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Nature of the Work
* About 45 percent of these workers were self-employed, almost three times the average for other executive, administrative, and managerial occupations.
* A master's degree and at least five years' specialized experience generally are required for jobs in the private sector.
Management analysts and consultants analyze and suggest solutions to management problems. For example, a rapidly growing small company may need help in designing a better system of control over inventories and expenses and decides to engage a consultant who is an expert in just-in-time inventory management. In another case, a large company which realizes its corporate structure must be reorganized after acquiring a new division brings in management experts to restructure the company and eliminate duplicate and non-essential managerial positions. These are just some of the many organizational problems that management analysts, as they are called in government agencies, and consultants, as business firms refer to them, help solve.
The work of management analysts and consultants varies with each client or employer and from project to project. For example, some projects require a team of consultants, each specializing in one area; at other times, consultants work independently with the organization's managers. In general, analysts and consultants first collect, review, and analyze information. They then make recommendations to management and may assist in the implementation of their proposal.
Both public and private organizations use consultants for a variety of reasons. Some don't have the internal resources needed to handle a project, while others need a consultant's expertise to determine what resources will be required, and what problems may be encountered, if they pursue a particular opportunity.
Firms providing consulting services range in size from a single practitioner to large international organizations employing many thousands of consultants. Some analysts and consultants specialize in a specific industry while others specialize by type of business function, such as human resources or information systems. In government, management analysts tend to specialize by type of agency. Consulting services often are provided on a contract basis. To engage a consultant, a company first solicits proposals from a number of consulting firms specializing in the area in which it needs assistance. These proposals include the estimated cost and scope of the project, staffing requirements, references from a number of previous clients, and a completion deadline. The company then selects the best proposal for its needs.
Upon getting an assignment or contract, consultants or management analysts define the nature and extent of the problem. During this phase of the job, they analyze pertinent data such as annual revenues, employment, or expenditures and interview managers and employees while observing their operations.
The analyst or consultant develops solutions to the problem. In the course of preparing their recommendations, they take into account the nature of the organization, the relationship it has with others in that industry, and its internal organization and culture. Insight into the problem may be gained by building and solving mathematical models.
Once they have decided on a course of action, consultants report their findings and recommendations to the client, often in writing. In addition, they generally make oral presentations regarding their findings. For some projects, this is all that is required. For others, consultants assist in the implementation of their suggestions.
Management analysts in government agencies use the same skills as their private-sector colleagues to advise managers on many types of issues, most of which are similar to the problems faced by private firms. For example, if an agency is planning to purchase personal computers, it must first determine which type to buy, given its budget and data processing needs. Management analysts would assess the various types of machines available by price range and determine which best meets their department's needs.
Management analysts and consultants usually divide their time between their offices and their client's site. Although much of their time is spent indoors in clean, well-lighted offices, they may experience a great deal of stress as a result of trying to meet a client's demands, often on a tight schedule.
Typically, analysts and consultants work at least 40 hours a week. Uncompensated overtime is common, especially when project deadlines are near. Since they must spend a significant portion of their time with clients, they travel frequently.
Self-employed consultants can set their workload and hours and work at home. On the other hand, their livelihood depends on their ability to maintain and expand their client base. Salaried consultants also must impress potential clients to get and keep clients for their company.
Management analysts and consultants held about 244,000 jobs in 1996. Around 45 percent of these workers were self-employed. Most of the rest worked in financial and management consulting firms and for Federal, State, and local governments. The majority of those working for the Federal Government were found in the Department of Defense.
Management analysts and consultants are found throughout the country, but employment is concentrated in large metropolitan areas.
Educational requirements for entry-level jobs in this field vary widely between private industry and government. Employers in private industry generally seek individuals with a master's degree in business administration or a related discipline and at least 5 years of experience in the field in which they hope to consult. Most government agencies hire people with a bachelor's degree and no work experience as entry-level management analysts.
Many fields of study provide a suitable educational background for this occupation because of the wide range of problem areas addressed by management analysts and consultants. These include most areas of business and management, as well as computer and information sciences and engineering.
Most entrants to this occupation have, in addition to the appropriate formal education, years of experience in management, human resources, inventory control, or other specialties . The value of this experience enables many to land consultant positions, since most prospective clients now demand experience in the area where they feel they need help.
Management analysts and consultants often work with little or no supervision, so they should be self-motivated and disciplined. Analytical skills, the ability to get along with a wide range of people, strong oral and written communication skills, good judgment, the ability to manage time well, and creativity in developing solutions to problems are other desirable qualities for prospective management analysts and consultants.
