The Consultant Industry Classification You Need to Know



The consultant industry is continually evolving, providing job opportunities for professionals with specialized skills. To ensure you are up-to-date about the various types of consultants and positions available, it is important to understand the different consultant industry classifications. This article will provide an overview of the different types of classifications and will discuss the specific details of each.

Overview of the consultant industry

The consultant industry can be a vast and confusing place for those unfamiliar with the terminology. In order to orient you to its complexities, this article will provide an overview of the primary types of consultants:

  • Management Consultants: These professionals typically help companies develop strategies on how to improve operations or reach a certain goal by optimizing organizational performance. Their work can range from general consulting to more specialized areas such as technology or process engineering.
  • IT Consultants: IT Consultants are experts in information technology who provide technical advice and assistance in areas such as computer system implementation, database development and networking solutions. Their expertise is used in many aspects of business development from operational projects to project planning.
  • Business and Financial Consultants: These experts specialize in financial analysis services that help their clients periodically review long term plans, recommend new approaches with respect to financing needs or adjust resource levels according to changing conditions on the market. By providing comprehensive financial consulting solutions they can help businesses identify risk opportunities that might be driving away potential profits.
  • Human Resources (HR) Consultants: Human Resources (HR) Consulting is an important part of any organization that seeks guidance in managing personnel issues effectively while also balancing employee performance with corporate objectives. HR consultants are experienced professionals who understand the best practices associated with employee relations, strategic planning and organizational effectiveness. They may be hired to assess existing policies or help develop effective solutions tailored specifically for a company’s unique requirements and development objectives.
  • Marketing/Sales Consultants: Experienced marketing/sales professionals are highly sought after by many businesses today as their services bring focus within sales teams which often means improved customer satisfaction due to increased sales success rates within targeted markets or regions. They have extensive knowledge about target audiences, customer insights tools and other core strategies essential for successful product promotion campaigns without having expensive staff members on board at all times so it’s clear why these services are so important for organizations’ expansion goals today but also future growth strategies over time.
  • Project Management Specialists: The roles of project managers cover a range of activities that include assessment responsibility regarding feasibility studies; budgeting oversight; resource allocation guidance; scheduling support; report deductions; quality control assessments; progress tracking; risk analyses across multiple platforms related directly related to the project being undertaken and much more! In essence they serve as unified leaders who ensure best practice oriented processes are taken during each step until completion – enabling critical objectives along with final deliverables meeting all deadlines with highest accuracy in delivery possible every time!

Definition of consultant industry classification

The consultant industry classification (CIC) is an internationally implemented definition of the consultant industry and its various sub-sectors. It is composed of five main divisions that categorize the primary activities performed by consultants, including:

  • Architecture and Engineering: Consultants in this sector may specialize in planning, design services or construction management to assist in the development of a range of buildings or structures.
  • Management and Economic Consulting Services: Providers in this category offer advice on how to improve the efficiency or effectiveness of an organization’s management structure. They may do this through offering organizational reviews, business process redesigns and feasibility studies.
  • Business Support Services: Consultants within this sub-sector assist in areas such as human resources (HR), marketing, sales/business development initiatives, recruiting personnel or providing promotional materials. Additionally they may also offer advice on areas such as public relations (PR) campaigns, legal consultation or customer service implementation programs.
  • Financial Services & Advice: This involves consulting services that are related to financial matters; examples include accounting support services such as taxation legislation compliance assistance or setting up accounting systems for businesses; other activities could include venture capital strategies investment assistance experience leading mergers & acquisitions negotiations or general budgeting advice for an organization.
  • IT & Telecommunications Consulting: Professional IT consultants offer evaluation reliable data storage procedures set up communication networks integrate hardware & software arrange security systems monitor bandwidth performance analyze algorithms offering technical support to end users as well other technology related services tailored to individual business requirements.

Types of Consultants

Consulting is growing rapidly in various industries and the types of consultants vary greatly. Knowing the various different types of consultants, along with their specialisations, can help you identify which type of consultant is best suited for your organisation or project. Let’s take a look at the various types of consultants and the services they provide:

  • Strategy consultants
  • Financial consultants
  • Marketing consultants
  • Technology consultants
  • Human resources consultants
  • Organisational development consultants
  • Business process consultants
  • Risk management consultants
  • Legal consultants
  • Operations consultants

Management Consultants

Management consultants are professionals who advise business leaders, usually with the goal of increasing efficiency and profitability. Management consultants leverage their deep understanding of businesses, industries, and markets to deliver structured problem-solving solutions. In some firms, management consultants may serve a broad range of duties from strategic planning to financial analysis and even HR services.

