What are International Consultants?

Carol Francois

International consultants work in a range of industries, from information technology to manufacturing. There are many similarities within a specific industry or technological solution. The use of consultants is growing as firms look for ways to access specific skills or expertise for short periods of time.

Man holding a globe
Man holding a globe

The skills required to become an international consultant include fluency in at least two languages, technical expertise in his or her field, and interpersonal skills. Most successful consultants are naturally outgoing, with the ability to quickly build relationships with a wide range of people. In general, most international consultants have completed an undergraduate degree or diploma from a recognized university or college.

International consultants typically work for large, multinational consulting firms. There are at least five major firms, with offices located in all the major world cities. The primary revenue stream for these firms is the billable hours of the consultants. As a result, these firms provide a combination of high compensation and training programs to ensure that their firm retains the best talent.

When selecting international consultants, it is important to make a list of the skill sets you require, as well as a detailed project plan. The vast majority of consulting firms will require a project outline and skill set requirements. The firms will then respond with a proposal and service level agreement. Included in these documents are the types of resources that would be allocated to the project, total estimated project time, and hourly rates for each resource.

Take the time to obtain quotes from at least three consulting firms. The allocation of resources and total project costs will vary by firm. It is very important to compare the quotes in detail to ensure the services provided are comparable.

The first step to become an international consultant is to obtain expert-level skills in a specific discipline or field. At least ten years of progressive working experience is required by most consulting firms. Many skilled professionals who immigrate to other countries find employment as international consultants. In this profession, he or she can utilize language skills and secure well-compensated positions.

A position as an international consultant requires a significant amount of travel. Assignments can range in length from one week to 18 months or longer. For this reason, most people look for alternate careers after five to eight years. Opportunities may exist within a client's organization or in a management role in the consulting firm.

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