Career Information: Business & Legal

This industry is the fastest growing and one of the highest paying. Often working behind the scenes, these firms offer technical expertise, information, contacts, and tools that clients cannot provide themselves. They then work with their clients to provide a service or solve a problem.

SEE ALSO: PARALEGAL AND ACCOUNTING/PAYROLL ADMINISTRATION

 

SIGNIFICANT POINTS:

  • Job competition will be keen; the most educated and experienced workers will have the best job prospects.
  • About 21 percent of all workers are self-employed.
  • About 74 percent of workers have a bachelors or higher degree; 60 percent of all jobs are in managerial, business, financial, and professional occupations.

OCCUPATIONS IN THE INDUSTRY:

This industry comprises a variety of occupations. Some are specific to only one segment of the industry, whereas others, such as secretaries and administrative assistants, can be found throughout the industry.

There is a relatively high proportion of highly educated workers. About 42 percent have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 20 percent of workers throughout the economy. Around 32 percent have a master’s or higher degree, compared with 10 percent of workers throughout the economy. Certain jobs may have stringent entry requirements. For example, some management consulting firms prefer to hire only workers who have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA). Other positions can be attained only after many years of related experience.

Roughly 60 percent of employment consists of workers in management, business and financial operations occupations, and in professional and related occupations. These same occupational groups account for about 30 percent of workers across the entire economy.

Management, Business and Financial Operations Occupations: TOP EXECUTIVES, the largest managerial occupation in the industry, includes both the highest-level managers—such as chief executive officers and vice presidents—and many top managers with diverse duties. In consulting firms, top executives with partial ownership and profit-sharing privileges might be referred to as partners. Top-level managers or partners shape company policy, often with the help of other executives or a board of directors. They oversee all activities of the firm, coordinate the duties of subordinate executives and managers, and often bear ultimate responsibility for a firms performance. Mid-level managers or partners may oversee all the activities of one department or all the activities of one or more clients.

MANAGEMENT ANALYSTS, also called MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS, is the largest occupation in the management consulting industry. Their work is quite varied, depending on the nature of the project and the clients needs. In general, management consultants study and analyze business-related problems, synthesizing information from many sources, and recommend solutions. The solutions can include overhauling a clients computer systems, offering early retirement incentives to middle managers, recommending a switch in health plans, improving just-in-time inventory systems, hiring public relations firms, or selling troublesome parts of businesses. Because of the varied nature of these jobs, firms hire workers with diverse backgrounds, such as backgrounds in engineering, finance, actuarial science, chemistry, or business. Many firms require consultants to have an MBA, whereas others hire workers who have only a bachelors degree. Many workers have experience in other industries prior to entering management consulting work.

Other management and business and financial operations occupations include ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICE MANAGERS who typically administer a consulting firms support services. These managers oversee secretaries, data entry keyers, bookkeepers, and other clerical staff. In the management consulting services industry, they also often supervise a clients clerical and support staff and do consulting work in that area. ADVERTISING, MARKETING, PRMOTIONS, PUBLIC RELATIONS, and SALES MANAGERS oversee the consulting firm’s marketing and sales departments, researching and targeting new clients and also helping on consulting projects having to do with marketing. COMPUTE AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS MANAGERS ensure that the consulting firms computer and network systems are fully operational and oversee other computer and technical workers, such as computer support specialists. These managers might also supervise certain consulting projects involving computer and information technology. FINANCIAL MANAGERS prepare financial statements and assess the financial health of firms. Often, they must have at least a bachelors degree in accounting or finance. HUMAN RESOURCES, TRAINING, and LABOR RELATIONS MANGERS and SPECIALISTSENGINEERING and NATURAL SCIENCE MANAGERS oversee the engineers and scientists working for their consulting firms. ACCOUNTANTS and AUDITORS monitor firms financial transactions and often report to financial managers. More recently, accountants and auditors have been involved in consulting projects for clients involving the preparation of financial statements, tax strategy, budget or retirement planning, and the implementation of accounting software.

