A guide to becoming an IT Consultant

 

If you are someone who enjoys working with Information Technology (IT), and you like to work with different people and solve unique problems on a daily basis, you may be interested in working as an IT consultant. If you take this career path, you can work for one of the many consulting companies in the UK (or around the world), or you can work for yourself. But do you have the attributes required to be an IT consultant? What qualifications will you need to attain? Read on to discover everything you need to know.

 

The responsibilities of an IT consultant

 

Firstly, it is important to understand the responsibilities involved in IT consultancy, so that you can determine whether this is a career that is suitable for you. As an IT consultant, you will be expected to…

– Meet with clients to determine their requirements
– Assess IT requirements and provide objective and independent advice
– Define network, hardware and software requirements
– Identify potential clients and maintain good relationships with existing clients
– Be involved in IT support and sales where appropriate
– Organise training for users
– Prepare documentation, including progress reports
– Design, test, install and monitor new systems
– Purchase systems where appropriate
– Help clients with activities pertaining to change-management
– Present solutions in both oral and written reports
– Develop agreed solutions and put new systems in place
– Communicate with staff at all levels of the business you are working with
– Travel to customer sites
– Clarify system specifications, understand the client’s business and the work they carry out
– Plan resources and timescales
– Produce project scopes alongside the client

 

What do I need to do to become an IT consultant?

 

There are a number of steps you will need to take to become an IT consultant. Firstly, you will need to attain a relevant degree, for example, a degree in engineering or computer science will be deemed acceptable. Of course, taking a degree in IT will be a massive plus. While a Bachelor’s Degree is seen as a standard, higher levels of qualifications are also commonplace and can help you to stand out from other candidates. Some employers will prefer a Master’s Degree. You will also be expected to have relevant experience. Often consulting firms will look for individuals with at least five years of specialist experience, although this is not always the skill.

Rather than being a jack-of-all-trades, most IT consultants will specialise in a specific area, while having exceptional all-round IT knowledge. For example, your area of specialism could be Oracle or SAP. There are a few other things that will give you an edge when looking for a job as an IT consultant, including your location. In the UK, 40 per cent of IT consultancy roles are in London and the South East, therefore you will have much greater opportunities as an IT consultant in London. You also need to have a number of personal skills and attributes, which we will discuss in the next paragraph.

 

The skills and attributes you need to be an IT consultant

 

In order to be a successful IT consultant, you need to be someone who has:

– The ability to meet deadlines and work within budget constraints
– Great people skills and can work with a variety of people at all levels in an organisation
– The ability to work well under pressure
– Great problem-solving skills
– Excellent communication skills
– The ability to analyse data and digest information successfully
– A high level of decisiveness
– Good listening skills

 

Salary and working hours

 

In the UK, the average salary for an IT consultant is £52,272 per annum. Of course, there are a number of factors that will determine the rate of pay you receive, including your specialist skills, the IT services you provide, your client base, and experience. There are a lot of consultants that can earn up to £90,000 per year. In terms of working hours, while you will generally work from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., you can expect to put in a lot of extra hours throughout the year in order to meet deadlines. You will also spend a lot of time travelling to and from your clients’ sites. There are not a lot of part-time roles available for IT consultants, but self-employment is an option.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding regarding what it takes to be an IT consultant, as well as the responsibilities you will have if you do decide to go down this career path.