The UK consulting industry is worth £8.5 billion and is an exciting sector to get into. If you're wondering whether it might be a good fit for you, read our concise digest of five routes into consultancy and discover what each could offer you.
1. Management Consultancy
Management consultants advise on how a company might implement strategic decisions. They might also find themselves advising on how to improve a company's or institution's performance - government and public sector organisations are known to employ management consultants to advise them.
As a management consultant, you'll need to grapple with every aspect of how an organisation works - from strategy and structure, to management and operations.
Perfect for: Inquisitive minds who like thinking about how businesses work. You'll enjoy working with others and have strong interpersonal and communications skills.
The perks: Solid starting salaries and travel both within the UK and internationally. Like strategy consultants, you'll get to work on lots of different projects and receive training that will stand you in excellent stead as your climb your career ladder.
2. Strategy Consultancy
This differs from management consultancy in that it's focused on the decisions taken at the highest level of the organisation. For example, it will be the strategy consultants who advise a CEO on whether they should reduce product prices and increase marketing spend, or funnel funds into lowering the company debt burden.
Perfect for: Ambitious, analytical and strategic minds. You'll enjoy conducting meticulous research and working under pressure. There's work on different projects across varying sectors.
The perks: You'll receive first-rate training and develop important transferable skills that will be valued by all future employers. The salaries and rewards can be among the highest for graduates as your progress up the career ladder.
3. Recruitment/HR Consultancy
Recruitment consultants and HR consultants are focused on the people within a business, and how they can be a resource maximised for the company. An HR consultant will advise on pay structure, culture and internal communication.
A recruitment consultant will source new employees for the company, ranging from temporary staff to C suite executives. Recruitment consultants can also advise on general recruitment strategy, rather than specific vacancies, and are therefore of high-value in competitive and high-growth marketplaces.
Both types of consultants require in-depth knowledge about the company and its industry.
Perfect for: People who like dealing with and meeting new people. A lot of recruitment consultants are also great networkers - so if you already have a good network of people and enjoy growing it, this could be a great route for you.
The perks: Good starting salaries and in recruitment consultancy you have the potential to earn lucrative bonuses. Most companies will offer some kind of training and as people are at the heart of any successful business, you'll get to know lots of influential people and the types of employee a business really needs to excel.
Top employers: This very much depends on the sector within which you might wish to specialise, but one of the top graduate schemes in this sector is with PageGroup.
4. Research Consultancy
Research consultants conduct specialised research on behalf of a client. Research consultants are normally experts in a particular field, sometimes scientific, who can provide reports in areas the company's full-time staff cannot. For example, a pharmaceutical company may hire a consultant to conduct research into human biology who will then report back on their findings, while the company's scientists focus on refining the product in-house.
Another example would be a specialist marketing research consultant who would supply reports on market research to the client company so it can make informed strategy decisions.
Perfect for: Those who like to specialise.
The perks: Once you become an expert in a field, the world is your oyster. As a specialist, you could be in demand by lots of different companies and you might even find yourself becoming the go-to-person for the press when issues come up in your field of expertise.
Top employers: For market research, Millward Brown; Ipsos Mori and GfK are good places to start. Cogonolink specialises in the finance sector (and featured in The Times 2014 ranking of great place to work).
If it's scientific research which you wish to make your focus, speaking to the relevant department at your university and seeing what links there are with organisations such as GSK and Cancer Research UK for example is a great first step.
5. Technology Consultancy
Technology consultancy gives strategic advice on the implementation and growth of technology, IT systems and infrastructures in a business. The aim is to help the client achieve their business goals through the apropos use of technology. As technology constantly changes and innovates, an IT consultant is always learning and evolving their specialities throughout their career.
You don't need a science degree to work in technology consulting. If you're passionate about the sector, you'll learn everything you need on the job.
Perfect for: Numerate, logical graduates. While a STEM degree is not a prerequisite, a strong interest and aptitude for technology does help. This route also suits early technology adopters.
The perks: Good starting salaries and training - as well as the opportunity to work at the heart of where so much of our future lies. You'll develop a coveted skill set meaning you'll probably be in high-demand for the rest of your career and that's no bad thing.
Top employers: PwC, Accenture, Deloitte, KPMG, EY, IBM, Capgemini. In addition, there are lots of smaller consultancies and businesses cropping up as demand for more specialist technology consultants increases. If you're thinking this could be a good route for you, look at technology-centric organisations - Google, Facebook, Qubit - where there is a host of very exciting and diverse opportunities.
Check out our bright guide to Technology Consulting to find out more.