From physician consultants in big hospitals to friendly neighborhood content strategists, the word ‘consultant’ represents various jobs and careers.
The freelancing market, too, is shaping up as a viable career path—a $1.3 trillion market with 60 million active freelancers, according to Upwork—giving rise to independent consultants across the board.
Consultants are taking on more challenging tasks, doing a variety of projects, and are also more satisfied overall, according to the same research. As a result, the competition is fierce, too.
To stand out from the crowd and establish a successful consulting career, you need more than just skills. You need credibility. Consulting certifications are a great way to achieve that.
Before we get into the details of consulting certifications, let’s understand some context.
- What is Consulting?
- What are Consulting Certifications?
- What are the Benefits of Earning a Consulting Certification?
- How To Find the Best Consulting Certification For Your Career?
- Top 10 Consulting Certifications for you to Consider
- 1. Certified Management Consultant (CMC)
- 2. Accredited Small Business Consultant (ASBC)
- 3. Project Management Professional (PMP)
- 4. CompTIA Project+
- 5. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- 6. Certified ScrumMaster
- 7. Cloud Engineer Certifications
- 8. Professional Human Resources Certification (PHRC)
- 9. Certified digital marketing expert
- 10. ClickUp verified consultant
What is Consulting?
Consulting is the practice of a professional/expert, typically external to an organization, giving specialist advice or implementing measures to solve a company’s specific problems. Consultants are:
- Experts: They have deep knowledge of the area of business they specialize in. This could be an industry such as financial services or healthcare, a practice such as diversity hiring or data analytics, or both
- Independent: Like lawyers or management consultants, they are typically employed outside the organization whose problems they solve
- Strategic: Consultants are primarily hired to offer advice, build processes, and create systems. Some also implement pilot projects as proof of concept
- IP-driven: Consultants often build intellectual property (IP) of their own, such as processes, frameworks, and templates
- Highly qualified: They often have post-graduate degrees or PhDs in their field to demonstrate their qualification (in specific niches or highly regulated industries)
However, formal degrees are not the only way to demonstrate your qualifications as a consultant. Reliable consulting certifications can do the same for you and more!
What are Consulting Certifications?
Consulting certifications are documentary proof of your skills and capabilities issued by a competent authority. For example, being certified by the Project Management Institute as a Project Management Professional (PMP) shows you have the knowledge and experience to initiate, plan, execute, monitor, and complete a project successfully.
What are the Benefits of Earning a Consulting Certification?
The fundamental benefit of consulting certifications is that they grant recognition of your capabilities by a well-regarded third party. But they do a lot more.
Most certification programs begin with some form of education or course. This allows professionals to gain specific skills and best practices. Unlike college degrees focusing on generalized knowledge, certifications offer specialization and practical applicability.
Credibility and reputation
Consulting certifications from a competent authority shows your potential employer/customer that you have the skills needed to do the job.
For example, being certified by Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a professional data engineer shows that you are qualified to design, secure, optimize, and modernize cloud applications on AWS.
Several roles require certifications to be hired. While hiring business/leadership coaches, organizations especially look for certifications from the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Having one will dramatically increase your marketability.
Higher earning potential
Consultant certifications often ask for hands-on experience in the relevant field. Therefore, a certified consultant has a track record of success, which increases their demand and their earning potential.
Some of the best consulting certifications have multiple levels. For instance, ICF offers certifications such as ‘associate certified coach,’ ‘professional certified course,’ and ‘master certified course.’ Each level has differing requirements and demonstrates greater skill, punctuating career growth.
Additionally, it shows potential customers that you are committed to growing your capabilities in your field. It standardizes your practice and raises them to top industry standards. It also ensures a disciplinary process to follow in case something goes wrong.
How To Find the Best Consulting Certification For Your Career?
A quick Google search will give you hundreds of certifications from various providers. Many of them offer courses that issue a certificate of successful completion. However, not all of them provide the same benefits.
While choosing the best consulting certification to boost your career, look for the following.
- Relevance: Look for certifications that are relevant to your skills, field of work, and the customers you look to serve
- Certification requirements: If it seems too easy to complete, it might be wrong for you. Make sure it challenges you to do more
- Competent authority: Find the foremost organization in the field you’re looking to be certified in
- Application orientation: The certification must demonstrate you can do the job in practice, not just that you can pass an exam
- Alum success: See if other certified professionals have achieved the career progression that you seek as a result of these certifications. It helps to read testimonials and ratings
- Investment: See how much time and money you’d need to invest in gaining this certification and ensure you can afford it
Based on these parameters, we’ve identified the ten best consulting certifications to boost your career in 2023.
Top 10 Consulting Certifications for you to Consider
1. Certified Management Consultant (CMC)
When an organization seeks to overhaul or upgrade the management of its teams, projects, or business practices, it looks for a management consultant. For instance, they might hire a marketing consultant before launching a new product or an HR consultant while devising a hybrid work strategy.
