How To Become a Technical Consultant: All You Need To Know
Updated 26 January 2023
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Most companies today need technical consultants to ensure that their daily operations run smoothly. Their productivity depends on the safety of IT infrastructure and technology. Once you understand this role and its requirements, you can start applying for a job in this sector. In this article, we will discuss how to become a technical consultant, describe the responsibilities and daily roles and explain the steps you can take to start your career as one.
What is a technical consultant?
A technical consultant is someone who combines IT expertise and organisational skills to help businesses improve their efficiency. In this role, your responsibilities include:
designing and setting up the hardware and software solutions a company needs
improving IT systems
resolving complex technical issues
You need an advanced understanding of hardware and software solutions and network administration. You can work as an in-house expert, consulting for the management team on technological issues. Alternatively, you can choose to work as a freelance consultant and consult for businesses that need your services on a contractual basis.
How to become a technical consultant
Someone hiring a technical consultant looks for job seekers with the relevant education and experience in a related role. Here are six steps you can follow on how to become a technical consultant:
1. Complete class XII and earn a computer science or IT degree
Whether you are looking to be hired as a full-time employee or an independent contractor, most companies expect to see a bachelor's degree. After you pass class XII, enrol in a bachelor's degree that covers programming, networks and IT security. For example, a BE (Bachelor of Engineering) or B. Tech (Bachelor of Technology) degree in computer science engineering (CSE), information technology (IT) or information systems would cover these subjects.
You can join an AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) approved institute, or one of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) or National Institutes of Technology (NITs). Candidates for these institutions are screened through entrance examinations, like the Joint Entrance Examination-Advanced (JEE-Advanced) and the Joint Entrance Examination-Advanced (JEE-Advanced). Other universities may use your XII marks as qualifying criteria. Although a college degree is crucial when you apply for a technical consultant role, some companies may consider candidates with strong programming skills and a degree in an unrelated discipline, such as biology.
2. Build your work experience
As a graduate, boost your chances of getting hired by earning some valuable experience. At this stage, you can do this through an internship.
When you apply for an entry-level position, your experience as an intern puts you ahead of a similarly qualified person who lacks similar work experience. Additionally, an internship is an opportunity to be mentored by an experienced technical consultant. You can hone your skills and get a hands-on experience. Once you become a technical consultant, these skills help you to be effective in this role.
Related: What Are Internships and How Do You Find One?
3. Make professional connections
A strong network of fellow professionals is essential to any technical consultant. You may experience an unfamiliar issue when consulting for a company. Having good connections can help you overcome complexities and learn from them.
Your professional contacts can help you with references that improve your chances of getting hired, both for full-time jobs and freelance contracts. In addition, someone in your network may pass on job opportunities.
Related: What Is Business Networking? (With Benefits and Types)
4. Keep track of developing technology
It is necessary to stay updated and enhance your knowledge and skills with the current technological advancements and trends. As a technical expert, this can help you stay relevant in the current space.
You can stay updated with state-of-the-art technology from news media, blogs, courses, research papers and other reliable sources. This way, new security issues do not hinder you. In addition, you may find new, quicker ways to deal with familiar IT issues.
5. Consider postgraduate degrees
A master's degree enhances your knowledge and ability to handle more specialised responsibilities as a technical consultant. It can set you apart from your peers when you look for a job or a freelance opportunity.
This is useful whether you start as a fresh graduate or with experience. Even within the same company, a master's degree can help you qualify for a promotion. Some employers may agree to fund your higher education fully or partially subsidise your learning expenses.
How much do technical consultants make?
Your pay as a technical consultant varies based on your educational qualification, additional certification, work experience, location and the organisation where you work. On average, this position pays ₹8,40,506 per year in India.
Is technical consulting a good career?
As a technical consultant, you may often have to spend long hours at the office. Even as an independent contractor, a consultant may have to work extra hours. This is because the technology you work with is integral to your client organisation's productivity. Aside from long hours, on-site postings are quite common in this field. Accountability is also higher, which means that you take responsibility when there are system issues.
There are both benefits and disadvantages when you work as a consultant. Whether it is a suitable career is something you have to decide for yourself, by weighing the pros and cons.
What does a typical technical consultant's day look like?
A typical day of a technical consultant involves one or more of the following tasks:
meeting clients and project stakeholders to get briefed on project requirements
defining the parameters of a project, planning resources allocation, deliverables and timelines
building your knowledge of industry trends, technological advances and new solutions
developing, testing and implementing software solutions
taking charge of IT infrastructure improvements
using data modelling and analysis to help shape appropriate solutions
working with teams to create user manuals and training documentation
taking the lead on projects and providing expert guidance
What skills does a technical consultant need?
To be an effective technical consultant, you need to develop the skills it takes to succeed. This includes technical skills and intangible soft skills, such as:
If you want to be a capable technical consultant, you need to develop a detailed understanding of various technologies. Here are a few examples:
Testing software: You may use software tools to test solutions and identify issues. Being familiar with tools like HP LoadRunner is crucial.
Database management system (DBMS) software: Your work may involve data manipulation and storage. A tool that can process big data, such as Hadoop, can be a helpful asset.
Web development software: Get familiar with tools to build websites for your clients.
IT infrastructure: As a consultant, you deal with organisations' hardware infrastructure as well. Extensive knowledge of servers and other hardware components can help you.
Operation systems: Your client might work with an OS like LINUX, which means you have to be well-versed in various operating systems.
Big data: Most companies today have realised the significance of big data. They often work with patterns and trends in data dumps, so they are likely to prefer a technical consultant who can understand this technology.
Related: Hard Skills: Definition and Examples
You can develop various technical abilities, but there is more to being a consultant. The following intangible soft skills help you develop the personality attributes of a successful technical consultant.
A passion for the industry: The technical consulting sector pays handsomely, but develop a genuine interest in the field. This way, you would not need any push to keep learning new technology, ideas and opportunities.
An open-minded approach: A technical consultant often needs to think beyond the traditional way of doing things. When the tried-and-tested solution does not work, you need to get creative and try new and unexpected ideas to arrive at a solution that works.
A need for knowledge: Being successful in the consulting industry means being a passionate learner, always looking into new technology and courses that help you become an expert in these areas. This drive helps you stay updated and in demand as a consultant.
Working with a team: In this industry, it is always more likely that you work as part of a group. Effective collaboration makes your team more capable than the sum of the individuals who are part of it.
Efficient communication: This helps you develop cordial and smooth professional relationships with your teammates, boosting productivity. It also helps you interact with clients and gain the trust of non-tech client stakeholders.
Related: Importance of Soft Skills in the Workplace
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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