How to Become
an IT Consultant
Education Pathways, Skills, and Certifications
Becoming an IT consultant is a great way to build a portfolio in the information technology industry without being committed to a single organization. In this guide, you will learn how to become an information technology consultant and get jobs around the world.
What does it mean to be an IT consultant? What education pathways are ideal for aspiring IT consultants? What skills do you need to thrive as an IT consultant? Read below to learn the answers to these and many other questions to help you start this journey.
What Is an IT Consultant?
An IT consultant is an expert who helps companies set up technology systems for their businesses. They prepare IT systems and make them suitable for achieving the company’s goals and objectives. Even if an IT consultant isn’t responsible for integrating the software, they might be employed to carry out an overhaul.
The goal is to help the business improve profit margins by investing in the most efficient tech hardware and software. As an IT consultant, you will work closely with the company’s tech team. When the company doesn’t have a dedicated tech team, you will educate and train staff members who use the technology.
What Does an IT Consultant Do?
Irrespective of the industry, all IT consultants do the same thing. Of course, the type of systems and the company objectives might vary, but your aim will always be to make things better for the company using information technology.
Creates IT Infrastructure for Clients
This will be one of the most challenging parts of your job as an IT consultant. You will need to learn everything about your client’s business to recommend the ideal technological infrastructure. Each suggestion should come with a budget estimate.
If the client approves your plan, you can start the creation and integration of the system. This includes software, hardware, network resources, and everything in between. You must ensure that the infrastructure you build is secure and stable.
Some tech problems can be solved easily, while others need a more professional touch. The IT consultant runs diagnostics using advanced hardware and software to see if an IT infrastructure performs as it should.
The hardware diagnostic tools are physical devices that can only be used when you’re in the building. They are connected to your client’s tech infrastructure. A technology solution usually follows diagnostics.
Recruits Tech Teams
SEO managers also use data collection and analysis to get new strategies. They use Google Analytics, Google Search Consoles, and other such software to keep track of SEO performance. They do this to find out which strategies are working and which are not. They use the information and implement it on other pages to improve their SEO scores.
IT Consultant Education Pathways
For an IT consultant, there are several education pathways. While the most common option is a bachelor’s degree, other options like tech bootcamps and self-education are becoming increasingly popular. It’s not going to be easy to get your first clients to trust you, but it is possible.
IT Consultant Degrees
You can gain an Associate Degree in Information Technology, Computer Science, or a related field from a community college in just two years. Add two more years and get a bachelor’s degree instead. Some clients will be more inclined to give a job to a consultant with a bachelor’s degree than someone with an associate degree.
For more credibility, opt for advanced degrees like a master’s degree or a PhD. You will need to complete a bachelor’s degree before applying for a Master’s in Information Technology or Computer Science. Most IT consultants stop with a master’s degree, but you can get a PhD after gathering a few years of experience.
IT Consultant Bootcamps
Do you know that software developers with enough industry experience can become IT consultants? This might seem like a long shot, but attending a coding bootcamp for 12 to 24 weeks can be the first step to becoming an IT consultant. The best coding bootcamps include General Assembly, Code Fellows, Flatiron School, and BrainStation.
IT Consultant Courses
If you’re taking the self-education route, you should apply for as many IT courses online as possible. These courses can be found online on platforms like Udemy, FutureLearn, Udacity, and Coursera.
There are general IT courses, and there are courses for people in specific industries like healthcare, automobile, and education. Choose a few of these courses based on the path you want to take. Most courses online are affordable, and some are free. You should be able to round off each course in a few weeks.
How to Become an IT Consultant: A Step-by-Step Guide
By following the five steps below, you can become an IT consultant in your desired field. However, there are some things you must learn and do to stand a chance as a consultant. All you need is adequate practice.
Choose a specialization
As stated above, IT consultants aren’t restricted to one industry. So, you should choose an industry that is most appealing to you before you start. It could be healthcare, business, or the financial industry. Just make sure the sector you choose is what works best for you.
Learn everything about technology
Depending on your educational pathway, you can add courses, projects, and your most valuable skills to a portfolio. Include your own website and positive feedback from previous jobs. You can build an impressive portfolio to help you stand out.
Take an entrepreneurship class
If you want to succeed as an IT consultant, you need to treat it like any other entrepreneurial venture. So, take a few business courses and learn how to build your business from the ground up. You will need a good combination of tech skills and business acumen to make progress.
Get a degree
Teaching yourself is fantastic, but it helps to have a degree you can present when a prospective client demands credentials. The good news is that you can apply for an Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree in Information Systems. These degrees are completed in 18 to 24 months instead of four years.
Register your business and create a website
As part of your business classes, you will probably learn the importance of digital marketing. These days, the first place clients look before they pay for services is the Internet. Therefore, your business website should be professional and concise.
