An Information Technology (IT) Consultant is a constantly developing role in modern businesses. Further, alternative titles for this job include IT project lead, IT programme manager, and IT project manager. In fact they all mean the same thing. All of them are a person who develops, installs and maintains computer hardware and software systems.
The role of IT Consultants is absolutely critical to any organisation dealing with a significant amount of information. The work can often be repetitive. You will need care and focus to ensure the information systems of an organisation are managed appropriately.
IT consultants are in-demand professionals. You will develop IT solutions on behalf of companies. Because of this, a successful IT consultant can make a big difference in a company’s efficiency. Because of the importance of their role, working in this field can be a rewarding career choice.
IT consultants are employed within software companies or management consultancies. You will also find them in large computing manufacturers, financial services, transport and health services.
Some IT consultants work with other firms. You can be hired out to other businesses to install and maintain computer software or hardware.
A number of IT consultants also work for themselves as self-employed.
What Does an Information Technology Consultant Do
The work of an Information Technology Consultant is to help to manage the information systems and needs of an organisation. Whether or not a person is working in a single office or hired out to support other companies, the type of work they will undertake will include:
- You will be implementing IT systems for the best effect for businesses. In other words, you will be developing systems to manage information and data. This will include implementing cybersecurity.
- Working in meetings to develop outlines of problems and solutions in IT is part of your daily work. Some of your time will spent working out the risks related to different options.
- You will often be installing new hardware and software.
- Monitoring progress is a core task for you. In fact, the job also calls project management skills and software. This will enable you to manage the project team effectively. It will cover aspects such as timescales, budgets and resources. With this information you will need to keep clients and senior managers informed in language they can understand.
- A core part of your work will be analysing problems and diagnosing the causes. Once you have done this, you can move on to find and implement solutions.
- Some of your time will also be spent on repair work on existing IT systems.
Who Employs Information Technology Consultants
Information Technology Consultants generally work in two types of ways. Most are employed by businesses or public bodies to assist with information technology. Those employed by businesses are private sector employees, while those in public bodies are public sector employees.
Some IT consultants are hired out to other businesses. They work installing and maintaining computer software or hardware.
You will also find that a number of IT consultants also work for themselves. They are classed as self-employed. They will also work with other businesses to install and maintain computer software or hardware.
Job Salary for an Information Technology Consultant
The official UK Government statistics on the job salary for an Information Technology Consultant are revealing. The indicate the starting wage is £34,000. This rises to £60,000 for experienced IT consultants.
A second source indicates that the salary for graduate IT consultants is between £20,000 and £30,000. With further experience, this can rise to between £32,000 and £40,000. Another source estimates the average Information Technology Consultant’s salary in the UK to be £49,604. This is based on a recorded minimum of £23,000. The maximum salary is placed as high as £99,999.
Some other figures are useful to allow you to compare salaries. In the UK, the national average wage is estimated to be around £30,000 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The current National Living Wage (which must be paid to people aged 23 and over) means the minimum untaxed income for a 40-hour week is over £21,000 per year.
As with other jobs, there are significant regional differences in the salary of an information technology consultant in different parts of the UK. IT consultants in London and the South East of England are, like other professions, paid more than in other parts of the UK.
There will also be large differences in salary for IT consultants. This will depend on the type of institutions where you are located. Large firms will generally pay more than small ones.
How Often is an Information Technology Consultant Normally Paid
Information technology consultants will usually be paid a salary every month.
Who Negotiates a Job Salary for an Information Technology Consultant
Information technology consultants working for someone else will be hired at a set salary. If you are working off-site with a client, then your employer will have negotiated the fee level for the work. You will then be paid from that sum.
What Sort of Contracts Do Information Technology Consultants Have
Information technology consultants will usually have a fixed contract. This will have clear rates of pay, working hours and a specific job description.
Earning Potential of an Information Technology Consultant
Senior IT consultants who work in specialised areas can expect to earn between £40,000 to £80,000. This variation depends on demand.
Contract work is also available. If you are a contractor you can expect to earn between £150 to £550 a day.
As you can see, the job has good earning potential. Even junior IT consultants can make an additional income by doing overtime with their companies.
How to Become an Information Technology Consultant
There are five main routes to becoming an IT consultant:
- Working towards this role within a firm is a possible career route. This is especially true since this is an emerging and dynamic area of work. You may be able to start as an assistant project manager if you’ve got experience of working in IT.
- Applying directly to a company is another option. If you want to apply directly for jobs you’ll usually need some qualifications that demonstrate your skills and aptitude for this type of work. This can sometimes be experience-based.
- Training with a professional body is helpful. This can help with your career development. Examples are the Association for Project Management or the Project Management Institute.
- Undertaking a university or college course.
- Taking an appropriate apprenticeship.
If you choose to study a degree that’s not specifically related to IT, then it helps to do work experience or another activity to show a genuine interest in the field.
If you are interested in becoming an IT consultant, there are also recruiters who specialise in this field. They actively take on graduates for consultancy roles.