The rapid spread of computers and information technology has generated a need for highly trained computer specialists to design and develop new hardware and software systems and to incorporate new technologies. Systems analysts design new computer systems or redesign old systems for new applications. They solve computer problems and enable computer technology to meet their organizations particular needs. For example, a systems analyst from a management consulting firm might be hired by a wholesale firm to implement an online inventory database. COMPUTER SOFTWARE ENGINEERS, by contrast, can be involved in the design and development of software systems for the control and automation of manufacturing, business, and management processes. Other computer specialists include COMPUTER SUPPORT SPECIALISTS, who provide technical assistance, support, and advice to customers and users, and DATABASE ADMINISTRATORS, who work with database management systems software and determine ways to organize and store data. Computer specialists such as systems analysts, computer scientists, and computer engineers sometimes are referred to simply as consultants.

Technical workers also include computer programmers, who write programs and create software, often in close conjunction with systems analysts. Like systems analysts, these workers are found primarily in the business and management consulting segments of the industry. (For more information on similar careers, see the COMPUTERS & TECHNOLOGYCareer Information page)

Designers in this industry are mostly GRAPHIC DESIGNERS who use a variety of print, electronic, and film media to create designs that meet clients commercial needs. Using computer software, these workers develop the overall layout and design of magazines, newspapers, journals, corporate reports, and other publications. They also may produce promotional displays and marketing brochures for products and services and may design distinctive company logos for products and businesses. An increasing number of graphic designers develop material to appear on Internet homepages. (For more information on similar careers, see the  FASHION, ARTS & DESIGNCareer Information page)

Other professional and related workers include ECONOMISTS, MARKET AND SURVEY RESEARCHERS, LAWYERS, and ENGINEERING TECHNICIANS. Economists are employed by economic consulting firms to conduct economic research and advise clients on economic trends. Market and survey researchers are mainly employed by marketing consulting firms to conduct surveys and research on various topics. Lawyers are employed in virtually all management, scientific, and technical consulting industries to represent their consulting firms in case of a lawsuit and to advise the firms, as well as clients, on changes in laws and regulations pertaining to their areas of expertise. Engineering technicians aid engineers in research and development. Like engineers, these workers are found primarily in the business and management consulting segments of the industry.

Office and Administrative Support Occupations: Office and administrative support positions in management, scientific, and technical consulting services resemble those in other industries, and account for 26 percent of industry employment. Particularly numerous are SECRETARIES and ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANTS and BOOKKEEPING, ACCOUNTING, and AUDITING CLERKS, who record and classify financial data. The industry also employs many SUPERVISORS and MANAGERS of office and administrative support workers, who oversee the support staff, often reporting to administrative services managers.

Other Occupations: Management, scientific, and technical consulting services firms do not produce any goods and, as a result, employ relatively few services, sales, and production workers, who, together with the remaining occupational groups, make up only about 14 percent of industry employment.

EARNINGS:

Nonsupervisory wage and salary workers in the industry averaged $899 a week in 2006, compared with $579 for workers throughout private industry. Median hourly earnings in the largest occupations in management, scientific, and technical consulting appear below:

Median hourly earnings of the largest occupations in management, scientific, and technical consulting services, May 2006
Occupation Management, scientific, and technical consulting services All industries

General and operations managers

$58.97 $40.97

Management analysts

36.83 32.72

Business operations specialists, all other

26.42 26.76

Sales representatives, services, all other

25.86 23.12

Employment, recruitment, and placement specialists

25.51 20.40

Executive secretaries and administrative assistants

19.41 17.90

Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks

15.67 14.69

Customer service representatives

14.91 13.62

Secretaries, except legal, medical, and executive

13.07 13.20

Office clerks, general

11.14 11.40

 (The data above does not reflect earnings for self-employed workers, who often have high earnings.)

Both managerial workers and high-level professionals can make considerably more than the industry average. According to a 2006 survey conducted by Abbot, Langer, and Associates, the median annual total cash compensation for research associates was $38,600; for junior consultants, $46,010; for consultants, $58,240; for senior consultants, $80,500; for principal consultants, $82,618; for vice presidents, $140,005; and for senior or executive vice presidents, $155,000.

Benefits and Union Membership: Besides earning a straight salary, many workers receive additional compensation, such as profit sharing, stock ownership, or performance-based bonuses. In some firms, bonuses can constitute one-third, or more, of annual pay.

Only about 2 percent of workers in management, scientific, and technical consulting services belong to unions or are covered by union contracts, compared with 12 percent of workers in all industries combined.

 

From the Bureau of Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook Online: http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs037.htm

BACK