What Is the Best Degree Path to Becoming an IT Consultant?

If you have creativity, business sense and communication skills to match your technical aptitude, a career as an information technology (IT) consultant could be for you. These experienced IT professionals work with clients like businesses to advise, plan and carry out initiatives to improve the client’s information technology systems. To become an IT consultant, you will need education and experience, beginning with a college degree.

The Perks of IT Consulting

IT consultants are among the top paying jobs for students who make the decision to major in computer science and mathematics, with experienced professionals earning a median salary of $94,500 per year. There’s more to like about being an IT consultant. In fact, CNN Money listed IT consultant high on its 2012 “Best Jobs in America” list, citing not only the high pay rate but also the potential for repeat business and thus future job stability for consultants who prove their value to clients. Many IT consultants are self-employed, so they get to enjoy benefits such as being their own boss and setting their own rates and schedules.

Getting an IT Education

Unlike many other occupations, there is no easy and linear path to becoming an IT consultant. However, the first step toward this career is also the most common. To be capable of advising potential clients, you must first know the basics of the field of information technology. That means going to a college or university and earning a bachelor’s degree, usually in a major such as computer science, mathematics, computer engineering or information technology. A few of the courses you should expect to complete include programming, information security, web development, database fundamentals software engineering and computer architecture. If you aspire to becoming a self-employed consultant, then you may find that courses in business, marketing and communication can also benefit you.

After graduation, you will need some experience before you become an IT consultant. Often, aspiring IT consultants begin their careers in entry-level positions such as IT technician, information technology specialist or computer support specialist. Here they develop and prove their skills. It’s important for aspiring IT consultants to specialize, according to Computerworld. They must also make a name for themselves and know how to market their services and skills, TechRepublic reported. During their careers as IT professionals, aspiring consultants might also seek certification in a relevant specialization to prove their knowledge, skills and dedication.

While you won’t start out your career in information technology as an IT consultant, you can prepare for it during your college career by sharpening your business and communication skills as well as developing your computer science skills. By working hard to stand out from others in your field, you will begin to make a name for yourself. It can take several years for IT professionals to become sufficiently skilled and well-known to establish a successful consulting career, but the benefits of this occupation are well worth the time spent preparing for it.

Brenda Rufener

Julie McCaulley

Carrie Sealey-Morris