Top Computer IT Consultant Skills
Whether you choose to go to school or teach yourself, some skills will make it easier for you to impress prospective clients and get jobs as an IT consultant. The top three of these skills are listed below.
Cloud computing is rapidly becoming a more viable alternative to traditional technology infrastructure, especially storage. As a result, most companies are trying to transition to cloud-based systems. Two of the best online courses to pick up this skill are Become a Cloud DevOps Engineer by Udacity and AWS Developer: Building on AWS by edX.
Salesforce is one of the oldest providers of software as a service. So, it makes sense for you to be proficient in Salesforce integration if you want to succeed as an IT consultant.
Two great options for learning about Salesforce integration are Formula Fundamentals in Salesforce by Pluralsight and The Complete Salesforce Classic Administrator by Udemy.
Distributed systems are shared computing models that have systems on multiple computers. The systems don’t need to be physically close to work. Examples include telecommunications and aircraft control. Some great courses are Distributed Systems & Cloud Computing with Java by Udemy and Distributed Systems Courses by Coursera.
IT Consultant Salary and Job Outlook
Information technology analysts are currently in high demand, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, you should expect an 11 percent surge in IT job growth between 2019 and 2029.
To put this into perspective, the BLS projects that all occupations in the United States will rise by four percent within the same timeframe. So, IT-related jobs are ahead of other fields by seven percent.
As for the salary outlook, there is no fixed average when it comes to working as a consultant. The amount you will earn yearly will depend on how many clients you have and how much you charge hourly. ZipRecruiter sets the hourly average at $35.57 and annual pay at $73,989.
Entry-Level IT Consultant Job Requirements
The minimum education requirement is a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, Computer Science, or a related field. However, with an associate degree or bootcamp training, you can start consulting. All you need to do is get your first client and work your way up from there.
Of course, it’s also possible to become an IT consultant with no degree or formal education. An entry-level IT consultant in the United States earns an average of $51,528 annually, according to ZipRecruiter.
How to Prepare for Your IT Consultant Job Interview
If you’re working as a self-employed IT consultant, your prospective clients will want to learn about your previous projects. The interviewer will also want to know if you understand the company’s business, products, or services.
So, read up on what the company does. You should come up with at least five examples of how your technology solutions can help the company reach its goals.
IT Consultant Interview Practice Questions
- What is subnetting, and how does it work?
- What solutions will you implement if you’re given the job?
- How have you overcome challenges of consensus during previous integration projects?
- Have you ever made a significant mistake while building technical infrastructure for your client?
- How do you solve technical problems when they arise?
IT Consultant Certifications
Whether you’re a freelance IT consultant or attached to a company, becoming a part of international associations and getting certified will help you. Below is a list of some of the best certifications for IT consultants.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
This is a globally recognized certification under the International Information System Security Certification Consortium. There are approximately 147,591 members across the globe. This certificate will give you a significant boost in the industry. The exam costs around $699, but it can be more depending on your location and other fees.
GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)
This certification was designed for IT professionals. Passing the exam is the best way to prove that you have an in-depth knowledge of information technology systems with a specific focus on security. The exam costs about $1,699, and you need to get at least 73 percent of the questions right to become certified.
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
This certification is for IT professionals who want to prove that they understand the technology to secure information systems. The certification exam costs around $1,199. You have to answer questions related to attack prevention, vectors, detection, and other aspects of information security.
How Long Does It Take to Become an IT Consultant?
You can become an IT consultant in two to four years. However, there is no fixed timeline for getting your first job as an IT consultant. If you train yourself, you can start looking for consultant gigs within two years or less.
Those who opt for a bachelor’s degree must complete the program and get awarded first before applying for jobs. This can take three to five years, depending on your schedule.
Why You Should Become an IT Consultant in 2021
You should become an IT consultant because the job outlook is impressive and the earning potential is even better. However, keep in mind that breaking into any field as a consultant isn’t going to be easy. Company owners will be trusting you with crucial technology, so you need to prove that you have what it takes to get the job done.
Most consultants start by working as part of dedicated IT teams attached to organizations or under more experienced IT consultants. This is because it’s easier to break into the industry if you have experience on your resume. If you want to become an IT consultant, you should start now.
Information Technology Consultant FAQ
No, professional certification is not compulsory. However, having a few under your belt will increase your chances of getting hired by a client. Also, most prospective clients will ask you for your certification because it helps boost their confidence in your skills.
Yes, you do. Having a unique brand, company name, website, and bank account will make it easier for clients to give you gigs. While it’s not impossible, it’s challenging to find companies that will trust you with major projects when you don’t have an official brand and a professional setup.
Yes, you can. Remote IT consultants service all kinds of industries. You may work as a self-employed remote IT consultant, contractor, or full-time employee who consults from home.
Yes, you do. It’s not enough to know your way around technology infrastructures. You should also work on your communication, analytical thinking, multitasking, and problem-solving skills. A keen eye for detail and time-management skills are also vital.