Management consulting is an ever-evolving field; the types of services they offer may vary greatly depending on changing economies, markets, and consumer trends.

The most common type of consultant hired by businesses is a management consultant. These professionals advise executives on issues related to virtually every aspect of operating a company—from operations strategy to financial analysis to human resources management. They often evaluate current protocols in order to identify weaknesses or potential areas for improvement and then provide sound solutions that make sure goals are met without wasting valuable resources or time.

Other kinds of management consultancy work includes helping companies adjust their structures as well as advising them on mergers and acquisitions or restructuring procedures in order for increased profitability or market share gain.

Management consultants also offer consultative services regarding critical changes that need attention within their client’s operations during times of crisis. In these situations, there is often an urgent need for guidance from experienced external experts with specific industry expertise – this could range from helping organizations manage during a pandemic situation or executing crucial cost-saving strategies due to an economic slowdown in order to maintain long-term success.

Technology Consultants

Technology consultants offer knowledge specific to the field of information and communications technology (ICT). They are experts in a variety of disciplines ranging from web development and systems engineering to database architecture and software design. Technology consultants help clients optimize their IT projects through the provision of technical advice, project management, system implementation, and training.

Within this wide-ranging category are a number of different subcategories that each have their own particular characteristics. Expertise in one of these key technology areas is vital if an individual is to be considered a successful consultant in this industry:

  • Software Development: These consultants specialize in creating customized software solutions for businesses. This could include software applications, databases, or enterprise systems.
  • Information Security: IT security consultants can provide advice on the best ways to protect data from cyberattacks. They may also design security protocols or audit existing ones.
  • Network Engineering: A network engineer assesses and designs computer networks for organizations. This type of expert has extensive knowledge about network layers, routing protocols, firewalls, network hardware requirements etc.,
  • Data Science: A data science consultant helps companies glean insights from large volumes of structured and unstructured data with various types of analysis methods. They may also create machine learning models for predictive analytics or develop automation solutions with AI algorithms and so on.
  • Project Management: A project manager specializing in ICT helps customers plan information system projects by overseeing them from beginning to end while facilitating communication between stakeholders throughout the process.

Financial Consultants

Financial consultants provide a specialized service for individuals or organizations. They use their expertise to provide in-depth analysis and advice related to money management, taxes, investments, and financial services. Financial consultants are often responsible for creating financial plans and budgets, evaluating accounting systems and procedures, forecasting economic trends, and managing finances in order to reach a goal or objectives.

A financial consultant may also be known as an investment consultant or an investment banker. Individuals with skills in economics, finance, and accounting can benefit from this type of career path. Consultants often have certifications such as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) accreditation in addition to a college degree.

Financial consultants will review current finances and establish benchmarks against which performance can be measured over time. Consultants typically work with clients on investments that seek to increase wealth through conservative risk management while providing advice on mortgages and life insurance policies when needed. Additionally financial consultants may provide guidance on retirement plans such as 401ks or Inherited IRA accounts within the parameters of the law.

Human Resources Consultants

Human Resources Consultants provide guidance and assistance in matters relating to personnel administration. This can include recruitment of qualified personnel, employee grievances, employee benefits and compensation, labor relations, health and safety compliance, training programs, and a variety of other issues concerning management/employee relations. They often possess a thorough understanding of HR policies, regulations and case law.

Human Resources Consultants typically bring specialized expertise in human resources measurement systems including metrics for evaluating performance management systems; job analysis methods; survey design; training designs/needs assessment; development of pay structures/salary studies as well as employee data analysis. They may also be called upon to help define career paths and suggest professional development solutions aligned with corporate goals. They are well-versed in terms of legal requirements concerning equal employment opportunities (EEO) such as affirmative action plans or sexual harassment guidelines.

