Designed to develop core business skills and strengths as a consultant, an online MBA in consulting remains a great way to advance your business career. If you seek more responsibility, higher pay, or a career change, this degree can help.
It's never too soon to start career planning. College students should visit their school's career center during their freshman year to explore internship and career opportunities. By junior year, students should give serious consideration to their life beyond college.
An MBA in consulting can open the door to a variety of careers in corporate and nonprofit leadership, including healthcare administration, business operations, marketing, finance, accounting, and management.
What Can You Do With an Online MBA in Consulting?
MBA graduates in consulting qualify for lucrative positions as business consultants and senior business professionals. Consultants may combine specialized interests with the core business skills gained through an MBA to offer high-level advice in fields as varied as healthcare, finance, education, information technology, and human resources. With an online MBA in consulting, you gain the skills to analyze business operations and offer advice on strategic planning for any type of business or client.
Bachelor's degree holders can find consulting jobs or join firms where they begin to learn consulting skills. Top firms typically prefer consultants with a master's degree, so an MBA will boost your earning potential and the number of jobs you qualify for. As you gain experience, you can take on more complex challenges and command an even higher salary. Payscale reports that entry-level management consultants earn an average of $87,163, while mid-career consultants make $100,648 and experienced consultants earn $121,821.
Interview With a Management Consultant
Paige Arnof-Fenn is the founder and CEO of global marketing and branding firm Mavens & Moguls in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her clients include Microsoft, The New York Times Company, Colgate, venture-backed startups, and nonprofit organizations. She graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Business School. Paige is a popular speaker and columnist who has written for Entrepreneur and Forbes.
Why did you choose to earn an MBA? Is it something you were always interested in?
My first job out of college was on Wall Street as a financial analyst at an investment bank. I knew early on I would not stay beyond my two-year commitment. I was good at the job and was paid well, but I did not enjoy the work. I knew I wanted to be in business, but I had no idea where to go next so I applied to get an MBA as soon as my job ended. My father had an MBA so I knew it would be good to have on my resume and would also allow me to spend my summer doing an internship in another type of business outside of finance. My MBA gave me the skills, confidence, and network for a better career path so, for me, it was a great decision.
What was the job search like after completing your MBA?
I interviewed on campus and, because I had done a summer internship between my first and second year, I was fortunate to get an offer from them for after graduation so I could really focus my job search on finding the best fit for me and my interests. There was a recession in the early '90s when I graduated so I ended up deciding my offer from the summer was, in fact, the best opportunity, so I took the job.
What are some crucial skills that you acquired through your MBA program?
My MBA taught me how to make decisions without all the data and build the confidence to pivot as new information became available. I learned how to present my ideas in a compelling and succinct way and to speak up. Working in teams successfully is also an important skill I had to master in my program as much of business requires motivating and inspiring others toward a common goal.
What jobs have you had in the consulting field? Which did you prefer the most, and why?
I have played many roles, from salesperson bringing in the clients to team lead as the relationship manager to subject matter expert delivering the work. I enjoy the variety of being able to wear many hats. Consulting is great because you never get bored and are always learning. You get to apply the knowledge from one category to another so it is a lot of fun.
What qualities make someone successful in a consulting role?
It helps to be curious and ask lots of questions, be a good listener, and have a strong work ethic. Since projects are done in teams, having a good sense of humor makes you fun to work with too.
What advice would you give to students who are considering earning an MBA and pursuing a consulting career?
Take the GMAT while you are still in college since you are already in test-taking mode; the scores stay on file for a few years. Order the applications and think about the essays before you are under a deadline so you can be thinking about how to position yourself when the time is right. Find mentors who have MBAs and network with people who can tell you about their careers. See if you can get an internship while you are in college to test drive the type of work and culture of the firm to make sure it is a good fit. Talk to a professor to see if you could do a consulting project for credit for a class to get experience. They usually have great contacts through former students.
Any final thoughts for us?
I did a full-time MBA program, but there are also executive MBA programs you can do on nights and weekends if you cannot afford the time or expense, and some companies will help pay for it too if you like the job you are in. Wherever you apply, check to see how engaged the alumni network is; they can be a huge source of value once you get your degree.
What Certifications and Licenses are Needed for a Career in Consulting?
Professional credentials help experienced consultants stand out and gain recognition for their expertise. Your MBA can help you qualify for advanced certifications such as those below. Professional credentials often boost salary potential and help business professionals land a better job. Since business certifications allow candidates to demonstrate their expertise, they remain a valuable asset to job seekers.
- Certified Management Consultant The Institute of Management Consultants offers CMC certification to experienced management consultants. Applicants must submit written statements, obtain client evaluations, and pass online and oral exams.
- Project Management Professional Experienced project managers may apply for this internationally recognized professional certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). Applicants must demonstrate project management experience and education and pass an exam.
- Professional in Business Analysis PMI also offers PBA certification for experts in defining project or product requirements and outcomes. Candidates must demonstrate business analysis experience and education and pass a multiple-choice exam.