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Most people have heard of professional consultants, but few know what consultants actually do. Basically, a consultant is just an expert in a certain field who provides professional advice or recommendations concerning a particular project. The reason, so many experienced professionals become consultants, is that it is a job that offers a great deal of freedom. Consultants come from virtually every field and have diverse backgrounds. The most sought after consultants can usually be found working in engineering, accounting, marketing, information technology, medicine, finance, and design.

Companies seek the aid of consultants to help them with their most challenging projects. Consultants usually work for a consulting agency or they are self-employed and freelance. The compensation for this work is often quite competitive since consultants give clients access to a wealth of knowledge and experience and help them solve their most difficult quandaries. Some of the top companies employ fulltime consultants to help them with things like planning and marketing strategies.

A brief history of consulting

When the market for consultants truly began to expand, many talented professionals secured employment with the top companies and remained loyal to them. However, the profession leads itself to itinerancy; and many of the top consultants simply go where the best and most challenging opportunities are. For example, during the dotcom era of the early 1990s, many talented consultants left the firms they were with to join new Internet and computer startups.

The simple truth is that most top consultants are no longer looking for six-figure salaries. They have more than enough money in the bank. No, what they really want is a challenge. But when the dotcom bubble burst and consulting jobs all but disappeared, many consultants were faced with difficult decisions. In those trying economic times, even the most experienced professionals had a hard time securing employment with stable firms. As a result, many consultants decided to become freelance associates.

Although working freelance is not as steady as working for an established consulting firm, it offers talented professionals a lot of freedom. Freelance consultants do not have to simply take projects that are assigned to them, they can pick and chose and concentrate on works that interest them. And, since they are self-employed, they can come and go as they please and have no one to answer to but themselves.

Because many professional consultants decided to work freelance after the dotcom bubble burst, most companies opted not to employ high-priced teams of consultants to whom they had to pay annual salaries. Rather, they decided to hire consultants on project-by-project basis. In turn, this forced many more professional consultants to become freelance professionals.

While there are still a number of top consulting firms, many more consultants are making the decision of going out on their own. For the most part, the businesses that avail of their services have mixed emotions. While many companies enjoy the professionalism of consulting agencies, they also believe there is a lot of inefficiency and waste. The fact is that most consulting agencies send teams of workers, when all that is often required is a talented individual. For this reason, many companies choose to hire freelance professionals who often offer them individual attention at lower price.
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