IT consultants are employed within software companies and management consultancies. You can also find them in large computing manufacturers or dealing with financial services. Others are engaged with transport and health services.
Qualifications/Courses – Information Technology Consultant
Larger employers may ask for a relevant university degree. This will be in a subject like computing, information systems, project management, and business management. There are also some industry employers who have created their own degrees. These usually combine theoretical teaching with skill training and work placements. To get into university to study these sorts of subjects you will normally need 2 or 3 A-Levels. A degree will normally take you three years to complete.
Some Senior IT Consultants may also have a postgraduate degree in computing or a similar field. You will need a university degree to do this.
You can also take an apprenticeship route. A project manager higher or a degree apprenticeship is the right first step. You can then do a digital and technology solutions degree apprenticeship and move into the role after getting project management experience. To begin either of these apprenticeships, the usual entry requirements are 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A level, or equivalent.
General Skills Required
- You should have leadership qualities within a team. This includes being capable of delegating tasks. You also need to keep staff focused. You must be confident that all members of the team understand the shared common goal.
- Good listening skills are needed by you. This will help you to tailor IT solutions to precise problems and requirements.
- A positive attitude to problem-solving is needed to be a successful IT consultant. Above this, you will also need persistence and determination.
- You need to have empathy and patience when dealing with people. It is important to remember not everyone will have your level of expertise in IT.
- Some Information Technology Consultants work alone rather than as part of a team. In those cases, the ability to use your initiative is very important. Also, you need to have a proactive mindset.
- A good memory is helpful since the work can often be repetitive. In these circumstances it is important not to lose track.
- You must be a good team player within a wider team. This includes having the ability to work constructively with others carrying out aligned tasks in information technology.
- You must always respect confidentiality relating to data and financial records.
- Organisation and time management skills are always needed. This will enable you to match your workload and multiple streams of work. Resourcefulness, project management, and prioritisation are important. They all enable effective workflow management.
- A driving licence is essential if you work in different locations as an IT consultant.
Specific IT Skills of an Information Technology Consultant
- Wide knowledge of IT systems is essential. You should also know about software networks, APIs and even AI.
- The ability to apply creative thinking helps companies make the most out of their IT systems. This enables you to improve system efficiency and reach goals.
- IT consultants who travel to other offices will often need to undertake promotion and marketing activities. You will need to do this to build up your brand and business.
- You will benefit from superb mathematical skills.
- The ability to monitor your own performance and that of your colleagues is an asset.
- Strong communication skills are needed to explain concepts and solutions. This should be done in a way non-IT specialists can understand. This also applies to maintaining correspondence when monitoring a project. You also need to be confident in presenting solutions and results.
- You may need to offer basic training on using software and hardware to clients or other team members.
Challenges of Being an Information Technology Consultant
- Information technology can be complicated. Knowing the scope of your abilities is important. If IT issues go beyond your scope of abilities, you need to respond accordingly. In these circumstances it is the appropriate action is to refer the issue to a more senior or specialised person in the IT team.
- You will need appropriate judgement at all times. This is because it is essential to identify problems and glitches. Additionally, you will also need to exercise skill in every aspect of your work. Remember that small mistakes can sometimes grow into big problems.
- The work can sometimes feel boring and fruitless.
- Some IT consultants are hired by other companies to install and maintain hardware and software. The size of these projects can vary. If you are that type of IT consultant, then you can expect to work away from home a lot. Sometimes you will be assigned to a project for weeks or months.
Type of Person Suited for this Work
- You should be a methodical person with a patient outlook. Along with this, you should be able to deal with stress.
- A positive attitude to problem-solving is needed for you to be a successful information technology consultant. This means you need to be someone who can deal with detail and spot potential problems.
- The ability to work alone is very important. This is because as an IT consultant, you need to have a proactive mindset. You will also need to use your initiative.
- You need to be a good communicator. This means you should be able to communicate complicated IT concepts in a way that others can easily understand.
General Expected Working Hours
It is estimated that IT consultants within companies work around 37 to 39 hours a week. You can expect to work around 8 hours a day Monday to Friday. This will usually be between 8 am and 6 pm. Although IT consultants generally work normal office hours, clients in this industry often need IT consultants to be responsive to demand. This can mean you working extra hours. There will also be occasional evening work.
Location of Work
IT Consultants are usually employed by companies. This will mean you will work in an office. Further, some IT consultants are hired to install software and hardware in other places. So if you follow this career path you can work in different locations.
Some IT consultants also work remotely from their homes.
IT consultants have a wide range of career prospects. If you are working freelance you can build your business and maybe hire others. If you are working for a company, then with experience you could become an information technology manager. In consulting firms there is often the opportunity for promotion and career progression. Perhaps you could to become a partner.
IT consultants working as independent contractors are different. In fact, they can be more limited in terms of career growth compared to those working in consulting firms.
Some IT consultants also specialise in an area. Examples of specialism are cyber security or technical architecture.