Do I Need an MBA for Consulting?
Published on October 1, 2021 · Updated on April 25, 2022
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- Most of the top management consulting firms recruit MBA-holders from top business schools.
- Any type of MBA can help prepare you for a career as a consultant.
- Most business schools house consulting clubs to help students make connections.
- Management consultants are among the highest-paid business professionals.
When companies work on projects requiring specialized expertise and experience they don't have in-house, they often seek guidance from outside consultants — usually at a very high fee. Management consultants can be among the highest earners in the business world.
While you don't need an MBA to become a consultant, this degree can provide major advantages. If your career goal is to become a highly paid management consultant working for a major consulting firm like McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, or Bain & Company, your chances of getting hired without an MBA may be pretty slim.
Additionally, if you plan to start your own consulting business in marketing, finance, operations, technology, or another related field, an MBA can prove very helpful. Earning an MBA through an accredited program can provide the skills and experience you need to succeed. An MBA also signals to clients that you possess a level of expertise in your field.
Why Get an MBA for Consulting?
As a consultant, you will likely interact with diverse clientele. You will rely on a combination of management, analytical, and people skills. An MBA program can help you develop both the hard and soft skills needed to succeed as a consultant.
Necessary abilities typically include leadership, collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication. You can also develop skills in strategy, analytics, operations management, marketing, economics, finance, technology, international business, and risk management.
In addition, most MBA programs allow you to choose a concentration or specialization. Consulting firms may prefer candidates with an MBA concentration over a general MBA. Some business schools offer specific concentrations in consulting or management consulting, although these programs are uncommon.
Most MBA graduates who enter consulting do so after earning an MBA with a concentration in strategic management, project management, global management, product management, organizational management, marketing, information technology, or business management. Many of these concentrations include coursework specifically relating to consulting.
While there are several advantages to getting an MBA if you want to pursue a career as a consultant, it may not be the best solution for everyone who is planning to enter the field. Decide for yourself by reviewing some of the pros and cons listed below.
Pros of Getting an MBA for Consulting
Cons of Getting an MBA for Consulting
Alternatives to Getting an MBA for Consulting
- Earn an accredited small business consultant certification or accredited SME consultant certification through the Association of Accredited Small Business Consultants.
- Become certified in another business discipline like project management, human resources, accounting, marketing, sales, economics, analytics, operations management, supply chain management, or information technology. Being certified in any of these subject areas can help you prove your qualifications as a consultant.
- Earn a certificate in consulting from an accredited business school. Certificate programs are less expensive and faster to complete than an MBA program.
Frequently Asked Questions About Getting an MBA for Consulting
An MBA is not a requirement to enter the field of consulting, but the degree can improve your chances of landing work and earning a higher wages.
It can definitely be worth getting an MBA if you plan to work for a large management consulting firm. Most top consulting firms recruit heavily from top business schools.
Just about any type of MBA can help prepare you for a career as a consultant. If the school you plan to attend doesn't offer an MBA with a concentration in management consulting, a general MBA or an MBA with a concentration in any business field can help you achieve your goal.
Krystal Covington, MBA
Krystal Covington, MBA, is a business growth strategist with 15 years of experience in marketing and public relations. Her company, Go Lead Consulting, provides clients with foundational tools to build new client and customer relationships.
Covington founded Women of Denver, one of the largest privately held membership organizations in Denver, Colorado. Her program helps women increase their business acumen, sharpen leadership skills, and connect with other high-achieving women. Covington received her MBA from Western Governors University in 2012.
Image Credit: Getty Images | Five | Moment
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