Consulting teams are becoming more common. The team is responsible for the entire project and each consultant on the team is assigned to a particular area.
As consultants gain experience, they often become solely responsible for a specific project full-time, taking on more responsibility and managing their own hours. At the senior level, consultants may supervise lower-level workers and become increasingly involved in seeking out new business. Those with exceptional skills may eventually become a partner or principal in the firm. Others with entrepreneurial ambition may open their own firm.
Analysts and consultants routinely attend conferences to keep abreast of current developments in their field.
A high percentage of management consultants are self-employed, partly because business start-up costs are low. Self-employed consultants also can share office space, administrative help, and other resources with other self-employed consultants or small consulting firmsthus reducing overhead costs. Many such firms fail, however, because of an inability to acquire and maintain a profitable client base.
The Institute of Management Consultants (a division of the Council of Consulting Organizations, Inc.) offers the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation to those who pass an examination and meet minimum levels of education and experience. Certification is not mandatory for management consultants to practice, but it may give a job seeker a competitive advantage.
Employment of management analysts and consultants is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2006 as industry and government increasingly rely on outside expertise to improve the performance of their organizations. Growth is expected in very large consulting firms, but also in smaller niche consulting firms whose consultants specialize in specific areas of expertise. For example, some consultants specialize in biotechnology, pharmacy, engineering, or telecommunications. Clients increasingly demand a team approach, which enables examination of a variety of different areas within the organization; this development may hinder individual practitioners.
Increased competition has forced American industry to take a closer look at its operations. As international and domestic markets become more competitive, firms must use resources more efficiently. Management consultants are being increasingly relied upon to help reduce costs, streamline operations, and develop marketing strategies. As businesses downsize, opportunities will be created for consultants to perform duties that were previously handled internally. Businesses attempting to expand, particularly into world markets, frequently need the skills of management consultants to help with organizational, administrative, and other issues. Continuing changes in the business environment also are expected to lead the demand for consultants to incorporate new technologies, and to adapt to a changing labor force. As businesses rely more on technology, there are increasing roles for consultants with a technical background, such as engineering or biotechnology, particularly when combined with an MBA.
Federal, State, and local agencies also are expected to expand their use of management analysts. Analysts' skills at identifying problems and implementing cost reduction measures are expected to become increasingly important.
Despite projected rapid employment growth, competition for jobs as management analysts and consultants is expected to be keen. Because management consultants can come from such diverse educational backgrounds, the pool of applicants from which employers can hire is quite large. Additionally, the independent and challenging nature of the work, combined with high earnings potential, make this occupation attractive to many. Job opportunities are expected to be best for those with a graduate degree, a talent for salesmanship and public relations, and industry expertise.
Because many small consulting firms fail each year for lack of managerial expertise and clients, those interested in opening their own firm must have good organizational and marketing skills and several years of consulting experience.
Salaries for management analysts and consultants vary widely by experience, education, and employer. In 1996, those who were full-time wage and salary workers had median annual earnings of about $39,500. The middle 50 percent earned between $30,200 and $61,300, and the top 10 percent earned more than $81,500.
In 1996, according to the Association of Management Consulting Firms, earningsincluding bonuses and/or profit sharingfor research associates in member firms averaged $32,400; for entry level consultants, $35,200; for management consultants, $50,500; for senior consultants, $74,300; for junior partners, $91,100; and for senior partners, $167,100.
The average annual salary for management analysts in the Federal Government in nonsupervisory, supervisory, and managerial positions was $55,240 in 1997.
Typical benefits for salaried analysts and consultants include health and life insurance, a retirement plan, vacation and sick leave, profit sharing, and bonuses for outstanding work. In addition, all travel expenses usually are reimbursed by the employer. Self-employed consultants have to maintain their own office and provide their own benefits.
Management analysts and consultants collect, review, and analyze data; make recommendations; and assist in the implementation of their ideas. Others who use similar skills are managers, computer systems analysts, operations research analysts, economists, and financial analysts. Researchers prepare data and reports for consultants to use in their recommendations.
Information about career opportunities in management consulting is available from:
The Association of Management Consulting Firms, 521 Fifth Ave., 35th Floor, New York, NY 10175-3598.
For information about a career as a State or local government management analyst, contact your State or local employment service.
Information on obtaining a management analyst position with the Federal Government may be obtained from the Office of Personnel Management through a telephone based system. Consult your telephone directory under U.S. Government for a local number or call (912) 757-3000 (TDD 912 744-2299). That number is not toll free and charges may result. Information also is available from their internet site: http:// www.usajobs.opm.gov/
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