Project Management

Life in the PM Consulting Lane: Is It Right for You?

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

It seems impossible when I think about it, but I have been a project management consultant for over 40 years. Funny, I don’t feel that old…but the years don’t lie, nor does having kids in their 40s. So, like the insurance commercial, I know a lot about PM consulting because I have done a lot of consulting. Maybe, just maybe, some of the things I have learned over the course of four decades will help you to decide whether a life as a project management consultant is for you.

It’s safe to say that you will need to have the ability to manage projects, so I won’t go into project management skills and capabilities since that is the ante in the PM consulting game. Instead, the focus here will be on the skills and talents you need to be an effective and successful consultant. While you can have a consultant’s mindset as an employee, you can’t be successful in consulting if you have the mindset of an employee; it takes more.

Paths You Can Follow
There are roughly three options for pursuing a career as a PM consultant:

1. Work as an employee of a consultancy that provides project management services to its clients. When working for a consulting firm, you will most likely be a W2 employee. Your salary will be a percentage of your hourly billing rate times about 1,000 hours. So if you billed out at $150 an hour, you could expect to earn…

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"One of the symptoms of approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important."

- Bertrand Russell