When businesses need specialized expertise they don't have internally, they often turn to a consultant to get the job done.
Consultants offer advice and services based on their prior relevant experience, so the pay can vary widely. People hire consultants with expertise in a myriad of things—ghostwriting, managing company mergers, help in gaining admission to Ivy League schools, and planning engineering projects, to name a few.
Consultants of all types can make about $43.50 per hour on average nationally, $10 more than the overall typical hourly wage. However, many consultants are hired as independent contractors who do not receive other forms of compensation, such as insurance benefits.
Salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows how much different types of consultants typically get paid. The wage data is based on the average hourly pay in January and February 2023, the latest data available. Pay can vary depending on work experience and location, so the average should be used only to establish a baseline.
Here’s how consultant salaries compare across specialties.
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- Average hourly wage: $52.50
Advertising consultants typically offer expertise in creating advertising campaigns, as well as placing those ads in print and digital publications. Many professionals in this field can also advise on media planning and buying strategies. Companies may hire an advertising consultant if they do not have enough in-house marketing resources or if they're looking for specific expertise for a certain project. The prevalence and continuing evolution of social media has opened up new opportunities for consultants who specialize in developing advertising strategies and content for specific platforms, such as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter.
- Average hourly wage: $55.14
Computer consultants were the highest paid among the industries analyzed for this list. These consultants specialize in designing and installing computer systems, as well as providing training. In addition, consultants may also be hired to improve a company’s cybersecurity or help respond to cyberattacks.
- Average hourly wage: $36.72
Employment consultants often work to help clients find a job or help a company fill a vacant position, adding support to a company’s recruitment efforts. These consultants typically have expertise in recruiting, including posting job listings, finding applicants, and interviewing. In an executive search for a high-level employee, where the pool of candidates is often small, an employment consultant with prior experience and contacts can be especially valuable by saving time and money in the search and recruitment process.
- Average hourly wage: $49.07
Engineering consultants can improve efficiency and output through their knowledge of design, development, and use of machines, structures, processes, and systems. They may offer advice, conduct feasibility studies, provide technical services, or evaluate engineering projects.
- Average hourly wage: $37.58
People looking to freshen up a room or office space may turn to an interior design consultant. These consultants work to meet the physical and aesthetic needs of their clients. They have expertise in designing and furnishing spaces that take into account building codes, safety regulations, how people will move around the room, and mechanical or electrical needs.
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- Average hourly wage: $39.60
Landscape consultants focus on outdoor beautification and functionality. They plan and develop land areas, such as parks and recreational spaces, airports, highways, hospitals, schools, and subdivisions. They may advise on building placement as well as gardens and other landscape features.
- Average hourly wage: $34.92
Lawyers and attorneys are typically not considered legal consultants. Legal consultants include other legal professionals who offer services such as notarizing documents, process serving, paralegal services, real estate settlements, and patent filings.
- Average hourly wage: $37.02
Retail, warehousing, or manufacturing companies may hire a logistics consultant to help improve their operations. Logistics consultants can advise on ways to boost productivity, improve systems, implement quality control, and manage inventory. They also can assist with distribution networks, warehouse operations, and shipping.
- Average hourly wage: $50.24
Management consultants, which include business consultants, can help a company with financial planning, equity and asset management, records management, organizational and strategic planning, building site selection, and new business ventures. Companies are likely to turn to a management or business consultant during times of rapid growth or to prepare for expansion.
- Average hourly wage: $46.98
While an advertising consultant can help a company create and place promotional content, a marketing consultant offers support in identifying customer needs and how to meet them. Marketing consultants can develop marketing goals and strategies, forecast sales, and help launch new products. The shift to digital marketing has created a wealth of data that a marketing consultant can use to better understand customers' behavior and interests.
- Average hourly wage: $54.21
Public relations focuses on promoting the interests and image of a client, and these efforts may complement other marketing and advertising efforts. PR consultants can help clients coordinate media appearances, navigate a crisis, or host an event that brings together influential guests. Companies involved in lobbying and politics often hire PR consultants.
- Average hourly wage: $45.63
Real estate consultants are distinct from real estate agents and brokers, property managers, appraisers, and people leasing property. Instead, these consultants usually handle real estate escrow and listing services. For instance, an energy production company may hire a real estate consultant to negotiate with landowners on a lease for the mining of minerals and other energy sources.
- Average hourly wage: $24.44
These consultants help companies hire temporary workers to supplement their workforce. Companies may seek out a temp consultant to help with hiring during a busy season or a short-term push to expand operations. Temp consultants were the lowest-paid consultants in this analysis.
Data reporting by Elena Cox. Story editing by Jeff Inglis. Copy editing by Paris Close. Photo selection by Clarese Moller.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
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