The term consultant comes from the Latin consultare meaning, "to discuss", also giving us the words consul and counsel.
It’s most likely you’ve heard the term consultancy before, but what does it actually involve? Well, the chief component of the consultants role is to be able to both digest and understand large amount of information, often relating to complex or niche subjects areas, and then provide sound opinions and judgement on how the person employing the consultant should proceed – plenty then really!
Consultancy is currently a booming profession. The combination of challenging work and high-salaries means many university leavers earmark the profession for jobs straight after graduation. Nowadays, a whole host of consultancy firms exist selling their expertise to other firms or government bodies for projects relating to issues of HR, technology, the economy, accounting, engineering and many more areas beside.
The term consultancy has been around for many years, with doctors and lawyers frequently referred to by the term before it was recognised as its own profession.
Consultants will either work for a
dedicated consultancy firm, or be self-employed. If they work for a firm, they will either work for one that specialises solely in a certain area, such as IT, or for a larger firm that has divisions covering several areas, such as IT, finance, retail and media.
Freelance consultants are more likely to be those that have already been in the profession for some years, and have found an area they are particularly adept in. They can offer their service as a single person company, often commanding large sums of money in doing so… Not a bad way to earn a living then, eh?
A consultant will be employed by another company or public sector body to help provide expert opinion on business decisions that need to be made, or perhaps to consider a market and give advice on how a business should look to proceed in the coming years. If you like the thought of travelling then consultancy could also be for you. Firms are based around the country, with most in large cites, but due to the nature of the work consultants can often find themselves having to travel regularly, either commuting long distances to carry out their work or working away for periods at a time. You could build up a good knowledge of the best motorway service stations in the UK, as a by-product of the job! The south-east of England is something of a hub of smaller consultancy firms, possible due to seasoned professionals in key industries such as banking moving sideways in consultancy work, to leave a slightly less stressful life, while plundering their former colleagues still the profession for as much work as they can get.
This article was produced in association with Kingston University Careers & Employability Service