Mainly I'll answer this question for university graduates who are just starting their careers. If you are already established as an expert then just skip down the the final paragraph.
If you have just graduated then it's unlikely that you would be considered an expert in what you do. Students who have done post-graduate studies often think that they should be considered experts because of this. Generally when seeking employment a post-graduate degree (including a doctorate) will only help if you are seeking work in a research or academic environment - AFAIK those organizations don't hire consultants except in very rare situations.
So as a graduate you won't be considered an expert. This doesn't mean that you can't get a consulting role, just that you can't get one in a sane organization. There are certain large consulting organizations that will hire graduates and send them out to client sites. But if you join one you'll be a permanent employee with an average income and you won't feel like a serious consultant. Basically you are unlikely to start consulting straight out of university (there are some companies that hire graduates on consultant rates - I don't know why they do it but if they do it for you then good luck)!
OK so now you are asking what you have to do first? Well that's simple, just become an expert at something! ;) I believe that the best way to do this is to work for a clueful company. Generally this means not working for a large company as they generally have too much beuracracy. If you work for a small (less than 100 employees) consulting, outsourcing, or software development company then you are likely to find yourself in a clueful environment. Then you have to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. After a few years you should then have an opportunity to seek consulting work. Be aware though that such small companies generally pay less than big companies would. In the long term you will be better off by working where you can learn the most rather than where you can earn the most.
Now generally people don't just follow this plan to become a consultant (I only know of one person who planned their career like this). They usually work for some sort of consulting company and then get unsatisfied for some reason which causes them to quit, then becoming an independant consultant will seem like a good idea if they have the skills.

How do I get work as an independant consultant?
Back to main consultant pages.

Copyright © 1999 Russell Coker, may be distributed freely.