What’s Required

To be a successful consultant, you need a strong combination of two very specific but general things.  These two things are absolutely required.


Expert Level Knowledge and Skill


First and foremost, you need expert level knowledge and skill of the technology in the business area where you plan to provide consulting services.   Clients expect that consultants will have expert level knowledge and skill.  They would have no other reason to engage your services.


In my experience, I have encountered many people in this profession who simply do not have the necessary expertise.  Those people may have the ability to interview well but they lack the expert knowledge that is expected.  They use buzz words on their resumes and during interviews but cannot be successful because they just don't have the knowledge or skill that they claim to have.


 People who attempt to work as consultants who do not have the foundation to do the work can do serious damage to the profession.


My goal is to help qualified people join this profession but I never want to help anyone who is not qualified.


Strong Soft Skills


Soft skills are secondary to technological knowledge and skill but not by very much.  If a consultant does not have good soft skills, they will not be able to communicate effectively with their clients and their chances for success as a consultant will be weakened.  


A Degree is NOT Absolutely Required


Even though formal education is important, it is not absolutely required.  I have known a great many successful consultants who do not have formal degrees in the area where they work.  These people typically have strong technical skills and a long list of consulting roles on their resumes.  Recent experience seems to considered to be more important to some clients than a formal degree does.


A degree is most helpful when you are just entering the profession without any practical experience.  As you complete consulting projects, your formal education becomes less important and your practical experience becomes more important.


If you have strong technical skills and also have strong Soft Skills, do not let the lack of a degree  prevent you from exploring a career in consulting.