How To Become A Computer Consultant

An image of computer consultants for our FAQ on how do I become a computer consultant?

By CSDH Staff
May 2023

Computer consultants work in many roles within the IT industry. Because of their extensive knowledge, companies hire them to provide advice on technological needs. It is a promising career with a favorable job market and competitive average salary.

But to find computer consultant jobs you need specialized training and a degree. In this article, we discuss the steps you need to take to work as computer consultant professionals. If you’re interested in computer consultancy and how to find a computer consultant job, read on.

What is a Computer Consultant?

A computer consultant is an IT professional. But in this job, you specialize in a niche of IT. Within the specialty, you provide technical help and troubleshoot problems. You also configure solutions for hardware and software. You provide advice to companies about what technology they should use to meet their business needs.

Most computer consultants work in any field of information technology. They also work alongside many different industry professionals. You find computer consultants working with computer support specialists and hardware system installers. They also work with software programmers and networking specialists. Some client companies hire them as part of their management team.

Steps to Become a Computer Consultant

Becoming an IT consultant, or computer consultant, takes time and proper training. It is your education that can lead you toward a successful career. Here are three steps you need to take to land a computer consultant job.

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree
  • Get work experience
  • Become certified

Step 1: Earn a bachelor’s degree

The first step toward computer consultant jobs is to earn a degree. Most computer consultants have bachelor’s degrees at minimum. Computer consultants earn degrees in computer science or information technology. But you can also get a bachelor’s degree in information systems or business processes.

To gain knowledge in the many different areas of computers you need to know, aspiring computer consultants take different courses. Plan to take classes on operating systems and computer networks. You should also study topics in network systems architecture and information security.

Step 2: Get the necessary experience

Most tech companies look for computer consultants with one to seven years of work experience. The number of years required depends on the job level. For most management roles, you’ll need at least five years of work experience. But for entry-level computer consultant jobs, one to three years is good if you have the right skills and training.

While in college, aspiring computer consultants can get experience through internships. What makes a good internship? The opportunity to take part in meaningful work. A good internship allows interns to learn more about the career through close work with a mentor. You won’t find this experience at every company, but look for internships with mentorships. A good mentor will take an active role in your learning experience. They can also become an asset to your future career path.

If you don’t have access to internship opportunities, take on a volunteer role or shadow an industry professional. Both will give you insight into computer consultants roles.

An image of computer consultants for our FAQ on how do I become a computer consultant

Step 3: Get certified

Successful computer consultants get certified. It’s not required, but companies prefer candidates with professional certifications. A certification can make you stand out among your competition. But what certification do you need to work as an independent computer consultant?

There are different certifications you can choose. The most valued include:

  • Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP)
  • Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Certified Technology Consultant (CTC)
  • Microsoft Certified IT Specialist (MCITS)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)

Technology professionals advise others on how to use technology to meet their needs. So, you can see why a certification helps showcase your knowledge and your skills. A certification tells a potential employer that you are an expert in a particular area of technology.

Other Skills Needed for Computer Consultants

It doesn’t matter which specialty you choose to work, all computer consultants have certain skills. At least they need them to succeed in the role. Computer consultants should have good communication skills and meet deadlines with ease. They should know how to manage projects and work as team leaders. But they should also have specific technical skills such as:

  • Address computer problems with clients
  • Find and eliminate viruses and malignant software
  • Integrate software written by AI or other sources
  • Provide computer hardware diagnostics
  • Resolve technology issues and provide customer satisfaction
  • Troubleshoot computer system networks
  • Work alongside database specialists and respond to hardware questions

Pay for Computer Consultants

Consultants in the information technology world work in different areas of tech. Some work in networking, programming, or computer systems. Others work in technical assistance alongside software programmers. As a result, pay fluctuates. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the average computer consultant salary as $99,270/year.

Top-Paying Industries

But certain industries pay computer consultants higher wages than others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are five top-paying industries for computer consultants and analysts. These include:

  • Management of companies and enterprises: $100,340/year
  • Computer systems design and related services: $100,220/year
  • Finance and insurance: $99,340/year
  • Information: $97,230/year
  • Government: $80,040/year

Top-Paying States

Geographic location also impacts earnings. You can make higher wages as a computer consultant living in certain cities and states. Here are five top-paying states and the average computer consultant salary.

  • California: $129,330/year
  • Washington: $127,330/year
  • New Jersey: $123,690/year
  • Massachusetts: $121,100/year
  • Colorado: $119,020/year

Top-Paying Metro Areas

In certain cities, you can make good wages as a computer consultant. Sure, you have to take into consideration things like cost of living and commute. But some cities offer higher pay than others for this occupation. Here are five metro areas where the computer consultants rate of pay is high.

