How to Become a Consultant - 2024 Guide

March 27, 2024
12 Minutes
Modified on:
March 27, 2024
Written by:
Swati Bucha
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Consultants provide expert advice in many areas, assisting enterprises and ordinary citizens with their problems, activity efficiency, and goals. According to Zippia, there are currently 610,454 consultants in the US.

Consultants come from various industries, including finance, marketing, medicine, and technology. Their expertise is based on their specific areas of knowledge. They are differentiated by the particular knowledge, skills, and experience that allow them to properly diagnose and provide beneficial suggestions for multifaceted situations. 

Are you curious about how to become a consultant? It usually starts with getting the right degree, acquiring relevant experience, and becoming competent in problem-solving and communication skills.

In this article, we will discuss how to become a consultant. Regardless of the consulting field you are interested in—management consulting, healthcare consulting, or another—the path to becoming a consultant relies on devotion, keeping yourself updated, and a passion for helping people succeed. 

How to Become a Consultant: A Step-by-Step Guide

Between 2018 and 2028, the number of consultant positions is expected to grow by 11%, and approximately 108,400 new jobs will become available. Consultant salaries have shot up by 8% during the last 5-year period. So, if you are willing to become a consultant, you are on the right track. Here are the steps for how to become a consultant:

Step 1: Identify Your Niche and Expertise

The first step in becoming a consultant is identifying your core strengths and expertise. Successful consultancy means identifying the area of expertise that is in demand. The healthcare and marketing consulting sectors are the fastest growing in the contemporary ones. Whether you are an extraordinary marketer, have an IT background, or are a finance manager, draw on these strengths and experiences. Conduct thorough market research to unveil profitable niches aligned with your passions and expertise. Meanwhile, build a strong network and skillfully execute self-marketing to symbolize your expertise.

Step 2: Gain Relevant Qualifications and Training

You must demonstrate expert knowledge to become an acknowledged authority in your consultancy field. Professional certifications are considered a sign of trust and one of the key strategies that help stand out in the competitive market. Identify those courses or added qualifications that are related to your field. 

For instance, a management consultant might pursue a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation, while an IT consultant could aim for a Microsoft Certification like Azure Solutions Architect Expert certificate. Continuous training remains your best option to learn about new developments and business methods. Qualification and certification are two major steps in becoming a consultant guide!

Step 3: Build Your Portfolio

Now, the third step of how to become a consultant deals with building an effective portfolio. Your consultant profile is not just a list of accomplishments; it is your story. It will allow you to demonstrate your expertise and earn credibility. This is how to create an effective portfolio for your reference:

  • Start with low-cost or pro-bono projects: In the early days of your consultancy campaign, remember to offer your services at a discounted rate or even pro-bono, which will be a good starting point. 
  • Showcase diversity in your work: Mention the range of your skills and experiences in the resume to show your skills through an effective presentation. As an illustration, if pursuing marketing consultancy, showcase a range of SEO, social media, and digital advertising campaigns. 
  • Incorporate testimonials and achievements: Testimonials and awards boost the credibility of the solution you will provide. Encourage endorsements from happy clients, highlighting distinctive competencies and productive outcomes. To help you organize your ideas, you can create an outline or a mind map. Social proof, such as positive reviews, which are very popular today, is often decisive in buying decisions.
  • Maintain portfolio relevance: Consultants should be flexible enough and take everything as it comes. While regularly incorporating fresh skills, training, and project works into the portfolio, you should ensure that these show growth in the consultancy industry nowadays.

Step 4: Effective Networking

Networking is the main factor of success for the consultancy. Forbes statistics show that about 80% of jobs are filled through networking, which suggests its enormousness. Conferences, seminars, and trade shows provide a great platform for sharing each other's experiences, obtaining industry insights, and building business networks. 

Digital networking sites, such as LinkedIn, open the door to online networking and allow you to connect with potential clients, participate in industry discussions, and promote yourself. Furthermore, you can gain access to valuable connections by using your current clients, past classmates, and other professionals in your industry as a referral source.

Step 5: Setting Up Your Business

The fifth step of how to become a consultant deals with building your business as a consultant. Starting your consulting business demands strategic planning and decisive actions, which are important. First, you must develop a well-thought-out business plan that sets the goals, target clients, services, pricing, marketing strategy, and financial forecast. Incorporating your business means selecting a suitable name and legal structure, whether an LLC or sole proprietorship. However, this will depend on your goals and the regulations you must comply with. 

You can get help from your business lawyer or accountant by involving them to get the right options tailored to your goals, liabilities, and tax implications. Remember that the pricing strategy should be based on expertise evaluation, cost coverage, and competitiveness, so you need to develop one. Consider using an hourly rate, a project-based fee, retainers, or a value-based pricing environment that fits your service and client choices.

Step 6: Marketing Your Services

The marketing function of your consultancy determines how far you will go in realizing your goals and reaching the targeted clients. Develop a strong brand message highlighting your product's distinctive features and powerful calls to action. You can opt for digital channels such as SEO and social media. Building a website will enhance your online exposure and help you reach a wider audience. 

Interact with prospects through LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and always keep yourself updated with the latest industry news. Develop an outstanding personal brand using webinars, articles, or podcasts. Measure and refine your marketing mix as time passes, which will help you acquire and retain clients at the optimum level.