Appropriately trained Human Resources Consultants can help business owners create or revise job descriptions to ensure that the organization meets state and federal requirements related to job security for their employees. This profession is in high demand due to the increased need for companies to have access to qualified HR experts who are familiar with all HR legalities as well as best practices surrounding HR operations.

Marketing Consultants

Marketing consultants provide advice and expertise to businesses that want to improve their performance in marketing. Their services may include developing and executing marketing strategies, creating and managing marketing campaigns, evaluating and recommending digital solutions such as SEO, search engine optimization, or analytics; creating media plans; and contributing to a company’s overall branding efforts. Marketing consultants often have expertise in a specific area, such as content marketing, advertising, public relations or market research. They may also be generalists with knowledge of all aspects of marketing.

Marketing consultants are often hired on a project-by-project basis because they can start quickly without investing time in onboarding them onto the team—which is why they can prove useful to companies looking for short-term assistance with focused tasks or campaigns. Depending on the project and company size however, marketers may also be considered full-time employees in some cases.

Examples of services provided by marketing consultants include:

  • Developing sales funnels;
  • Research on markets, competitors, industry trends or customer behavior;
  • Developing online ads such as Google Ads or pay per click (PPC) campaigns;
  • Devising email campaigns through platforms such as MailChimp or Constant Contact;
  • Creating content for websites or blogs including white papers, articles and other multimedia assets;
  • Creating press releases for PR distribution through outlets like Brandwire;
  • Conducting surveys for customer feedback:
  • Providing optimization analysis for search engines (SEO);
  • Organizing trade shows or products launches;
  • Market analysis including surveys and forecasting demand levels for products/services (marketing analytics);
  • Competitor profiling & benchmarking;
  • Running focus groups & qualitative insights studies;
  • Position testing & brand tracking using techniques like method laddering tracing root cause product issues etc.

Strategy Consultants

Strategy consultants work with organizations to help them develop, plan and implement their long-term goals. These consultants often focus on the creation and refinement of corporate strategies, but they may also help their clients execute these plans. These tasks typically require an extensive analysis of the client’s competitive advantages, along with a review of the potential threats that could prevent them from reaching their strategic objectives.

As part of their services, they will provide a detailed report of their findings and recommendations that can be used by the client as a roadmap for success.

Their services range from assisting in formulating and assessing overall strategies to developing core capabilities such as:

  • Market entry plans
  • Product strategies
  • Financial models

Strategy consultants might conduct market research such as primary and secondary sources to assess relevant trends and competitor behavior in order to develop tools such as price segmentation models or strategic positioning plans. They may also assist companies in developing new business processes to overcome business issues or address customer needs more effectively.

In addition, these experts can often provide implementation support through designing change management plans according to the strategy’s requirements, communicating with stakeholders involved in rollout activities and analyzing performance monitoring metrics for improvement areas within the organization.

Benefits of Consulting

Consulting is a great way to increase your knowledge and be able to provide specialized skills to your clients. By becoming a consultant, you can diversify your professional portfolio and increase the value of your services. Consulting can also help you build relationships with other professionals and give you exclusive access to information that you wouldn’t otherwise have.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of becoming a consultant:

Increased efficiency

Consulting can be an invaluable resource for increasing efficiency in your workplace. Consulting professionals are able to draw from vast resources and the latest advances in their field, as well as the experiences and knowledge of colleagues, to develop solutions that can create a positive impact for your business.

Consultants are often highly qualified individuals with a deep understanding of their industries, which allows them to provide insight into processes that allow businesses to operate more efficiently and profitably. From improving administrative practices and ensuring compliance with regulations to developing strategies for reaching targets and implementing cost-effective solutions, consulting can bring about significant improvements in the way things are done.

Furthermore, consultants bring an independent outside perspective which can improve decision making by providing objectivity and fresh insights into a situation or problem. Ultimately, through improved efficiency across all areas of operations, businesses can better meet their goals and objectives while achieving a greater return on their investments.

Cost savings

For clients, the cost savings associated with consulting can be highly attractive. Consultants usually charge on an hourly or project-by-project basis, so clients save money by only paying for work when it is needed. This is a great alternative to investing in permanent employees who earn a salary regardless of the workload. Additionally, utilizing consultants means that clients do not need to pay related costs such as benefits and other employment expenses.

