To become a project consultant, either employed or self-employed, you'll need to have a proven track record in the business area in which you want to be hired. After all, a consultant is an expert. If you aren't already one, make yourself one by gaining the necessary education and experience. Other important requirements to become a project consultant include problem solving skills, self-confidence and a strong ability to communicate and build relationships.
As consultants often need to be available for trouble shooting even after they've done some work on a project, being able to follow through with clients quickly is important. Building genuine relationships in which you're dedicated to helping clients create successful projects is a must if you hope to become a project consultant. Clients should be able to depend on not only your professional advice, but your dedication to serving their needs. Communicating through their preferred methods, whether that is face-to-face when possible or through telephone calls or emails, can start your client relationship off on a good footing.
Being confident in your abilities is crucial, but of course you shouldn't be overconfident or cocky in your attitude, as this is likely to be viewed as a negative quality by clients and potential customers. You'll need to be able to sell yourself and your ideas to potential clients if you want to become a project consultant, especially if you hope to get enough business to be self-employed. Many consultants work in full-time jobs as employees before starting work on their own as independent consulting professionals.
Problem solving should be your focus in the industry or field in which you hope to find consultant work. Reading case studies as well as taking courses in strategic thinking may help you develop your ability to troubleshoot through analysis and reflection. Education requirements vary widely for project consultants, so you may need to research and plan your training program based on the industry as well as the criteria of potential clients or employers. The main thing is to develop yourself as an expert in one area to become a project consultant whether that is in human resources (HR), finance, marketing, engineering or another profession.
Especially if you plan on working for many different clients, make sure you understand contract negotiations. Many companies use standard consulting agreements, yet of course the terms of these contracts are typically more on the side of the firm. You may need to negotiate the contract terms to fit in with your own company policies. Learning to do this tactfully may likely gain you respect as you become a project consultant rather than lose you any business.