As business becomes more complex, firms are continually faced with new challenges. They increasingly rely on management analysts to help them remain competitive amidst these changes. Management analysts, often referred to as management consultants in private industry, analyze and propose ways to improve an organization's structure, efficiency, or profits.
For example, a small but rapidly growing company might employ a consultant who is an expert in just-in-time inventory management to help improve its inventory-control system. In another case, a large company that has recently acquired a new division may hire management analysts to help reorganize the corporate structure and eliminate duplicate or nonessential jobs. In recent years, information technology and electronic commerce have provided new opportunities for management analysts. Companies hire consultants to develop strategies for entering and remaining competitive in the new electronic marketplace.
Management analysts might be single practitioners or part of large international organizations employing thousands of other consultants. Some analysts and consultants specialize in a specific industry, such as healthcare or telecommunications, while others specialize by type of business function, such as human resources, marketing, logistics, or information systems. In government, management analysts tend to specialize by type of agency. The work of management analysts and consultants varies with each client or employer and from project to project. Some projects require a team of consultants, each specializing in one area. In other projects, consultants work independently with the organization's managers. In all cases, analysts and consultants collect, review, and analyze information in order to make recommendations to managers.
Both public and private organizations use consultants for a variety of reasons. Some lack the internal resources needed to handle a project, while others need a consultant's expertise to determine what resources will be required and what problems may be encountered if they pursue a particular opportunity. To retain a consultant, a company first solicits proposals from a number of consulting firms specializing in the area in which it needs assistance. These proposals include the estimated cost and scope of the project, staffing requirements, references from previous clients, and a completion deadline. The company then selects the proposal that best suits its needs. Some firms, however, employ internal management consulting groups rather than hiring outside consultants.
After obtaining an assignment or contract, management analysts first define the nature and extent of the problem that they have been asked to solve. During this phase, they analyze relevant data—which may include annual revenues, employment, or expenditures—and interview managers and employees while observing their operations. The analysts or consultants then develop solutions to the problem. While preparing their recommendations, they take into account the nature of the organization, the relationship it has with others in the industry, and its internal organization and culture. Insight into the problem often is gained by building and solving mathematical models, such as one that shows how inventory levels affect costs and product delivery times.
Once they have decided on a course of action, consultants report their findings and recommendations to the client. Their suggestions usually are submitted in writing, but oral presentations regarding findings are also common. For some projects, management analysts are retained to help implement their suggestions.
Like their private-sector colleagues, management analysts in government agencies try to increase efficiency and worker productivity and to control costs. For example, if an agency is planning to purchase personal computers, it must first determine which type to buy, given its budget and data-processing needs. In this case, management analysts would assess the prices and characteristics of various machines and determine which ones best meet the agency's needs. Analysts may manage contracts for a wide range of goods and services to ensure quality performance and to prevent cost overruns.
Management analysts held about 907,600 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of management analysts were as follows:
- Professional, scientific, and technical services - 31%
- Government - 17%
- Self-employed workers - 16%
- Finance and insurance - 13%
- Management of companies and enterprises - 5%
Management analysts usually divide their time between their offices and the client’s site. Because they must spend a significant amount of time with clients, analysts travel frequently. Analysts may experience stress, especially when trying to meet a client’s demands on a tight schedule.
Analysts often work many hours under tight deadlines. Some work more than 40 hours per week.
Education & Training Required
Educational requirements for entry-level jobs in this field vary between private industry and government. Many employers in private industry generally seek individuals with a master's degree in business administration or a related discipline. Some employers also require additional years of experience in the field or industry in which the worker plans to consult. Other firms hire workers with a bachelor's degree as research analysts or associates and promote them to consultants after several years. Some government agencies require experience, graduate education, or both, but many also hire people with a bachelor's degree and little work experience for entry-level management analyst positions.
Few universities or colleges offer formal programs in management consulting; however, many fields of study provide a suitable educational background for this occupation because of the wide range of areas addressed by management analysts. Common fields of study include business, management, accounting, marketing, economics, statistics, computer and information science, or engineering. Most analysts also have years of experience in management, human resources, information technology, or other specialties. Analysts also routinely attend conferences to keep abreast of current developments in their field.
Other Skills Required
Management analysts often work with minimal supervision, so they need to be self-motivated and disciplined. Analytical skills, the ability to get along with a wide range of people, strong oral and written communication skills, good judgment, time-management skills, and creativity are other desirable qualities. The ability to work in teams also is an important attribute as consulting teams become more common.
How to Advance
As consultants gain experience, they often become solely responsible for specific projects, taking on more responsibility and managing their own hours. At the senior level, consultants may supervise teams working on more complex projects and become more involved in seeking out new business. Those with exceptional skills may eventually become partners in the firm and focus on attracting new clients and bringing in revenue. Senior consultants who leave their consulting firms often move to senior management positions at non-consulting firms. Others with entrepreneurial ambition may open their own firms.
A high percentage of management consultants are self-employed, in part because business startup and overhead costs are low. Since many small consulting firms fail each year because of lack of managerial expertise and clients, persons interested in opening their own firm must have good organizational and marketing skills. Several years of consulting experience are also helpful.
The Institute of Management Consultants USA, Inc. offers the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation to those who meet minimum levels of education and experience, submit client reviews, and pass an interview and exam covering the IMC USA's Code of Ethics. Management consultants with a CMC designation must be recertified every 3 years. Certification is not mandatory for management consultants, but it may give a jobseeker a competitive advantage.
Employment of management analysts is projected to grow 14 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.
About 99,400 openings for management analysts are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Demand for consulting services is expected to increase as organizations seek ways to improve efficiency and control costs. As markets become more competitive, firms will need to use resources more efficiently.
Demand for management analysts is expected to be strong in healthcare. This industry segment is experiencing higher costs in part because of an aging population. In addition, more management analysts may be needed to help navigate the regulatory environment within health insurance.
Information technology (IT) consultants are also expected to see high demand. Businesses will seek out consulting firms to help them attain a high level of cybersecurity and make sure their IT systems are efficient and up to date.
Growth is expected to be particularly strong in smaller consulting companies that specialize in specific industries or types of business function, such as information technology or human resources. Government agencies also are expected to seek the services of management analysts as they look for ways to reduce spending and improve efficiency.
The median annual wage for management analysts was $93,000 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $50,190, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $163,760.
In May 2021, the median annual wages for management analysts in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
- Professional, scientific, and technical services - $100,170
- Management of companies and enterprises - $96,940
- Finance and insurance - $83,050
- Government - $81,090
Management analysts working for consulting firms are usually paid a base salary in addition to a year-end bonus. Self-employed analysts are paid directly by their clients, typically by either the hour or the project.
Analysts often work many hours under tight deadlines. Some work more than 40 hours per week.