- What does an IT consultant do?
- IT consultant career path
- IT consultant salaries
- Qualifications and training
- IT consultant skills
- Pros and cons of being an IT consultant
- IT consultant work-life balance
- Typical employers
- Related jobs to IT consultant
- More information
Do you have a genuine passion for technology? Do you love helping people make great decisions? If you want your career to involve working for many companies on different and interesting projects all relating to IT, a career as an IT consultant could be perfect for you.
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If you’re interested in starting your career in IT consulting, explore the consulting jobs available right now.
What does an IT consultant do?
IT consultants use their good understanding of IT systems to help clients, typically companies and other organisations, to implement new IT systems, advise on which systems to use to increase productivity or sales, and help colleagues to use the IT systems that you bring in. The job title ‘IT consultant’ is broad and encompases many different specialities within it, for example data analytics, cyber security and many others.
Here are the daily tasks and responsibilities that you have in IT consulting:
- Meeting with a client and listening to why they want a new system, what the system needs to do and what the requirements of the end users are
- Designing and producing IT systems to help solve the issue that the client is facing
- Presenting your ideas and work to the client and discussing any changes that they would like
- Making changes to the system based on your ideas and the needs of the client
- Setting up the IT system for the client
- Working with any existing IT staff members to teach them to use the new systems
- Discuss the new systems with staff so they understand its purpose and how to use it
- Writing a report to summarise what you did and what was successful about your work
IT consultant career path
As you acquire the skills you need for an IT consulting job through gaining experience, you move upwards in the consulting firm with a paycheck to match. You may decide that you want to move away from a client-facing role and into a more technical job and become a software engineer. Similarly, you may decide you don’t want to make the systems anymore but like the social side and move to product management for a software company. Similarly, you may decide that working as an IT consultant is the right job for you. Here is the typical career path in IT consultancy:
You begin your career as a junior IT consultant. In this role, you work with a client to make the system that best suits their needs and set it up for them. You may discuss your ideas with more senior members of your firm and ask them for advice if you need it. You report your work back to your team on a weekly basis so they know your progress and can help if necessary.
After a junior IT consultant, you become a mid-level IT consultant. With this promotion comes more responsibility. You may work with larger firms making more complex IT systems. You still report your work to your firm, but need less help from senior members of the team and can provide help to junior colleagues.
The highest level in the IT consulting career path is senior IT consultant. In this role, you get the largest or most high profile firms, working on big or complex systems. You represent your consulting firm and may be in high demand by clients. Having a broad and thorough understanding of the IT systems available and keeping yourself up to date with them helps you bring your clients the most up to date solutions.
IT consultant salaries
IT consultants begin their careers working in junior positions and can progress to senior positions or move into jobs handling the running of a consultancy firm rather than focused on IT. Here are the salaries that you could earn when working as an IT consultant:
- Junior IT consultants earn an average of £34,000 per year
- Mid-level IT consultants earn an average of £38,000 per year. This varies considerably depending on the size of the firm you work for, the location and your level of responsibility.
- Senior IT consultants earn an average of £55,000 per year but could see figures of over £80,000 per year depending on the firm and their level of expertise.
Qualifications and training
IT consulting is a highly lucrative and desirable career path. Here are the steps that you should take to make sure your CV is on the top of any hiring manager’s pile:
To be successful as an IT consultant, you typically need an undergraduate degree in an IT-based subject. This doesn’t need to be computer science but could be IT and computing, data science or another related degree programme. If you want to specialise as a consultant, having a degree in a specific area like cybersecurity teaches you in more detail the types of issues you may encounter at work.
Having a master’s degree isn’t necessary for a career as an IT consultant. However, like having a specialised undergraduate degree, you can get a more general IT-based undergraduate degree and specialise at master’s level.
Another route is an apprenticeship in IT consulting. This often involves studying for an undergraduate degree whilst working for a consulting company, gaining practical experience alongside theoretical understanding. If you’re interested in an IT consultant apprenticeship, consider the University of West London digital and technology solutions: IT consultant apprenticeship. You can explore the apprenticeships available on the government’s National Careers Service website.
Having work experience teaches you the type of tasks that you do in your career as an IT consultant and helps you to understand the working environment. The type of work experience that you can do as an IT consultant could be an internship or shadowing an IT consultant.
If you’re interested in internships in IT consulting, explore the IT consultant internship opportunities available right now. You could also do some networking to find any unpublished opportunities. Learn more about networking with our Bright advice for networking.
IT consultant skills
Since IT consulting is a general term with many specialisations within it, the ideal skills for each IT consultant job may vary. However, here are some skills that are useful for you to have for any IT consultant job:
- Coding. Whilst coding itself is not always necessary in IT consulting as you may not work with code, understanding how systems work and the code behind it helps you implement systems which are ideal for your client and also helps you fix problems if the systems go wrong.
- Communication. Having great communication skills is important for your career in IT consulting. Firstly, you need to sell yourself and your expertise to a client and show them why you would be a good employee. Secondly, you need to explain your ideas and show the client what you have been up to and why it’s beneficial for them. Finally, you need to communicate well with your client’s employees so they can use the systems without any problems.
- Eagerness to learn. Being eager to learn is a great skill for IT consultants to have. Performing well in your job requires you to know the best software to recommend to your clients and how to use it so you can set it up for them. Being eager to learn means you take the initiative to teach yourself about the innovations in the industry which isn’t required for your job but helps you perform better.
Pros and cons of being an IT consultant
Whilst being an IT consultant can be an excellent career and could combine your interest in building new systems and customer service, here are some things for you to consider before signing a contract:
- You get to work with new and interesting companies, giving you a great deal of experience in different areas of IT, making daily work more interesting because you have new challenges to work through
- You develop a network of companies you’ve worked for and people you’ve met in the process
- You often have control over the companies that you work with and can turn down projects which don’t interest you or don’t match your expertise. This is particularly relevant later on in your career
- You can keep up to date with the latest technology and software
- You can earn a lot of money from being an IT consultant
- You see a project from start to finish which can be very satisfying
- Your client may expect high quality, perfect work from you in a short amount of time which can make work stressful
- You may have strict deadlines to keep to
- Sometimes you may have to live away from home for some time if you’re traveling to get to a client. This could lead to loneliness, issues with keeping pets and other related problems with work-life balance.
- If you’re working for a small IT consulting firm or are just starting out, you may not have certainty over your next line of work which can be stressful
- Keeping yourself up to date on the latest software and technology can be difficult when you’re working long hours
IT consultant work-life balance
You would normally work typical office hours of 9am to 5pm on Monday to Friday. Since your work is results-based, you may work longer hours and sometimes weekends when a deadline is approaching.
Your job requires you to fully understand the needs of a client. To get this understanding, you often work in the client’s office, designing and tailor-making the systems for them. This may mean traveling for your work. However, your consultancy firm may find work for you in the local area or close by unless you have specific skills or specialisation which mean you’re particularly desirable elsewhere.
Typical employers hiring IT consultants
Learn about the big three consulting firms in the UK.
Related jobs to IT consultant
If you’re interested in a career in IT consulting, explore the current IT consulting jobs available right now.
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