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Career Guide: How to Become a Project Management Consultant

The project management consultant or project consulting (PM) job position continues to grow in relevance across the business world within dozens of industries and specialized sectors. These professionals typically boast significant project management experience. However, instead of working as a PM for a single, direct employer, they serve as a consultant for multiple organizations, extending their specialized project knowledge to many. In short, a PM consultant in business follows a similar employment model as other technology consultants, like some software engineers or network administrators.

Needless to say, intriguing PM consulting jobs are available in abundance across the country. Notably, a PM consultant serves on a temporary or project basis without the full responsibility of the direct project manager. For this scenario, the PM consultant offers advice and helpful insights from an outside perspective on the current initiative they are hired to provide their expertise. Additionally, they will likely have the specialized understanding and unique know-how the project team needs to solve a complex and pressing problem.

Professional Recruiters Share Everything There is to Know About PM Consulting Jobs

If you boast PM experience but want the flexibility and interesting work of a consultant, read further. Below, we cover the duties of this position and provide insights into the necessary skills and experience you need to be successful in this role. Use this information to get any training and expertise you may need to take your career into the flexible and rewarding employment arrangement of contract work.

Additionally, you might also want to earn a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification or similar designation qualifying your experience in this area. It adds a measure of weight and precedence to your resume when searching for PM consulting assignments. In the end, partnering with a professional recruiter helps you source opportunities, both locally and nationally.

What Does a Project Management Consulting Job Entail?

As highlighted above, consulting project professionals generally help directly employed project managers with their current project. In most cases, they provide specific expertise and an outside perspective related to the initiative or challenge. For example, consider a scenario where the directly employed project manager has no experience with machine learning software or processes. So, the company brings in someone with a track record of successfully managing these types of projects.

Other duties for a consulting PM generally mimic those for a permanent project manager, including the following:

  • Coordinating the production launch for the product or service built during the project.
  • Providing helpful analysis of the project performance to date and accurate forecasting for the rest of the initiative’s scheduled timeline.
  • Either managing or assisting the project manager in PM-related duties throughout the project’s timeline.
  • Risk management for the project, including the identification of any risks worth exploring to improve the product or service or speed up the
  • Offering strategies to optimize the production of the service, application, or product in question on the current initiative.

Again, a PM consultant acting as an assistant project manager on the current undertaking works well for a definition. Most of the skills of the two roles remain the same. However, a PM consultant might possess the unique experience or external knowledge the current project needs for success.

How to Become a Consulting Project Manager

Not surprisingly, the requirements for a consultant PM tend to be more rigorous when compared to standard project managers. Still, both job roles possess similar requirements for education, skills, and basic experience, as highlighted earlier. At this point, a consulting PM usually must provide more depth in certain industries, processes, or software specialties.

Remember that companies typically leverage PM consultants to gain access to specific expertise needed for a successful outcome. Therefore, consulting PMs benefit from specializing in certain types of projects. This focused experience makes them more attractive as a candidate to interested companies.

Educational Requirements

For any project manager – consulting or not – a bachelor’s degree remains a hard requirement. Possessing a technology degree definitely helps with projects related to software or hardware. However, other relevant majors include business management, finance, accounting, and marketing.

An advanced degree carries more weight in the eyes of many hiring managers. Still, a PM with a bachelor’s degree and a significant amount of managerial experience remain an attractive candidate. Note that an MBA especially provides consulting PMs with a high-level business education highly suitable for this job role.

Job Experience Requirements

All project managers need relevant experience in leadership before they transition into a PM consulting role. This might be gained by serving as a senior software engineer, a product manager, or a technical team lead. Also, consider earning experience by volunteering on projects for a non-profit or charitable organization.

Once again, a consulting PM typically provides organizations with specific experience and expertise. In most cases, consider them to be effectively a senior project manager when considering their professional history. As noted earlier, expect a PMP certification to be a hard requirement for PM-related consulting opportunities; it helps when competing for roles with other consulting PMs.

