IT consultants are passionate about the world of computers and technology. As great communicators who love to be organised, they have a comprehensive knowledge of how IT systems work.
Working as an IT consultant, you will be challenged frequently, working to improve the structure and efficiency of IT systems across many organisations. You will work collaboratively, provide advice and be a helpful addition to the team. IT consultants are a role which is constantly developing and becoming more popular in the digital world.
What is an IT Consultant?
An IT consultant is an advisor when it comes to information technology systems. Your role is to work collaboratively with clients and advise them on how to use IT, support them in facing a variety of problems and implement solutions, to help them meet business objectives.
You will plan, design and install IT systems for clients’ goals.
A degree is required to become an IT consultant.
You will be a strategist, providing guidance and technical expertise when working with clients and can also help with other processes such as user training and feedback. Information tech consultants can carry out repairs from data management to APIs and cybersecurity.
As an IT consultant, you will have a collaborative and analytical job. These are the various responsibilities you can expect:
- Collaborate with clients to understand their requirements and the scope of the project.
- Consult staff from the client’s organisation to plan timescales and resources needed.
- Clarify the client’s work practices, their specifications and the nature of their business.
- Liaise with staff from all levels across a client’s organisation.
- Travel to clients and organise meetings.
- Determine the information system requirements and provide objective advice on the use of IT.
- Define the network, software and hardware requirements.
- Make recommendations for improvements for software and hardware and implement them.
- Design, install and trial new software and systems, monitor and fix any arising issues.
- Create and present solutions in written or oral reports.
- Purchase new systems when appropriate.
- Prepare documentation and present it to clients.
- Repair computer issues and remove viruses.
- Organise and lead training for users and consultants.
- Be collaborative in the sales and support process.
- Identify potential new clients and make contact.
An IT consultant’s salary can vary depending on who they work for and their experience level. The average salary in the UK is around £29,000-£36,000, depending on the firm you work for. For entry-level positions, the average salary is around £27,000. More experienced technical consultant salary consultants can earn between £55,00-£60,000+.
London salaries are more than the average UK salary. The average technology consulting salary is around the £43,154 mark, whilst you can earn up to £80,000 for more experienced positions as an IT consultant.
If you take the self-employed route and work freelance, you can charge a day rate, between £150-£550+, depending on your experience level and expertise.
A degree is required to become an IT consultant. The degree doesn’t necessarily need to be IT specific, however, many subjects are useful, including:
- Business studies degrees
- Computer science degrees
- Engineering degrees
- Information systems degrees
- Mathematics degrees
- Software engineering degrees
If your degree isn’t in any of the above subjects or relevant to IT, you may need to show your knowledge through work experience, internships and passion for the subject. All of these things can aid you in starting your career in IT.
A postgraduate qualification isn’t necessary for this line of work. However, it can be useful in showing your interest in IT, especially if your undergraduate degree isn’t relevant. Postgraduate degrees can vary in all IT subjects such as Information Technology management degrees.
Training and development
As a technology consultant, the opportunities for training and development are endless. You will develop your skills on the job, through training in-house courses. Training can vary from the principles of systems analysis to project management and using specific business software. Other training can be done with the client side of your role, focusing on leadership, presentation skills, client interaction and conflict resolution.
If you would like to work and study, an apprenticeship is a great way to get your foot in the door.
In larger companies, you can be part of more formal training. This can include mentoring schemes, tailoring your training to you and how you would like to evolve in the job. It offers you the opportunity to learn about various systems and working environments.
Joining a professional body is useful to help you with gaining further qualifications and access to resources. You should join The BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT as a member to access guidance and information to develop your learning needs and expertise. There are different levels of membership, depending on your skill level and experience. For those with relevant experience, the BCS offer chartership and a commitment to their continuing professional development (CPD).
As an IT consultant, your role is analytical, excellent at problem solving and collaborative, involving various skills. These are the required skills:
- The ability to be a confident leader.
- Excellent communication skills verbally, written and presentation.
- Be able to work well in a team and take a collaborative approach.
- A logical mind – great with analysing and problem-solving.
- Strong customer service skills.
- Great with attention to detail and organising various workloads.
- Quick worker and the ability to take things on board swiftly.
- Confident in your decisions.
- The ability to communicate technical information about IT to non-IT colleagues and clients.
- A flexible and adaptable approach to work.
- Great with time management, meet deadlines and works well under pressure.
- Capable of meeting high standards.
If you would like to work and study, an apprenticeship is a great way to get your foot in the door. For an IT consultant role, there are various apprenticeships in IT and within consulting, such as the IT Consultant apprenticeship. The levels of apprenticeship can depend on existing qualifications and experience. Visit the government apprenticeship website to see the range of apprenticeships on offer.
Work experience is useful when it comes to applying for a job as a technical consultant and helps you with career progression. You can find a placement, either through an internship or a one-off work placement. Internships generally run during the summer holidays and can last for a few weeks or months, depending on the organisation.
First or second years undergraduate students can apply for internships in the industry. This work experience will offer you hands-on skills in the role, teaching you about client management skills, communicating the business benefits of IT and commercial awareness. As competition for vacancies is high, it’s recommended to apply in the autumn term of your final year.
An IT consultant is an advisor when it comes to information technology systems.
For some degrees, you may be offered a year in the industry and can learn these on-job skills before you finish your degree, which can come in handy when applying for IT consultant jobs.
The IT industry is constantly evolving and careers within it are diverse. As a tech consultant, you have a significant range of prospects and opportunities, and it can vary based on where you work. It’s common to move between employers, however.
For many large companies, there’s a career structure in place, offering regular appraisals and promotions, with individuals managing their careers. With experience, you can move up the ranks to a senior consultant or specialise in a specific sector or programme. You can also take on the opportunity to lead training or become a project manager.
Additionally, in technology consultant jobs, you can progress by developing your technical expertise, moving in the direction of working at national and international technical conferences or, head in the business route, leading the firm. There’s also the option to go self-employed, become a freelance consultant or set up your own IT consultancy firm and train entry-level IT consultants.