on the type of HR consulting that a company is hiring for, the requirements of the candidate will vary. Not all individuals in this line of work will have an educational background in HR, but many end up taking courses and training to build up their knowledge and certifications.
Example: Rescript consulting is a trio of HR consultants with varying strengths that lean on each other to solve complex client problems.
7. Compliance consulting
Ensuring your business is adhering to federal and local laws and regulations is an important part of being a business owner. Especially when laws around data privacy, AI, and sustainability are slowly being passed. A wealth of knowledge of local and federal laws is a must for any compliance consultant.
Sure, it sounds a little boring, but it’s important for businesses to be set up for success when it comes to complying with laws!
Experience needed: People who want to get into compliance consulting are usually required to have a Bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business administration or law. Experience in the law and current legislature is a must.
8. Technology / IT consulting
A technology consultant is hired to ensure a company’s software and technology aren’t hindering its productivity. If it is, the consultant will recommend and implement changes to improve things. IT consultants could be hired for anything from software management to data analytics. These individuals are also key in helping organizations implement new technology to stay secure and competitive in the market!
Some example IT consultant / Technology consultant roles are:
- Software Implementation Consultant
- Cyber Security Consultant
- Field Technical Consultant
Experience needed: Since IT and technology consulting is a technical field, those in this line of work have educational backgrounds in computer technology. Overall, these consultants need to have vast experience and knowledge of computers and software, both old and new.
9. Legal consultant
Larger companies will usually have their own internal lawyers or a law firm on contract, while many medium and small businesses don’t need someone full-time.
Whatever the reason, when a legal consultant is called in, it’s their job to ensure the company is aware of all legalities and present a solution on how to move forward. It requires a lot of research, focus, and experience to provide the best information to their clients.
Experience needed: Due to the nature of this role, a person with a degree in business law is required to ensure their potential clients don’t fall foul of any laws surrounding their business.
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10. Social media consultant
A part of the larger marketing category, social media consultants are a relatively new area of consultancy. A social media consultant ensures a business is doing all it can to drive potential customers to its website via its social media channels.
Check out some social consulting logos made with the Looka logo maker!
Experience needed: social media consultants are often self-made or have gained their experience from work. Since the social media landscape and algorithms are constantly changing, someone in this line of consulting should always have their finger on the pulse of each platform.
Example: Taylor Loren creates social strategies, content, and social systems to help businesses grow online. She also sells the templates and courses she makes as an extra income flow!
11. Sustainability consultant
These days, sustainable businesses must ensure they meet all manner of environmental regulations. A sustainability consultant might be someone with a Bachelor in Environmental Science who can help a business be more sustainable by identifying ways to reduce its carbon footprint and take on more sustainable practices.
Experience needed: Sustainability is a broad type of consulting that covers many niches. A sustainability consultant might have a background in environmental policy or law or a business education with a passion for eco-conscious business development.
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Examples: Powerhouse consultancy firms like Watershed are a great team of existing consultants to join or follow. But, for smaller businesses or entrepreneurs looking to be sustainable, a one-person show like The Greener Good is a great example of a solo sustainability consultant.
12. Sales consultant
Sales consultants have a wide range of skills that help drive a business’s revenue. This can range from helping incentivize the sales team to improving the sales process on the customer’s side. A sales consultant is a communication, relationship, and negotiation expert.
Experience needed: Similar to marketing, securing a sales consultant role requires proven experience and records of surpassing sales targets, and maintaining large books of business. In this role, experience outweighs a formal sales education.
Example: Taylor Mccarthy uses his Instagram account to grow his influence as a sales expert and consult as a sales trainer.
13. Wellness/Fitness consultant
A fitness consultant is so much more than a personal trainer. They often hold degrees in nutrition or sports science and can help their potential clients implement fitness programs on a company-wide or personal level.
Check out some wellness consulting logos made with the Looka logo maker!
Experience needed: Generally speaking, wellness consultants need to hold a certificate in their specialty — be it nutrition, personal training, or health coaching.
Example: For mental health, Micheline Khan created Althea CEO to provide therapy to workforces in any industry.
For physical health: Neha Paihar consults workplaces on health and physical wellbeing. A growing industry in today’s distributed digital world!
14. Growth marketing consultant
A newer type of consulting that falls within the marketing umbrella is the growth marketing consultant. This is a relatively new term, but the premise is simple: these consultants help to grow and scale a company through “growth marketing” efforts.