What are the Skills Needed for Project Management Consulting Jobs?

Naturally, a successful PM consultant boasts many of the same skills as project managers themselves. In addition, a strong set of both verbal and written communication skills are a must. The latter especially makes a difference when interacting with high-level project teams and business stakeholders.

Additionally, the best PM consultants boast exceptional emotional maturity and people skills. These abilities ensure they remain calm and focused on providing leadership during a difficult project. Next, let’s take a closer look at a few other critical skills needed by any experienced PM consultant.

Leadership Skills

As highlighted above, strong leadership skills remain essential for anyone working in project management. It’s also a major reason companies regularly look for potential leaders among their current employees. The best PM consultants understand how to delegate responsibilities to keep the entire project team engaged. They also know how to foster collaboration and teamwork on project teams while also being well-versed in conflict resolution and change management.

Organizational Abilities

Obviously, any PM consultant needs exemplary organizational skills. They must also understand how to craft detailed project plans, including work breakdown structures, while identifying the critical path. Consulting PMs might also have other duties assisting the current/primary project manager. Keeping track of these other responsibilities requires someone who is organized with the ability to multitask.

Analytical Skills

An exceptional ability for analysis differentiates the top PM consultants from the rest of the pack. It becomes especially crucial when trying to determine the cause of missed deadlines on a project. Many times, consulting PMs get tasked with making data-driven decisions related to the project goals. Top-shelf data analysis abilities are incredibly useful in this scenario.

What is the Job Outlook for Consulting Project Managers?

The demand for PM consultants continues to increase, with lucrative salaries available as a result. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts the number of consulting project managers to grow by 11 percent over the next decade. Expect a similar increase in opportunities for general/traditional project managers as well.

At the same time, the average annual salaries for PM consultants are also predicted to increase. The current average salary remains slightly lower than $98,000 per year. Of course, working as a consultant also provides lucrative earnings potential. This is the case, especially when working for an hourly rate. Note that enterprises and larger organizations tend to pay higher rates when compared to startups and smaller businesses.

How to Find a Project Management Consulting Job

Of course, if you’re ready to begin looking for the myriad of project consulting opportunities, an organized process remains critical. Update your résumé with a focus on your project management experience. You should also highlight your relevant skills and certifications, including your PMP designation.

Whenever you land an interview, remember that preparation and practice increase your chances of a job offer. Focus on your managerial experience, especially as a PM consultant if you previously worked in that role. Additionally, with the number of remote project consultant opportunities increasing, vet the quality of your setup for video interviews. The same rule applies to having a well-appointed home office for remote work.

Browse Job Boards and Career Sites

Local job boards and career sites provide a good resource for potential PM-related consulting assignments. Post the updated version of your resume on those platforms to attract notice from hiring managers and recruiters, in addition to reaching out to colleagues from your professional network. Check out your local chapter of the Project management Institute (PMI) – providers of the PMP certification – as they might offer some help as well.

Due to the increasing number of remote PM consultant jobs, advertising your availability on LinkedIn and other social networks for professionals offers a useful resource for finding remote gigs. Any LinkedIn Groups for project managers serve as another resource for potential job opportunities or networking within various industries.

Work with a Professional Job Recruiter

Finally, partnering with an experienced recruiter known for placing project managers remains a wise option. Talented recruiters understand the current job market as well as the differences between project managers and PM consultants. A long-term and trusted partnership lets a recruiter understand your long-term professional goals and ideal compensation levels. This allows them to only present opportunities where you make a great fit.

Find a Project Management Consulting Job with the Top Professional Recruiters

When searching for professional recruiters in Minnesota and beyond, look no further than the team at Dahl Consulting. As one of the top talent placement agencies for consultants across the United States, we can help take your PM consulting career to the next level. Browse our professional job opportunities and apply today!