What Are the Pros and Cons of a Consulting Career?

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What Are the Pros and Cons of a Consulting Career?

PRO: Lots of job opportunities…

There’s always a demand for consultants. New businesses are constantly opening up (about 543,000 every month according to Yahoo), and each one is looking for help in establishing itself. Even long-standing businesses need someone who can analyze markets, study trends, and offer good advice.

Businesses both new and old tend to appreciate consultants who’ve helped them find their footing or advance to the next level, meaning that there are often job offers from clients that may be attractive to those who find a company they would like to settle down with.

CON: …but not much job security.

While it’s true that new businesses are constantly opening up, conversely other businesses are constantly shutting down. Through no fault of your own, a client you were hoping to work with long-term could close up shop virtually without warning. Or a company could experience a change in management and decide they no longer need your services.

This can be especially hard if you’re consulting freelance. Working for a firm can help provide stability, but the fact remains: Every job you work is temporary. Nothing is guaranteed.

PRO: You can build a large network…

A big part of success in any career is creating a strong network full of motivated, experienced professionals who can help you find work, deepen your knowledge, and overall achieve your goals. You help them, they help you. Everybody wins.

Being a consultant often means working within a team environment, meaning you get to know the people you’re working for very well. And because you’re always working with new clients, that means your network is constantly growing.

CON: …but you answer to many bosses.

If you work for an economic research firm, then obviously you have to answer to your superiors there. But you will also have to answer to your clients. More clients means more bosses, and you are as much beholden to their rules as you are any other.

Even if you’re freelance, you’re never truly independent. That may not be a problem for some, but for those who like to have as much freedom in their work as possible, it can be a deal-breaker.

PRO: The pay can be very high…

According to Glassdoor, the average yearly salary for consultants is about $77,398. Which is good, but not amazing. However, that average is for all consultants across a wide variety of specialties, from IT to marketing to management.

Choosing what kind of consulting you want to specialize in effectively means choosing how much you’d like to make. The better you are at it and the more niche your specialty, the higher your paycheck can climb. This is one point where freelancers can benefit even more, because they can set their rates as high as they want and also adjust them to better take advantage of a changing market.

CON: …but so are the expectations.

No job is completely stress-free, but consultants might feel the pressure more than some other professions. In a sense, that’s a consultant’s job.

Above all, you’re expected to get results, whether that means increasing ad reach or market share, or meeting predetermined metrics and deadlines. For consultants the heat is always on, so as the old saying goes, if you can’t take it you better get out of the kitchen.

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Samantha Acuna is a writer based in San Francisco, CA. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, and Yahoo Small Business.