Consultants also know their industry inside and out, bringing years of experience to their client projects and providing solutions which save time and money on large-scale initiatives. Because of their multifaceted expertise in multiple areas, they have a unique, unbiased perspective which can enhance efficiency in businesses of any size. A consultant’s ability to think outside the box often results in innovative ideas that are adeptly implemented while saving time and resources. By investing in consultants who hone their skills often through continuing education courses or certifications, clients benefit from exposure to new training and methods without having to invest themselves financially or logistically into such pursuits on a full-time basis.

Access to expertise

Consultants can provide access to a wealth of expertise that you may not otherwise have access to, in areas such as strategic planning, marketing, human resources, project management, and risk management. Consulting firms also employ experts who specialize in data analysis and technology optimisation. These specialists allow you to identify and bridge any gaps in your knowledge or processes and ensure that the core objectives of your business are met.

Having access to this deep pool of experienced professionals can help you get results faster. Clients benefit from their global network of consultants with varying skillsets who are able to advise on specific areas where they require assistance.

Often consultants have specialised experience or knowledge about certain industries or technologies, allowing them to offer an objective viewpoint which may be more valuable than information gained from an internal team member who some be too familiar with the situation. Additionally, clients often benefit from improved processes and new tools that consultants introduce as part of their work efforts which can increase efficiency beyond what was initially expected.

Improved decision making

Consulting can have a positive impact on decision-making, as it is often seen as an external source of insight, expertise and guidance. It provides access to current market trends and valuable knowledge that can inform decisions. Consultants complete detailed analysis and research to provide tailored information based on each individual business situation. This helps businesses identify or create the most efficient solutions for their problems, reducing the risk of ineffective solutions being implemented.

As consultants are normally equipped with innovative problem-solving techniques or unique ways of looking at certain scenarios, they help businesses streamline and improve operations. Consulting services allow businesses to take advantage of new processes or technologies that can further accelerate improvements; often assistance in strategizing and planning processes are also provided through consulting services. By having objective opinions that serve as a fresh perspective, corporate decisions become more effective and have better results in the long-term.

Challenges of Consulting

Modern consulting is a highly competitive and ever-changing industry. With companies wanting to cut costs and outsource projects, the pressure on consultants to deliver high-quality services to clients can be immense. Add to that the challenge of staying on top of the latest technologies and trends, and the pressure can be even harder.

Let’s take a look at the challenges faced by consultants in the modern industry:

Lack of trust

Trust is often a major obstacle facing consultants as they try to establish relationships with clients. Clients may have a hard time trusting consultants due in large part to the information asymmetry gap that exists between the consultant and client. Information asymmetry occurs when one party has more information than the other, which leads the less informed party to hold an unfavorable view of the arrangement. In most cases, clients are able to pinpoint issues and problems before engaging a consultant, resulting in hesitancy about whether or not engaging a consultant’s services will provide benefits in solving their challenges.

In addition, many organizations lack sufficient functional processes and standards for monitoring projects and initiatives undertaken by external firms. This can also cause clients to be reticent about engaging consultants, as they may be disappointed by incomplete deliveries that are out of the consultant’s control. Consultants will thus need to build strong trust relations with their clients in order for projects to succeed or be considered successful by both parties involved. There needs to be clear communication of expectations from both sides, though this is easier said than done due to the aforementioned obstacles of trust and information asymmetry.

High cost

The consulting industry can be expensive, and this is one of the biggest challenges faced by consultants in the industry. In addition to charging for their time and expertise, many firms add additional costs for their services. This may include administrative fees, legal fees, travel costs as well as subcontractor expenses for specialized tasks. As a result, this increases the complexity of pricing a project and makes it difficult to accurately estimate budget requirements.

In some cases, clients may find it hard to afford the high cost associated with consulting services which can be limiting for consultants who are just starting out. Furthermore, price competition due to numerous vendors operating in the same market may lead to downward pressure on margins and create further difficulty in achieving a viable return on investments.

Lack of control

One of the biggest challenges for those working in consulting is a lack of control over their own destiny. Consultants are often used as a quick-fix for problems, and can be easily replaced if their work is unsatisfactory. This can lead to a sense of insecurity in the consultants’ minds, as well as leaving them feeling at the whim of whatever project they’ve been assigned to. Furthermore, consultants work on a wide range of projects with different end results, which can make it extremely difficult to find satisfaction in the accomplishments associated with them.

