As a lucrative option for those interested in computer science, a computer consultant is a job that allows the worker to operate as an independent contractor, as well as have scheduling freedom to work when needed. Becoming a consultant in the area of computers requires standard training through college, as well as some ancillary training in areas like business. Anyone interested in a non-traditional role in the computer industry will want to think about a consulting job.
Education Required for Consultants
The level of education required for consulting depends upon the area in which a consultant wishes to specialize. Some college is a good idea because of the technical nature of the profession. An associate’s degree an important option for laying the educational foundation a consultant needs. A bachelor’s degree or advanced degree may also help a future consultant snag consulting jobs with more responsibility and more pay than simpler jobs.
Areas of study that are important for a computer consultant include software, hardware, business, marketing, and anything related to technology and computers. An associate’s degree in computer science is an option, as is a degree in information technology. For students in a bachelor’s degree program, a minor in business or marketing can be valuable because of the consultant’s need to market his or her talents to potential clients.
Other Important Tasks for Consultants
In addition to securing an appropriate education in the area of computers that interests a future consultant, one of the important aspects of building a consulting business is understanding how business, marketing, and self-promotion work. It may be beneficial for future consultants to take advantage of the resources from the Small Business Administration (SBA), which offers information, loans, and advice for small and fledgling businesses.
In addition, students may want to seek out membership in professional organizations such as the Professional Consultants Association (PCA).
Most importantly, consultants must remain up-to-date regarding current changes and inventions in computer technology. Consulting is an ever-changing business in that new problems consistently appear as technology changes.
Salary Expectations for the Consultant
Consultants in the computer industry may work in several departments and may focus on general information technology or in specific areas like networking, programming, or computer systems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that Computer Systems Analysts may earn over $90,000 a year with a job outlook rated as “faster than average.”
Challenges for the Consultant
Like any profession, consulting does have some challenges. The industry is a competitive one, and those who work hard and satisfy their clients will have a much easier time landing work than those who can’t give the client what he or she requests. As a consultant, it’s important to be able to offer services that are valuable to a business, as well as cost-effective. Some consultants command significant paychecks, but they can only do so when their clients are satisfied with the services rendered.
One of the best parts of becoming a consultant is that the job regularly changes as each new assignment is accepted. Anyone who enjoys changing environments on a regular basis will appreciate the diversity offered in a consulting position. Becoming a computer consultant offers the potential for impressive income, as well as professional growth through relationships made with new clients.