If you're thinking about becoming an independent consultant or contractor, one major question probably weighs on your mind: are my skills in high demand? Following are four high-demand areas for independent workers - but don't worry if your skills don't fall into one of these four categories, there are many other types of consulting.
Technology consulting has grown, due both in part to the growth of the project economy and the desire of some companies to entirely outsource their information technology. An IT consultant will often specialize in electronics, computer science, management information systems, or a related area.
As more industries shift to technologically advanced solutions, even industries that are considered relatively "low tech," IT consultants become more important. Whether it's developing a new type of customer database or programming a new website, this type of technical expertise will only continue to be a valuable asset to potential clients.
With a continually increasing focus on "green" business, recycling, and sustainability, environmental consultants and contractors now find themselves in higher demand than ever before. This field is very broad, encompassing anything from construction to government compliance. A wealth of opportunities exists for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) consultants, who can help individuals and businesses achieve LEED accreditation.
An environmental consultant will generally have an advanced degree in environmental science or environmental engineering, with extensive knowledge of environmental regulations.
Management consulting has been around for a very long time, and doesn't look to be going anywhere in the near future. What exactly does a management consultant do? That's a difficult question to answer - they do a little bit of everything.
A management consultant is generally brought into an organization to resolve an operational problem and/or enhance business efficiency. Management consultants come from a variety of educational and work backgrounds, although many have obtained an MBA. Common backgrounds for effective management consultants include economics, business, and mathematics, although that doesn't mean liberal arts majors can't go on to be successful management consultants.
A political consultant, also commonly known as a political strategist, assists and advises candidates in their political campaigns. This means that election season is the busiest time for a political consultant, although between elections consultants may be hired for their advice on communicating with the public. Political strategists have a major hand in developing media campaigns, although they may also be involved in voter polling and research.
Everyone Can be a Consultant
Independent consulting is a fast-growing, high demand field. Those who have the magic three ingredients below can feel confident that consulting is a career path to consider:
1. First, a unique skill (niche, industry-specific - just makes it better)
2. A strong network of contacts.
3. The ability to market yourself as an expert in your field (a blog, speaking engagements, an industry award or corporate recognition).
The final point is to be someone with greater references. If you consistently produce great work for your clients, your word-of-mouth reputation will lead the way. As Kelly Marshall, MBO Partners' Director of Associate Services says, "At MBO we support a wide variety of consultants across a large number of industries and they have all found a way to build a successful business."
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