Examples would be, finding and scaling new channels for acquisition, or finding ways to improve the overall marketing funnel to increase conversions.
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Example: Neil Patel built an NP monogram logo to encompass his consulting business.
15. Career coaching consultancy
Sometimes people hit walls in their life and end up stuck in a job or career path they don’t want to be in. A career coaching consultant can help people identify their skills and passions, and what type of career they’d flourish in.
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Experience needed: Personal development consultants work closely with their clients and help them develop strategies and techniques to improve aspects of their personal lives. This role relies heavily on relevant experience and a solid framework of discovery and growth for each client.
16. PR consultancy
A PR consultant can help extend the reach of a company’s presence and improve the public’s view of a company. They help shape what people think about a business’s products or services, employees, or ownership.
PR consultants are usually tasked with writing and pitching press releases, building campaigns, working with media and influencer partners, conducting or setting up interviews, etc.
Experience needed: A degree or diploma in public relations is helpful, but public relations is largely about who you know. So, the stronger your network within a given industry, the more strings you have to pull in spreading awareness, and thus the more successful you’ll be as a PR consultant.
17. SEO Consulting
People who run SEO consultancies have an expert level of knowledge of search engines and how to help their clients’ websites and content rank. SEO consultants are often hired to help grow traffic, backlinks, and domain authority of a brand’s website. This is very important for businesses that operate in the digital sphere, as they work to beat out their competition.
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Experience needed: To be an SEO consultant, you must have 5+ years of experience in digital marketing, strong data analysis skills, and be constantly up to date with the latest search engine algorithm changes.
Example: Digital Sisco is as SEO consulting business that provides top to bottom SEO services.
18. Leadership consulting
Leadership consultants will often mentor executive team members looking to build their leadership skills. These consultants have a reputable background and years of experience that they bring to the table. They are experts in strategy, corporate communication, and running successful, high-growth teams.
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Experience needed: To be a leadership consultant, you’ll need to have a proven track record in your industry as well as a strong personal brand. Leverage platforms like Linkedin and YouTube to promote your services and discuss learnings from your own business experiences.
19. Product development consulting
Consultants specializing in product development wear multiple hats. They are responsible for learning your customer’s needs. Product developers work between development teams, design, marketing, and leadership to create a streamlined approach to developing a new product.
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20. Design consultant
One of the more creative types of consulting, businesses will hire design consultants for several different things, including:
- Interior Design Consultant
- Retail and Commercial Space Designer
- Graphic Design Consultant
- Real Estate Staging
Design consultants help to bring the aesthetic and personality of a vision to life. Whether responsible for the look of physical spaces, or digital ones, design consultants will have a deep understanding of color, shape, texture, visual hierarchy, and more. This work is important as it keeps a potential customer feeling inspired and excited by the atmosphere of a space or product.
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Experience needed: Most design consultants will have an arts education background or relevant experience in the field. As a design consultant, it’s important to have a portfolio with examples of your work and style.
21. Brand consultant
Brand consultants create strategic plans and innovative solutions to enhance brand visibility and customer engagement. Their expertise lies in creating, developing, and executing brand marketing initiatives that align with business goals and values.
Key responsibilities of brand consultants include:
- Market research to identify target audiences,
- Analyzing competitors’ strategies,
- Defining brand identity and messaging,
- Designing marketing campaigns for new markets or repositioning existing ones,
- Creating a logo design and branded packaging.
Experience needed: These professionals typically have extensive marketing backgrounds, with most possessing at least 5 years of industry experience. Their expertise and insights are invaluable in steering businesses towards growth and success.
Example: Monday Creative’s Amanda Smith started a brand consulting studio to develop and refresh outdoor brands.
What type of consultant should you be?
To decide what type of consulting to pursue, identify what you’re best at and most interested in!
To be the best consultant ever, you’ll need to be adept at the following:
- Commercial awareness: To be a successful consultant, you need to know what’s commercially successful in your area of choice.
- Clear communication: You should be fluent in your niche’s jargon. If you’re unable to communicate with people at every level of the business using industry-specific terms, it’s not the right niche for you.
- Integration at all levels: A good consultant can offer support at every level of the business, so, in-depth knowledge of the industry is essential.
Ready to start your consultancy career?
If you’ve read through this guide, and have found a type of consulting that fits, you need to start thinking about branding and setting up your business. It’s not official until you make it official!
Below are some next steps for launching your consulting business, with a few helpful links to get you started.