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What kind of licensing or certification do I need to be a business consultant?

Q: What kind of licensing or certification do I need to be a business consultant?

A: No official licensing or certification is required to become a management or other consultant, but certain credentials and experience will go a long way to establishing your credibility.

What consulting credentials should I show to potential clients?

Whether they're looking to hire a management, HR, or marketing consultant, clients will want to work with professionals who have demonstrated past success in their field. It's common for management consultants to list the following credentials on their website or marketing material…

  • Years of experience in the field.
  • Membership in professional organizations.
  • Education and training in the field.

In addition, clients often want to know about your range of abilities and types of clients you typically work for. For example, a consultant might list that she works with businesses at every stage of development, from startups to corporations with million-dollar revenues. Another consultant might list that he specializes in risk management consulting for small to medium-sized technology businesses.

Should I get an industry-specific accreditation for my consulting firm?

It will depend on the area of consulting you work in. If you work with management, you can become a certified management consultant from the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes. If you're an insurance consultant, you can become a certified risk manager through the National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research New browser window icon.. These certifications aren't required, but they add credibility.

Look around to see what certification is available in your discipline and see how common it is for other consultants you might be competing with.

If there isn't consulting accreditation in your field, you can list related credentials that show your expertise. For instance, a risk management consultant might also be a certified insurance agent. While risk management certification isn't required (and consultants typically don't sell insurance), demonstrating any insurance-related proficiency can be helpful. Similarly, an energy consultant might have an LEED Professional Accreditation New browser window icon. if she specializes in green energy consulting.

What education is required to be a consultant?

Clients will usually expect you to have a degree in business, accounting, economics, or other related disciplines, and many will look work with consultants who have an MBA. This is particularly true if you work with larger, more established clients. In some areas of consulting, having a technical background in engineering, IT, or energy might be the most helpful.

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