When a user has a computer problem they consult IT experts – occassionally, they’ll reach out to an internal IT helpdesk representative, but for large scale issues, a user may contact an IT Consultant. IT Consultants are able to answer questions and help with complex network and technology-related issues. These experts are responsible for developing improvements for the client’s computer and implementing them.
IT consultants can work for large businesses, consulting firms or as independent consultants. Large businesses may have a tech department to take care of their employees’ technology needs. A consulting firm is contracted by smaller businesses to help when problems arise or they need updates to their network and systems. An independent consultant works privately with clients, similar to an attorney or accountant works—building a personal list of clients and a business reputation.
- Are you able to multi-task? Often consultants are working on multiple problems at any one given time. You need to be able to juggle more than one task at a time.
- Do you have time-management skills? Learn how to budget your time wisely. Employers and clients will not appreciate extra time spent, and they will want you to meet deadlines regularly.
- Are you interested in continuing your education? Well after you graduate you will still be learning; you will need to keep up with the fast-paced changes going on in the technology world. If you aren’t interested in the need to continually learn new things, then this career path may not be right for you.
Education and Requirements
Education in this field depends on the exact position you are looking to be in. While some places will hire those with an associate degree or other post-secondary, many are only looking to hire those with a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences. With the rapid changes in modern technology, experience and a background with networks and computers will also be required.
Job Salary and Outlook
According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Computer User Support Specialists make an average salary of $50,330. Computer Network Support Specialists make an average of $63,540 each year.
Computer Support Specialists are expected to see an increase in job growth of 18 percent from 2010-2020 (about as fast as the average growth of most industries). The BLS estimates 607,100 available jobs will see another 110,000 added and notes that consultants with a bachelor’s degree and tech experience will have the best opportunities in this field.
Tips for IT Consultants:
1. Prepare for Being Tech Support
Small businesses that need help with a bug often will ask consultants for other computer-related help. Most likely, if the business doesn’t have its own IT department, then you will want to budget extra time for requests such as these.
2. Billing Up Front
Don’t wait until you’ve already performed a service or provided a product to be paid; have your clients pay deposits before the work is done. Create clear invoices to avoid confusion and give reminders to keep payments coming in on time. Building a healthy and easy relationships with a client is important and can be easily messed up in monetary disputes.
3. Creating Your Network
You are going to have to get out there. Your name and business (especially if you are independent) needs to be in the minds of tech users (which is everyone)! Attend seminars, business luncheons, or whatever you can get your teeth into to start meeting your next customers. The only way you will create a customer base is buy connecting with lots of people.