Most people think they can tell other people how to do their jobs better. This universal truth of ego means there are plenty of people who want to get into consultancy, either as a one-man band or by join-ing a City firm. The belief that consultants are well paid, do very little work and accept no responsibility still seems to be true. Career changers tend to fare far better by going the solo route (City firms are geared up for recruiting recent graduates) and if you have extensive enough 156 sector-by-sector information for career changers knowledge of and experience in a certain field, becoming a consultant could be lucrative. Generally you will be self-employed and build up a portfolio of clients for whom you will work on a project-by-project basis or for a few days a month. Many consultants report earning more money for working fewer hours.
Ideally, you should be able to line up your first clients before you leave your current job. Clients are generally built up through recommendation and networking. Career progression comes from working for more exciting companies on more exciting projects.
If you’re looking to join a firm of consultants, your opportunity to join the team may be pegged to them securing contracts requiring your specialist knowledge. Alternatively, smaller and specialist consultancy firms tend to have more liberal entry criteria and will consider candi-dates on aptitude and attitude as well as academic brilliance.
If you are working for yourself, it will be your contacts, networking ability and experience that qualify you best for a lucrative career as a consultant. If you want to join a firm, specialist sector knowledge and a good degree from a good university will open a lot of doors.
A consultant at a City firm can expect a salary of between £40,000 and £60,000 after a couple of years. Partners earn considerably more (£125,000–£350,000). Self-employed consultants’ earnings
sector-by-sector information for career changers 157 depend on their sector, with rates varying from £200 a day to £200 an hour.