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As business becomes more complex and national economies become more intertwined, companies continually face new challenges.  They often rely on management consultants to help them stay competitive in a changing world.  Consultants analyze an organization's structure, efficiency, or profitability, and propose various methods to improve them.

For instance, a business might employ an inventory control consultant to help put into place a just-in-time inventory management system.  In another instance, a large firm that has just acquired another company might hire management consultants to help reorganize its management structure, with a view to eliminating duplicate or superfluous jobs.  In recent decades, information technology and e-commerce have provided new consulting opportunies; companies often hire consultants to help them enter, and remain competitive, in the online marketplace.

consultants discussing a consulting project A management consultant might be a single practitioner or part of a large consulting firm that employs many consultants.  Some consultants specialize in specific industries such as banking, health care, or retail, while others specialize in certain business functions, such as marketing, human resources, or information systems.  In government work, many consultants focus on certain types of agencies.  Consulting work varies between projects, and also depends on the requirements of each client or employer.  Some projects require consulting teams, drawing consultants from different areas of specialization.  Other projects require consultants to work closely with an organization's managers.  In every instance, consultants collect, review, and analyze information in order to develop and present management recommendations.

Educational requirements for management consultants vary.  For entry level positions, a bachelor's degree may suffice, but for more senior positions, a master's degree or specialized expertise may be required.  Employment of consultants and management analysts is expected to grow more rapidly than the average employment growth for all occupations.  However, the consulting field is very competitive because the interesting and challenging nature of the work, with its high earnings potential, makes this occupation attractive to many experienced professionals.

For more information about management consulting and available careers, visit the Association of Management Consulting Firms and the Institute of Management Consultants USA.

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