Step 7: Collecting Payment

Consulting is not only about making a difference but also about managing a profitable business. Stable cash flow is the lifeblood of the business, so timely and seamless payment collection is a must. Efficiently handle your invoicing using professionally crafted, clear, and direct invoices to enable faster payments. Implement efficient yet effective software to automate invoice making and guarantee online delivery. 

Be sure to establish clear payment terms with clients. Include due dates, penalties for late payment, and accepted payment methods. Also, keep communication lines open so there are no unnecessary hitches in the payment process.

Understanding the Consultancy Market in the US

Marketing and healthcare consultants are leading areas amid the dynamic US consulting industry. In 2023, the number of marketing consultant businesses in the US totaled 296,930, a 5.3% increase from 2022. There are over 374,058 professionals in the field, which proves the high demand for marketing skills. 

Interestingly, the workforce breakdown in this industry is highly diverse, with 54% women and 46% men making up the population, thereby establishing an inclusive and equalizing work environment.

Healthcare consulting also shows a remarkable existence in the industry, with 22,857 firms representing 3.7% growth from 2022. The field's rapid development underlines the paramount significance of healthcare consultants as key players capable of solving intricate business challenges and advancing the healthcare industry.

On this note, let us now discuss how to become a marketing consultant and how to become a healthcare consultant in today’s world. 

How to Become a Marketing Consultant?

Do you have a strong desire to work as a marketing consultant? Well, you are choosing the right way. Let’s look at how you can become a marketing consultant: 

Step 1. Get a Qualification

Most marketing consultants typically have a degree, although not necessarily in marketing. Dig deep into your resources and pursue either a Bachelor's or Master's degree or explore online digital marketing courses to obtain expertise.

Step 2. Get Plenty of Work Experience

The second step of becoming a marketing consultant involves acquiring grassroots-level experience by employing different marketing strategies such as affiliate marketing, social media marketing, SEO, etc. Gain experience by starting from an entry-level position and steadily climbing the managerial ladder to create a strong base.

Step 3. Specialize (but Don't Overspecialize!)

Incrementally focus on particular marketing techniques or industries without being too niche, which may compel you to limit your career choices. Start with a wide approach that will help you as you mature and gain more experience and clients.

Step 4. Familiarize Yourself with Finances and Resourcing

One of the major steps in becoming a marketing consultant is knowing how to budget, account for financials, and use HR approaches to create marketing plans that fit each client's budget

Step 5. Keep Networking

Keep growing and diversifying your network using LinkedIn, industry meetings, workshops, and collaborative projects. To become a recognized specialist, offer your field knowledge through guest posts, interviews, or collaborations.

How to Become a Healthcare Consultant?

Here are the steps of how to become a healthcare consultant:

Step 1. Obtain Relevant Education and Training

The first step in becoming a healthcare consultant is obtaining relevant education and training. Obtain a Bachelor's degree in healthcare administration, public health, business management, or a specialization in a clinical discipline. Though you can take up an advanced MBA with a healthcare emphasis or a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA), you must consider your decision carefully. 

Get hands-on healthcare experience through internships or job placements in healthcare facilities and acquire credentials like Certified Healthcare Consultant (CHC) to establish yourself as an expert.

Step 2. Develop Specialized Skills and Knowledge

Gain versatile skills in healthcare operations, finance, strategic planning, data analysis, and regulatory compliance. Stay informed on industry trends and emerging technologies and track regulatory change.

Step 3. Gain Practical Experience in Healthcare Settings

Gaining experience in different healthcare settings, such as hospitals, clinics, or governmental agencies, will help you identify operational problems and improvement possibilities. Collaborate with multidisciplinary groups and work on projects on process improvement or regulatory compliance. This is one of the most significant steps in becoming a healthcare consultant.

Step 4. Build a Professional Network

Attend the various conferences, meetings, and networking programs to meet the professionals in the industry. Participate in the HIMSS or ACHE professional associations. 

Step 5. Launch Your Consulting Career

The last step of how to become a healthcare consultant deals with launching your career as a healthcare consultant. Work at a consulting company, set up your business, or get a job on a freelance basis. Create a portfolio concentrating on demonstrating your expertise, case studies, and client testimonials that will attract clients.


The road toward success as a consultant is full of hard work, relentless commitment to learning, and effective planning. The path remains the same whether you go into marketing consulting, healthcare consulting, or anything else. Getting the right education, doing the right internships, and working on skill-building are fundamental initial achievements. 

The fundamental elements of success are attaining a good professional network, learning and staying updated with the latest industry trends, and getting into the consulting field with courage and determination. Remember to always invest in knowledge and build your skills and network. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the minimum needed education to get the consultant position?

Successfully entering the consulting field requires particular credentials mapped to your expertise. A related degree or certification is sometimes an additional asset to prove your competence. A commerce, management, finance, or business degree can facilitate this. Moreover, earning certificates or undertaking special training in the profession would provide added weight to your consultancy and substantiate your credibility as a professional.

2. How do you build a strong client base as a consultant?

Attracting many clients involves network building and delivering the best outcome. You can do this by showing the area you are best in and delivering the best outcome. Leverage networking contacts, online forums, and referrals to present prospective clients to you. Other methods to pull clients you might consider include having a customized website and delivering superb service to your existing customers.

3. How do you determine consulting rates?

Building a consulting rate involves analyzing your particular level of knowledge, market demand, and industry standards and pricing your clients based on the value of what they get. You can also charge for your services best by doing market research, knowing your skills in this matter, and comparing rates charged by other consultants in your niche.

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