An IT consultant handles anything from computer repairs to management and maintenance of large networks. They can be categorized into three specialties: Project management, Maintenance and Repair
If you are a developer/tech person who wants to build an awesome product, do you think you could do it better than someone who can handle your project?
The answer is “Yes” – but only if they’re an expert in the field.
What is an IT Consultant?
The IT industry is often associated with the “me too” problem: a bunch of smaller, similar companies making cheap-to-expensive products that add little to the customer experience. While this is true in some cases, there are a lot of reasons why larger IT companies are successful:
- The large scale means buying lots of small computers and large amounts of memory, both for security and performance reasons.
- Prototype is a valuable skill for all businesses — not just IT companies — and it’s good to have enough people who can solve problems quickly.
- A large team means access to more capital than smaller competitors (and this capital helps solve other problems). If a company has its own R&D department, it can arrange financing for testing new ideas and prototypes without having to rely on outside funding or personal savings (and without having to share their research results with others).
- The big company also has an advantage over small competitors when it comes to marketing: they can afford to hire marketing experts who can deliver superior customer service than those of their competitors.
- Finally, the IT industry is relatively young and dynamic, so there’s always room for new ideas and inventions (just look at WordPress or Drupal). You don’t need an established brand if you start off with a new idea or product that seems interesting enough (you can always start as a freelancer instead!).
The IT Consultant’s Role
Most people don’t realize that an IT consultant isn’t just a tech support guy. He or she is also a project manager, troubleshooter and developer; he or she can be a programmer, a designer, an architect, and more. Quite often, this role overlaps with that of other roles like business analyst (but often not until the project has been completed).
I have seen quite a few teams of technical consultants. The best can be very creative—and successful. But some teams are still stuck with the “don’t hire me as I won’t do anything but fix things” mentality. It doesn’t help that most IT consulting firms don’t have any formal training for these roles at all and the ones who do tend to feel the need to teach it in a way that is not accessible.
Just about any skill set you can imagine is required for an IT consultant: from programming to web design to networking; from software development to network architecture to web design; from accounting to usability testing to security; from UI/UX development to application architecture; from marketing to sales and more—there is a wide range of skills required in order for an IT consultant’s job to succeed. All of this means there is little chance of being able to get hired by one (or even two) organizations at once–the odds are stacked against it (though this could change if there are strong market forces pushing for these roles).
Education and Certification
There are a number of different types of IT consulting and each has its own unique set of skills. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Project Management: A project manager tells the story of how to build a product, then gets it built for real, typically by getting the code reviewed, unit tested, deployed, and run by multiple users. The end product can be used as is or tweaked to meet customer needs.
- Maintenance and Repair: The term maintenance and repair is used by those in the field who fix things when they break down or have software issues. Some do it full time while others work strictly on project-related contracts. Either way, they call out people with specific skill sets to help them out and get things fixed when it breaks down.
- IT Consulting (or Information Technology): This is the higher-level skill of helping companies design their systems in order to maximize performance and/or security (think data security, performance and storage optimization) while minimizing costs. The differences between these specialties are that maintenance requires more technical knowledge than repairing (and thus you might find yourself doing some of the latter), that most IT consultants aren’t quite as good at design as you might imagine (since most projects are driven more by business objectives than technical ones), that some do consulting more for the money than for making a living (there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you know what you’re doing), and that there is no one right way to do IT consulting. There are plenty of highly specialized fields within this field so it isn’t always easy to tell whether someone is really an expert in their area or not; but there should be clear distinctions between “IT consultant” vs “computer repair specialist” vs “systems engineer” without a doubt.
These distinctions make sense: I have a lot more experience working on projects than I have with hardware or software (though I still won’t go near my own PCs). In fact, one could argue that if someone was going to try explaining how I do my job — which runs from being involved in every single decision about how my company runs — I would expect them to know about these three specialties; if not, then they don’t know much about what my job actually does! That’s why we recommend CTO / architect positions for those who just want to get paid for their work; but if you think
There are three main types of IT consultants: project managers, system administrators and network administrators.
