A marketing consultant is an individual who works with businesses and organizations on a per-project basis. Such consultants are frequently self-employed, but may sometimes work for consulting firms. To become a marketing consultant, you will need marketing education, either through a formal degree program or through a professional training program. You will also need to obtain experience both in marketing and in consulting. If you wish to be an independent consultant, you will also need to ascertain whether or not owning your own business is a good fit for you.
Education is an important step for anyone wanting to become a marketing consultant. Many colleges and universities offer marketing degrees through their colleges of business. Others offer general business degrees with a concentration in marketing. Advanced degree programs are also available.
If you have extensive marketing experience but no formal education, or if you have a degree in another field, you might choose a professional training program in marketing. Such programs are available through career training facilities or as continuing education courses through colleges. Some such programs lead to a certification in marketing. Courses and certifications in consulting are also available.
Typical coursework for someone looking to become a marketing consultant includes classes on consumer behavior, advertising, promotion strategy, sales management, market research and using social media. Special topics and internships are also common in formal degree programs. Courses for consultants can include negotiation, analysis, research systems and small business management.
To become a marketing consultant, you must also gain experience. While some experience can be gained through college internships, it is important to note that consulting is not usually an entry-level job. Consultants typically have several years of experience, often in specific types of marketing or in certain industries, so you may need to begin by working in the marketing department of a company or organization first.
Unless you are able to find a job with a consulting firm, you will most likely be self-employed if you want to become a marketing consultant. For all intents and purposes, this means you will own a small business. In addition to the actual work of consulting, you will need to market your services to prospective clients; negotiate contracts; and manage office functions, such as filing and accounting. You will also need to be prepared for slow periods in business and for a delay in receiving payments. Before you become an independent marketing consultant, it is wise to determine whether or not you have the drive to manage all of these functions and the financial stability to start such a business.