The Institute of Management Consultants offers the Certified Management Consultant designation to professionals who help businesses manage people, projects, and technology across human resources, strategic planning, finance, operations, information technology, and marketing. It also covers ethical practices, processes, project management, and change management.
To qualify, you need
- A minimum of three years of experience
- Five satisfactory client evaluations
- A bachelor’s degree or at least five years of work experience plus significant professional education in management consulting
The certification program consists of a written examination covering ethics and consulting competencies, followed by an oral examination where you present a client engagement and respond to questions.
The initial management consulting certification can cost anywhere between $350 to $700. You’re required to pay an annual charge of $395 to maintain the certification. And re-certify every three years.
2. Accredited Small Business Consultant (ASBC)
A small business consultant is a management consultant with unique expertise in independent businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
The Association of Accredited Small Business Consultants (AASBC) offers designations of Accredited Small Business Consultants (ASBC) to members across the globe.
To apply, you must demonstrate your expertise in small business management and be willing to continue serving the market.
To be certified, you need to become a member of the AASBC, take a 40-hour lecture series, study the Simplified Examination to Maximize Profit (SEMP) approach training book, and pass an online exam.
The initial year fee is $999, with a $149 renewal fee every year.
3. Project Management Professional (PMP)
The Project Management Institute offers the coveted Project Management Professional certification to candidates with skills in “managing people, processes and business priorities of professional projects.” It recognizes your skills in:
- Leading people throughout the project lifecycle
- Using Agile and hybrid approaches to design how the project is implemented
- Communicate with various stakeholders about the progress of the project
One of the three modules of the PMP certification is about the project management process, which includes managing communications, assigning tasks, monitor performance, survey quality, manage changes, establish governance standards and choose the right tools. ClickUp’s project management platform can help with all this and more.
To become a PMP, you need:
- Four-year graduate degree
- 36 months of project management experience
- 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® certification
Once your application is accepted based on eligibility, you must take a written exam online.
The PMP certification costs $400-555, based on your membership status.
4. CompTIA Project+
With more than half of big projects failing, especially in technology implementation, good project managers are in great demand. Organizations especially look for professionals who understand technology development with experience in using Agile methodologies and project management tools.
CompTIA Project+ certifies IT professionals with the skills to manage small and medium-sized projects. It covers methodologies, frameworks, Agile skills, change management, and compliance.
CompTIA Project+ is an entry-level certification recommending at least 6-12 months of experience managing projects.
You’re required to pass an exam of multiple choice and performance-based questions.
You can buy just the exam for $358 or take online training or self-study material at extra cost.
Now that we understand the top generalist certifications, let’s look at a few for the specialists.
5. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Most organizations have large cybersecurity teams internally. However, for special situations, such as after a cyberattack or for timely audits, they hire security consultants.
The Certified Information Systems Security Professional from ISC2 is a well-regarded certification. It recognizes a professional’s skill in IT security across assets, communication, networking, operations, and architecture. It also includes risk management, assessments, and identity and access management.
To be certified, you must have at least five years of work experience in two or more ISC2 CISSP domains. You may be able to qualify with one year of experience with a relevant college degree.
You can be certified after successfully completing an exam, agreeing to the ISC2 code of ethics, and paying an annual fee of $125.
6. Certified ScrumMaster
Scrum is becoming a popular way for engineering teams to run projects. A scrum master brings the team together, fosters an effective work environment, and guides team members through scrum principles and practices.
Organizations often hire consultants to set up, train, and operationalize scrum for their teams.
The Certified ScrumMaster certification by the Scrum Alliance certifies your knowledge of scrum as well as your ability to apply it in practice. The training program also teaches team accountabilities, events, and artifacts needed to adopt Scrum successfully.
This is also a beginner-friendly program for anyone with experience in the IT industry, such as software engineers, business analysts, and project managers.
You will need to complete a live online or in-person course with at least 14 hours of instruction. Then, you will need to pass a test as well.
The training, certification, and other bonus materials cost $299. Depending on your experience, you can also take other advanced courses in Scrum.
7. Cloud Engineer Certifications
As more and more applications are moving entirely to the cloud, the need for engineers with specialized technical skills within each environment is critical. Typically, organizations hire certified professionals to solve complex technology problems. Here are some advanced-level certifications in cloud engineering and architecture.
Speciality certifications include advanced networking, database, SAP on AWS, machine learning, security, and data analytics. To gain this certification, you are required to:
- Have five years of experience in related fields, in addition to knowledge of specific technologies and concepts
- Pass an online exam
- Pay around $300 towards exam fees
Azure offers expert-level certifications for solutions architects, cybersecurity architects, DevOps engineers, and Power platform solution architects. To gain this certification, you are required to:
- Complete relevant associate certifications from Azure
- Pass a certification exam
- Pay an exam fee of $165
GCP offers professional-level certifications to those with advanced skills in design implementation and management of Google Cloud Products. Specializations include cloud architect, database engineer, data engineer, Workplace administrator, etc. To gain any of these certifications, you’ll need to:
- Have 3+ years of industry experience, including at least a year of relevant experience
- Pass the certification exam
- Pay an exam fee of $200
There are dozens of certifications for technologists, each with its own benefits. The above are some of the primary ones to get you started. Now, let’s look at some other professional consultant certifications.
