What Does a Management Consultant Do?

Management consultant interacts with business owners

A tech company is having trouble understanding why its latest app is not selling. A university is struggling to appeal to international students. A shingle manufacturer has been hit with a discrimination lawsuit and must figure out how to transform its company culture.

What do all these organizations have in common? They can benefit from the services of a management consultant. What exactly does a management consultant do, and is it the right career choice for you? Explore this career guide to learn more about it.

What Is a Management Consultant?

A management consultant, also known as a management analyst, is a professional who provides consulting services to other companies. The mission is to analyze the various problems a company is experiencing and develop workable solutions that allow the company to overcome obstacles and thrive. As a management consultant, you may work on challenges such as poor revenue streams, improper fiscal management, human resources issues and undesirable company culture.

Management consultants often work for large consulting firms. However, some are freelancers who run their own sole proprietorship business, and others establish their own consulting companies with multiple employees.

Some management consultants specialize in working with organizations in a particular field. For instance, if you opt to pursue this career path, you might decide to specialize in working with higher education institutions, retail stores, restaurant chains, manufacturers or nonprofits.

It can be gratifying for a management consultant when they figure out how to solve the client’s problem. However, the job can sometimes be stressful, as the consultant’s responsibility is to ensure that their action plan brings the desired results. Management consultants must also travel frequently to meet with clients, give presentations and assist with implementing their recommendations.

A Look at a Typical Management Consultant Job Description

Management consultants are professional problem solvers who must embrace innovation, clearly explain their recommendations and lead others through organizational change. If you decide to become a management consultant, you likely will not have a “typical day.” Your responsibilities will depend on the particular needs of the organization you’re working with each day. In general, your day could include any of the following:

  • Travel to meet with clients as needed, and gather information about the problem the company is experiencing or the areas it needs to improve
  • Observe company procedures in action to assess stumbling blocks and identify areas for improvement
  • Interview company personnel about the issue at hand, identify their pain points and evaluate their processes
  • Analyze documentation, such as financial reports, expenditures and employment reports
  • Develop recommended solutions and improvements to help the organization become more efficient and effective, such as by recommending organizational changes, new systems or new policies
  • Conduct presentations and develop written reports to make recommendations to the company’s executive team

Sometimes, a company may request that the management consultant remain onsite to guide the implementation of the recommended changes. The consultant may work collaboratively with company managers to implement, evaluate and tweak those changes as needed.

How To Become a Management Consultant

If the typical management consultant job description appeals to you, it is time to consider how your career pathway might look. All management consultants are expected to have at least a bachelor’s degree. However, a bachelor’s degree often isn’t enough by itself.

It’s not unusual for these professionals to have a graduate degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a doctoral degree. Aspiring consultants often choose a degree that focuses specifically on business management.

The job of a management consultant is not an entry-level one. You should plan for at least a few years of work experience in the field first. In this regard, specializing in a particular area can work to your advantage.

For instance, if you plan to specialize in consulting with tech companies, then having some work experience in the tech field is ideal. Similarly, healthcare organizations might prefer to hire a management consultant who has previously worked as a healthcare administrator.

Although it’s not a requirement, earning a relevant certification is another way to give yourself an extra edge over the competition in the job marketplace. Look for a certification offered by a reputable professional organization. An example is the Certified Management Consultant (CMC®) credential offered by the Institute of Management Consultants USA (IMC USA).

However, you will not be eligible to earn the CMC® credential right away. First, you must demonstrate that management consulting activities have comprised a significant part of your job description for at least three of the past five years. You must also obtain letters of recommendation and successfully pass written and oral examinations.1

Earn a Doctorate in Management

Earning a doctorate in management can give you a competitive edge over other candidates, particularly since many management consultants only possess an MBA rather than a terminal degree. This idea begs the question: Which type of doctorate should you earn?

The two main choices are to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA). Both are terminal degrees, but there is a crucial difference. A PhD is a research-focused degree geared toward individuals who want to become college professors or researchers.

In contrast, a DBA is perfect for individuals who want to work directly in the field. It focuses on applying research and theories to solve real-world problems, making it the ideal degree for an aspiring management consultant.

A DBA in management prepares learners to tackle organizational challenges across industries. You will learn how to help companies navigate organizational change, and you’ll learn how to apply tactfulness and diplomacy when communicating the necessary adjustments to C-suite executives.

Like a PhD, a DBA requires the completion of a doctoral dissertation in addition to graduate-level coursework. You will conduct original research and then discuss your findings in your dissertation. Throughout the process, you’ll receive the close support and guidance of your primary dissertation advisor and your dissertation committee.

Is There a Demand for Management Consultants?

Based on its analysis of employment data and trends, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted a robust job growth rate for management analysts, also known as management consultants. As of September 2021, the BLS estimated an increase in job growth by about 14% from 2020 to 2030. This rate is faster than average, accounting for an estimated increase of 124,400 jobs in the field.2

You can work toward pursuing a rewarding career in management consulting when you enroll as a graduate student at Grand Canyon University. The College of Doctoral Studies is pleased to offer a range of DBA programs for corporate professionals, including the Doctor of Business Administration: Management (Qualitative Research) degree. Since the dissertation process is integrated within the coursework and on-campus residencies allow for meaningful interactions, learners will progress toward the pinnacle of academic achievement in their field.

Learn more about joining the dynamic and supportive doctoral learning community at GCU.


1 Retrieved from Institute of Management Consultants USA, How to Become a Certified Management Consultant® in July 2022.

2 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on September 2021, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Management Analysts

Approved by Dean of College of Doctoral Studies on Aug. 31, 2022.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.