Financial Consultants


Education and Training Requirements

High School

In high school, take business, finance, mathematics, and accounting classes. English and speech classes will come in handy because as a consultant, you’ll constantly be writing reports about your findings and meeting with company executives and your colleagues to discuss financial issues. Other useful classes include computer science, psychology, business, foreign language, and social studies.

Postsecondary Education

You will need at least a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or a related field to become a financial consultant, although some employers—especially major firms—prefer to hire consultants with a master’s degree in business or finance, or at least a bachelor’s degree plus several years of appropriate work experience. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 28 percent of management consultants have a master’s degree.

The University of Notre Dame, University of Colorado-Boulder, the College of William & Mary, and other colleges offer degrees and concentrations in consulting.


Georgetown University, University of Southern California, the University of Texas at Dallas, and other colleges and universities offer consulting certificate programs. Contact these schools to learn more.

Professional associations also provide certificate programs. For example, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers an International Financial Reporting Standards certificate program; the certificate is awarded upon completion of 23 online, self-study training courses. The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants offers a certificate in business accounting. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants provides certificate programs in international auditing and international financial reporting. The National Association for Business Economics offers the following certificates: Applied Econometrics, Business Applications of Statistics and Data Analytics, Communication and Presentation Skills for Business Economists and Analysts, Economics of Strategy and Managerial Decision Making, Economic Measurement, Machine Learning & Data Science for Economists, Time-Series Analysis and Forecasting, and Writing Skills for Business Economists and Analysts. Contact these organizations for more information.

Other Education or Training

Many professional associations provide continuing-education (CE) opportunities to financial consultants. For example, the Institute of Management Consultants USA (IMC USA) offers a 12-session foundational survey course called Mastering Management Consulting. It also offers continuing education in the form of webinars, seminars, and more to help consultants to improve their consulting skills, manage their practices, and find appropriate clients. IMC USA also organizes C2M Live!, monthly webcasts that feature interviews with well-known consultants on a variety of topics such as branding, marketing, and career and skills development.

Financial Executives International, Institute of Management Accountants, Investments and Wealth Institute, National Association for Business Economics, and many other national and state consulting associations provide CE opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Becoming certified is an excellent career move for consultants. It shows that you have met the knowledge requirements established by your industry. Those who are certified often increase their chances of landing a job and earning higher pay. The Institute of Management Consultants USA offers the certified management consultant designation to those consultants who pass an examination and meet minimum educational and experience requirements. Consultants can also earn the chartered financial analyst (CFA) credential, which is administered by the CFA Institute. The CFA charter is recognized around the world as a standard in the finance industry.

Many financial consultants have accounting backgrounds, and some have earned the certified public accountant (CPA) designation. CPAs must pass a qualifying examination and hold a certificate issued by the state in which they wish to practice. The Uniform CPA Examination, which is administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is used by all states. Nearly all states require at least two years of public accounting experience or the equivalent before a CPA certificate can be earned.

Other certification opportunities are provided by the Institute of Management Accountants, Global Academy of Finance & Management, Institute for Professionals in Taxation, and the Investments and Wealth Institute.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Try to obtain as much experience as possible in the field by participating in summer internships and working at part-time jobs at financial consulting firms, banks, insurance companies, and accounting firms. It will take several years of on-the-job experience to be considered a full-fledged consultant. 

Financial consultants must have excellent financial acumen and knowledge of the financial industry. They must be confident and have strong interpersonal and communication skills; much of this job involves not only interacting with coworkers, managers, and other team members, but also discussing their findings with (and often defending those findings to) clients. Financial consultants should be able to work well under pressure, as this career frequently demands long hours and involves strict deadlines. Other key traits include organizational and leadership skills, flexibility, creativity, strong ethics, and an analytical personality. Consultants who are self-employed need good marketing and office management skills.