Finding your place in the consulting industry can take some time and effort. Many consultants report having to first gain trust and respect among coworkers, superiors and clients before they reach an optimal level of success. This challenge cannot be taken lightly: there are many possible pitfalls while navigating a sea full of different obstacles both external and internal to your company or client. Consulting requires not only technical know-how, but also soft skills such as interpersonal communication, collaboration and negotiation that are essential for any successful venture or project presentation.

The lack of control over their own career might leave some professionals feeling frustrated; financial risk regarding contracts makes it difficult to plan ahead financially; workloads may be inconsistent due to the need for freelance contracts; and there’s an inability to fully immerse oneself in any single workplace or job setting for long periods at time because most contracts are short-term agreement that involve recurring changes across multiple assignments. Additionally, performance bonuses may not always correlate directly with performance making it difficult to determine what kind of effect changes within the workplace or particular projects had on one’s overall success rate within a specific timeline – this often leads consultancies emphasizing quantity rather than quality work due largely to their unpredictable workflows.

Difficulty in measuring success

Measuring success in any consulting project can be a difficult task – and the more complex the project, the harder it becomes. It is important to accurately assess outcomes levels of success not just for the client’s satisfaction but also for setting realistic goals from the beginning and tracking progress accordingly. Oftentimes, due to lack of clear metrics or standards for evaluation, there is difficulty in ascertaining whether or not a particular solution was successful on a wider scale. Achieving specific objectives or even metrics isn’t always enough; consultation must also be able to answer questions and provide benefits that add long-lasting value.

The challenge lies in measuring long-term outcomes and assessing whether the consulting engagement achieved tangible benefits and enabled an effective transition to business as usual or problem resolution. To address this difficulty, consultants should use qualitative measures as a gauge as well as quantitative ones; monitoring customer/stakeholder reaction is often highly effective. There are various ways such feedback can be collected including surveys, one-to-one interviews and focus groups – utilizing all production levels from operational staff to upper management.

Gathering opinions along with hard data makes it easier to explore possible causes of failure – if any exist – before present them to clients in order for them to make informed decisions on how best to progress with their projects.


With the advancement of the consultant industry, there are now more and more options available to people who are looking to hire a consultant. While there are some industry-specific classifications, understanding the broad categories can help you make the right decision.

In this article, we’ve gone over the five consultant industry classifications and the types of services they offer. We hope this article has given you the insight you need to make an informed decision about who you should hire for your project.

Summary of consultant industry classification

The consultant industry is varied and complex, making it difficult to define exactly what a consultant is and the types of consulting services that are available. The best way to understand the consultant industry is by breaking it down into different types based on the area of expertise, such as business consulting, information technology consulting, financial consulting, etc.

Within each of these broad categories there are further subdivisions that can provide greater insight into the specific type of services offered by consultants in that field. For example, within business consulting there are subcategories such as human resources consultation and management consultancy that provide more detail about what kind of advice and help a consultant can provide to a company.

At its core, any type of consulting service falls into one of the following four categories:

  • Strategic planning
  • Operations improvement
  • Process reengineering
  • Project management

though some specialists may offer overlapping services at various points in their practice. Ultimately, it’s important for businesses seeking consultancy help to have a good understanding of which type they need so they can ensure they hire someone who has the right skills and experience required for their particular purpose.

Benefits and challenges of consulting

Working as a consultant offers many advantages, including the potential for a high income, access to lucrative clients and opportunities to develop relationships with people from many industries. Consulting also offers considerable autonomy, since consultants usually work independently or in small teams. That said, there are also certain challenges associated with being a consultant.

For one thing, while consulting has the potential to be very profitable, it can be difficult to make crunching numbers or researching data exciting. Additionally, most consulting gigs are short-term and don’t offer long-term job stability. This means that consultants need to continually develop their skills and find new clients in order to stay successful. Additionally, it is essential for consultants to have the right qualifications in order to work in the industry – this includes having relevant experience and certain professional certifications or degrees. Finally, depending on the sector they work in and their individual circumstances, consultants may be required pay self-employment tax and manage their own employee benefits package.