  • Barnstable Town, Massachusetts: $169,040/year
  • San Jose, California: $165,870/year
  • Idaho Falls, Idaho: $159,800/year
  • San Francisco, California: $146,520/year
  • Pittsfield, Massachusetts: $133,520/year

Top-Paying Non-Metro Areas

You don’t have to live in a big city to earn high earnings as a computer consultant. Certain non-metro areas also offer competitive wages and a higher average salary. These areas and corresponding computer consulting salary include:

  • Massachusetts nonmetropolitan area: $162,070/year
  • Coastal Plains region of Texas: $124,880/year
  • Northeast Virginia: $109,440/year
  • Southwest Colorado: $108,710/year
  • Northwest Colorado: $108,380/year

An image of a computer consultant for our FAQ on how to become a computer consultant

Job Outlook for Computer Consultants

The job growth for a computer consultant and analyst is favorable. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 9% growth in jobs for this occupation through 2031. This means now is a good time to go into computer sciences consulting.

There are about 44,500 job openings for analysts and consultants in computers projected each year, over the next eight years. This growth should occur because of the need to replace workers who retire or transfer. But there are also other reasons for the job growth.

Today’s businesses and organizations rely on information technology. They need consultants to help them install and operate new systems. They seek ways to cut costs and balance budgets in technology. To conserve assets and save company money, companies seek advice from consultants. They look for cost effective ways to use current technology and install new. Companies turn to a computer consultant for help.

Ways Computer Consultants Advance in their Career

Continuing education is the key to advancing your career as a computer consultant. As mentioned above, IT consultants have at least a bachelor’s degree. Most earn a master’s degree. It helps to have a certification or two under your belt. They can help you stand out above your colleagues and help you advance your career.

Another good way to advance is to brush up on your soft skills. What are soft skills? Examples of soft skills include:

  • Communication
  • Creative thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Team-building
  • Time management

These are skills employers look for in job candidates. They also value leadership skills when you can provide examples of how you manage and lead teams on the job. When you have a mix of technical and soft skills to offer, you can stand out among your competition.

Challenges Computer Consultants Face

Like any profession, consulting has challenges. The industry is competitive, and those who work hard have an easier time finding work than those who don’t. Successful consultants meet their client’s needs. They offer services that are valuable to a business. But they work long hours, sometimes receiving little gratitude.

Offsetting the challenges of the job is the pay. If you’re okay with being on call or sacrificing your weekends when emergencies arise for a hefty paycheck, then this job is a good fit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are common questions asked about computer consultant jobs, pros and cons of the occupation, and more.

Are there cons to becoming a computer consultant?

The biggest drawback in this career is the long hours. An IT consultant works day and night. They also work weekends. Since IT emergencies can happen at any time, you can expect to be on call. When emergencies arise, you’re the first person to get called.

Other drawbacks to working as a computer consultant include stress involved in moving to and from job locations. The more projects you handle, the more you have to move around to different job sites. Some in this role report having to move a couple times each month. This can cause stress

What are the pros of working as a computer consultant?

Technology consulting is an in-demand job. Because of this, it offers a high salary for qualified candidates. The biggest pro of becoming a computer consultant is the high pay.

Other pros for working in this career include:

  • High promotion and advancement opportunities
  • Expanding your technical background

You can also gain valuable experience in this job that you can use in any other technical capacity. Due to the short-term nature of each project, a consultant oversees a specific task for a few weeks or months. They accumulate experience in niche areas of technology.

An image of computer consultants for our FAQ on how to become a computer consultant

Can you earn a computer consultant degree online?

The short answer? Yes. You can earn an IT consultant degree online. There are many online programs in computer science, IT, and other related disciplines.

But it’s important to look for accredited programs that meet your needs. Programs are available from both private and public universities. Some online programs offer accelerated pacing, which means you can earn a bachelor’s degree in less than the standard four years it takes in a traditional program. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time in school, consider an online degree with this option. You can also earn a two-year or associate degree, and later go back to school or pick up a certification as an add-on.

How long does it take to earn a computer degree?

The length of time you spend in school depends on the type of degree you earn. A bachelor’s degree takes about four years to get. A master’s program takes another two years. Most computer science programs are four-year degrees. But some community colleges offer two-year, associate degree programs in IT or computers.

What other jobs can I get in IT or computers?

With a degree in IT or computers, becoming a computer consultant is only one option. There are many other jobs you can choose. Technology junkies with a degree in computer or IT can land roles such as:

  • Applications architect
  • Big Data engineer
  • Computer hardware engineer
  • Computer information systems analyst
  • Computer software engineer
  • Security analyst
  • Web developer

How much does a computer degree cost?

There are many factors that determine the cost of a degree. For starters, where do you plan to earn the degree? Private colleges, state universities, or community colleges vary in tuition costs. Financial aid also varies. Some students can attend a private university for less than a peer attending a state university, thanks to financial aid. But the average cost for a bachelor’s degree in 2023 is as follows:

  • Public, four-year institution: $25,707/year
  • Out-of-state tuition for public, four-year institution: $44,014/year
  • Private university: $54,501/year

Related Resources:

This concludes our article on computer science consultants and how to become one.