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How Do I Become an Independent Consultant?

L.K. Blackburn
L.K. Blackburn

Independent consultants advise and provide services to companies and individuals who require their expertise but do not want or need to hire a full time employee for the work that is be to completed. You can become an independent consultant by gaining experience within your preferred field working for another company, and then branching out to start your own business and find your own clients. In some fields, it may not be necessary to first work for someone else if you can confidently perform your job function without first gaining experience in the field.

There is no specific educational standard to become an independent consultant. Depending on your chosen career area, however, you may need to first earn a college degree to find a job working in the field to gain the experience necessary to start your own independent consulting business. If you know you would eventually like to become an independent consultant, it may be a good idea to take courses in accounting and business management as you will need these skills to operate your own business.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

Professional consultants are hired because they can offer an important service or skill to a company, usually one that no one already working for them can provide. For this reason, individuals who want to become an independent consultant usually first gain experience employed for a larger company. The amount of experience needed before you will be able to work independently and start your own business will vary based on the nature of the work in your chosen field.

Once you have decided to become an independent consultant, you should read up on regional requirements to start a business and self employment tax regulations. You may need to acquire an operating business license and pay a business registration fee. Tax laws for self employed individuals vary depending on the legal structure of your business, so it may be a good idea to seek expert advise in understanding how taxes in your area work for independent consultants.

Freelance consultants working for themselves usually do not receive a consistent, set salary from their own company as the amount of money they earn varies based on the work and clients they are able to acquire. They may charge hourly for their services to each client, or they may decide to operate their business on a per-job contract fee. Independent consultants find work the same way a business finds customers and clients, using marketing, sales, and networking.

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