Project managers oversee aspects of a project, including the plan and funding; coding; development; testing; deployment and support. They also make sure contracts are followed when problems arise. System administrators are responsible for maintaining servers, patching them and working with outside vendors to keep them up to date. Network administrators are responsible for keeping networks up to date.
These 3 roles require different skill sets. A project manager must be able to take on a variety of tasks, from managing clients to developing software or training employees — all in one day or week without working too hard or overstaying their welcome. A system administrator must be able to install new servers, configure networks and maintain servers, patches and backups (which is essentially what they do). And finally a network administrator must be able to maintain the entire network infrastructure and work with external vendors (such as virtualization platforms) to ensure that the machines stay up-to-date, runs smoothly and doesn’t crash too often (i.e., they do fix the machine when it crashes in order for it not to interrupt service) — all in one day or week without being too stressed out or overstretched by it.
Job Opportunities and Growth Outlook
Since the dawn of time, people have needed help with their computers, their phones and their money. We are here to help, but first let’s take a deep dive into what it means to be an IT consultant.
While there are technically two types of IT consultants, namely project managers and system administrators, we think it is useful to break IT consulting jobs in to two subcategories:
- Project management
- Maintenance and repair
The difference between the two is that one does work on a project (hence the word “project”), but the other does work on the system itself (hence “maintenance”). Projects are usually more focused and less complex than maintenance and repair jobs, so these jobs tend to be more common among freelancers and small businesses. But since IT consulting is such a broad field with many different skill sets in it I will cover them both.
Besides project management there are many other jobs within IT consulting that fall under this umbrella. Some examples include: general systems engineering – responsible for troubleshooting network issues or finding problems with hardware as well as systems software (much like a network engineer)
– responsible for troubleshooting network issues or finding problems with hardware as well as systems software (much like a network engineer) Web development – Responsible for building websites up front or after the product has been released. This includes creating custom pages, scripts, templates etc. For example you might build your own Facebook fan page or create your own YouTube channel
– Responsible for building websites up front or after the product has been released. This includes creating custom pages, scripts, templates etc. For example you might build your own Facebook fan page or create your own YouTube channel Project management – Responsible for managing projects from requirements gathering through design refinement to implementation
– Responsible for managing projects from requirements gathering through design refinement to implementation System administration – Responsible for installing software in servers and databases such as Virtual Machines (VMs), System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), Exchange Server 2007/2010/2013/2016 etc.) , fixing security holes in OSes etc…etc…etc… These are also very common in small businesses because they tend not to take much time out of day-to-day business
A lot of career paths exist within consulting:• Software development intermediary: Software developers who fix problems with code written by others (this could be freelancers or contractors) • Project management intermediary: People who manage
In general, IT consultants provide project management and implementation services to large companies (in the US, even medium size companies). They are not always involved in designing new technology, but may be a consultant for one of the following:
- Developing new software.
- Tuning existing software.
- Providing system engineering or hardware consulting.
The main difference between these three categories is the involvement of the consultant in the design (software) or installation (hardware) of a system. The emphasis on software development is due to trends in technology and customers. The main emphasis on hardware is also due to trends in technology and customers. A typical project management role begins with an initial brief from the client and is usually achieved by having an independent team that includes a senior engineer, a systems architect and often other specialists. The process starts with documentation and information sharing, using different methods depending on each project’s specific requirements: • Documentation – knowledge sharing between developers, engineers and non-technical personnel involved in delivering a product to customers; • System architecture – development of interfaces between systems; • Software testing – verifying data integrity before delivery; • Project roadmap – developing logical systems into physical components; • Test plan – defining tests needed for each phase of delivery; • Architectural documents – detailing specifications for components supporting the system design; • System testing plans – defining tests needed for each phase of delivery; etc.