8. Professional Human Resources Certification (PHRC)
The demand for professionals who can hire, train, and manage remote workers, freelancers, global teams, and diverse workforce is growing dramatically. Demonstrated capabilities to transform the human resources practice can be exceptionally valuable for consultants.
The Certified Human Resources Consultant (CHRC) from the Human Resource Management Institute (HRMI) is specially designed for external consultants. It covers strategy, compensation and benefits, organizational behavior, project management, HR audit, etc.
To gain this consulting certification, you’re required to have a bachelor’s degree or higher and ten years of work experience with at least four years in management.
Once the eligibility criteria are met, you need to pass an exam.
Membership fees for the HRMI range from $75-100.
9. Certified digital marketing expert
Organizations—especially small businesses—seek digital marketers to help them grow. This includes generalists who can devise and execute a digital marketing strategy, as well as specialists in content marketing, social media, paid advertising, etc.
The Certified Digital Marketing Expert designation offered by the American Marketing Association with the Digital Marketing Institute covers digital selling, customer experience, e-commerce, project planning, and leadership.
Requirements and process
To qualify, you are expected to complete an online course of about 120 hours and submit two 5000-word assignments for evaluation.
The training and certification programs cost upwards of $3000.
10. ClickUp verified consultant
Every organization is going through digital transformation, looking to digitize and automate various processes. In that journey, they adopt several tools, which need setting up and management.
ClickUp’s project management tool is used by over 2 million teams worldwide, with more and more adopting it every day. To accelerate this, we’ve nurtured a community of consultants who can help with workspace configuration, streamlining workflows, onboarding, documenting processes, building custom automation, and more.
ClickUp verified consultants have access to prospects who need help, a partner portal for collaboration, beta testing, and free sandbox accounts.
To quality as a ClickUp verified consultant, you need to have:
- A passion for productivity
- Experience implementing ClickUp for multiple clients
- Less than ten full-time employees and $1M in revenue
Apply online to be a ClickUp verified consultant, and you’ll hear from us.
How to Manage Your Consulting Career with ClickUp
As a consultant, you’ll manage multiple projects simultaneously, each with its own processes, goals, and tasks. This can get unwieldy. A robust tool like ClickUp’s consultancy software can make this effortless for you.
ClickUp’s project management tool adapts seamlessly to your customer relationship management (CRM) or client onboarding software. With 15 different workload views, consultants can visualize client strategies, timelines, billing, intake, and more in a secure platform.
You can take advantage of industry-standard practices with the ClickUp client management template.
Bonus: Impress clients with these client gift ideas!
Bring all your work to ClickUp Tasks
Organize all your projects on your ClickUp Workspace. Break them down into tasks, sub-tasks, and checklists for easy management.
You can also include operational tasks such as contract signing, budgeting, and more right within ClickUp. You can also automate recurring tasks for project reviews or compliances.
Collaborate contextually on ClickUp
Add detailed descriptions for tasks. Communicate with vendors, partners, or even clients in nested comments. Add custom fields for items specific to your consulting services. Use ClickUp as your one-stop client collaboration software.
Track and manage time
A consultant’s biggest asset is their time. Use ClickUp Time Tracking to accurately measure how much time you’re spending on each assignment. See trends on the ClickUp Dashboard and plan your future projects effectively. If you’re unsure, get started with the ClickUp time log template.
Document and share knowledge
Whether it’s meeting notes or your proprietary processes, use ClickUp Docs to write and securely share knowledge. Connect them to your workflows and create tasks from right within.
Do more with AI
Need help? No problem. There are a number of AI tools for consulting that can automate and accelerate your work. Use ClickUp AI as your personal assistant. Summarize notes and generate action items faster. Use ClickUp AI as your personal copy editor. Ask a question and brainstorm ideas.
Find purpose-built templates for every need
With ClickUp, you don’t need to start from scratch. If you already have templates for your work—agreements, workflows, client discovery, business case, etc.—bring them to ClickUp. If not, no worries.
Choose from dozens of ClickUp’s pre-built consulting templates for every need. To get you started right away, here’s the ClickUp Consultant Agreement Template. 🤩Simply make a copy of a template, fill in relevant details, and get down to the actual work: solving client problems!
Boost your Consulting Career with ClickUp
Consulting certifications get you through the door. They help build credibility and influence prospective clients to hire you for the job at hand. Once you’re hired, you need more.
Project management with ClickUp gets you to the finish line. It helps you manage client relationships, deliver projects, and operationalize your consulting practice.
What’s more! It saves you time, cutting out the operations grind work and giving you the freedom to get results for clients. Elevate your consulting business. Try ClickUp for free today!