If you’re planning for a career move, it makes sense to focus on a field with a lot of potential. As the economy heats up, it doesn’t work like an oven that browns all the biscuits at the same rate. Some industries are much hotter than others. So it makes sense for you to focus your 2011 career plan on a field that is expected to offer lots of job opportunities.
In the book, I provide information about 11 hot career fields. Following is some information about the hottest field of all, management, scientific, and technical consulting services. (The following discussion draws heavily on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Career Guide to Industries.)
Firms that offer management, scientific, and technical consulting services influence how businesses, governments, and institutions make decisions. Often working behind the scenes, these firms offer technical expertise, information, contacts, and tools that clients cannot provide themselves. They then work with their clients to provide a service or solve a problem.
Usually, one of the resources that consulting firms provide to clients is expertise—in the form of knowledge, experience, special skills, or creativity; another resource is time or personnel that the client cannot spare. Clients include large and small companies in the private sector; federal, state, and local government agencies; institutions, such as hospitals, universities, unions, and nonprofit organizations; and foreign governments or businesses.
The management, scientific, and technical consulting services industry is diverse. Almost anyone with expertise in a given area can enter consulting, which means that it can be a good field to move into after you have acquired a lot of skills and knowledge in some other industry.
Management consulting firms advise on almost every aspect of corporate operations: marketing; finance; corporate strategy and organization; manufacturing processes; information systems and data processing; electronic commerce (e-commerce) or business; human resources, including benefits and compensation; and many others. Scientific and technical consulting firms provide technical advice relating to almost all nonmanagement organizational activities, including compliance with environmental and workplace safety and health regulations; the application of technology; and the application of sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics.
Consultants work slightly longer hours than most other workers, and occasionally they work evenings or weekends under stress to meet hurried deadlines. Consultants whose services are billed hourly often are under pressure to manage their time very carefully.
Workers enter this industry via a wide variety of routes. Although employers generally prefer a bachelor’s or higher degree, most jobs also require extensive on-the-job training or related experience. Advancement opportunities are best for workers with the highest levels of education.
Some consultants start their own firm as a self-employed, one-person operation, eventually taking on a small support staff.
Employment in this field is projected to grow by 82.7 percent from 2008 to 2018. All of the following occupations are projected to grow within this industry by at least 100 percent. Note that the following facts about these occupations apply only to workers within this industry.
|Occupational Growth Within Industry||Workforce Size Within Industry||Average Earnings Within Industry|
|1.||Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts||148.2%||6,560||$74,410|
|4.||Customer Service Representatives||104.0%||27,980||$31,520|
|6.||Public Relations Specialists||104.0%||8,350||$57,530|
|7.||Training and Development Specialists||103.9%||6,640||$60,420|
|8.||Computer Software Engineers, Applications||102.4%||11,660||$89,190|
|9.||Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software||102.4%||11,420||$94,170|
|10.||Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists||102.1%||5,200||$60,340|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Earnings are national estimates for May 2009.