The economy make still be in the doldrums but it’s a great time to learn how earn money as a consultant. As employers reduce permanent employees paradoxically opportunities for self-employed consultants have grown.  It’s a good time to be a specialist.

Of course this means different things in different professions. As a doctor or dentist you can get valuable experience as a locum and opportunities for travel.  For some it’s a stop gap, for others it’s a career in its own right with consulting opportunities opening up on the path less travelled: health insurance, private medical sector, pharmaceuticals, you name it. For IT professionals there are opportunities across IT – where businesses have always bought in specialist advice.

Whether you end up consulting to your old employers or branch out in a different direction, consulting requires a chance of mindset. Your ability to earn money becomes dependent on finding contracts or clients. But you choose.  It’s a more flexible way of working and it can be a good way to broaden your experience more quickly. Many also say closing the door on workplace politics makes consulting less stressful!

Maximising your earnings as a consultant comes down to the nature of your work and protecting your consulting income. Your earning power is limited by whether you want to be a part-time or full-time consultant and the nature of your skills. In our experience many consultants are not driven primarily by monetary reward. But it is worth mentioning the money side of things.  Because consultants are self-employed your earnings are dependent on you being fit and healthy and finding work! Particularly if you have a family, you need to give some thought to what would happen if you were unable to work or if work dried up. Some consultants already have investments; maybe an income earning property portfolio.  Others don’t have a nest egg or savings.  To protect against loss of earnings through illness, think about taking out an income protection policy.  To guard against work drying up, it’s sensible to have a contingency fund in place – all businesses need working capital. Research opportunities carefully before you make the switch. Make business / professional connections and have a Plan B.

Finally, not everyone adapts to consulting.  Maintaining professional accreditations and well-placed networking will always be a good investment. That applies even if you should you decide consulting isn’t going to work out long-term.