Sometimes, a fresh perspective can make all the difference. When it comes to business operations, that’s precisely what management analysts, or management consultants, aim to do. Employed by a management consulting firm or operating as an independent consultant, management analysts aren’t employed by the companies they advise. Instead, they support a wide variety of for-profit, non-profit and government organizations.
Management analysts apply their business expertise to analyze organizations, and then partner with managers to execute adjustments that will boost efficiency and decrease costs. In many cases, management analysts possess industry expertise. Organizations often hire management consultants to ensure they remain competitive, or to support entering a new market.
What Does a Management Analyst Do?
Management analysts often work on a project basis to examine a specific area, and in the course of preparing to advise managers on organizational improvements, they may:
- Collect information about the problem they are striving to solve or the process they are improving
- Interview or observe employees to understand approaches, resources and staff that may be required (gap analysis)
- Analyze financial data
- Develop solutions or establish new approaches
- Recommend new systems, processes or structural changes
- Prepare and deliver presentations or reports for organizational management
- Meet with managers to monitor how changes are progressing and partner with staff to help implement
Because the work of management analysts is project-based and conducted for a variety of organizations, the projects and requirements will vary by engagement.
How Can I Become a Management Analyst?
Most management analysts possess previous business experience when they enter the field. Many specialize in specific fields or areas; for example, a management analyst may have previously been an accountant or auditor, a market research analyst or a computer systems analyst.
Skills and Education Required
The base requirement for management analysts is a bachelor’s degree, though the field of study can span a wide variety of disciplines, including accounting, finance, economics, management, business, psychology or computer and information science. Some consulting firms may prefer or require a master’s degree, most often a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA).
Because management analysts are often brought in to solve some challenging organizational issues and to work with clients in high-pressure situations, they must possess a wide variety of skills, including:
- Interpersonal skills: Management analysts must be able to partner with employees and managers at the organization they are supporting to develop an understanding of the issue and then to implement the solution.
- Problem-solving skills: As an understanding of the issues grow, management analysts must be able to develop viable solutions to their client’s problems. As this will vary at each organization, this requires an adept, creative approach to problem solving.
- Time management: Management analysts are often pulled in multiple directions, working on tight deadlines to achieve their goals. To be efficient and effective they must be able to prioritize and manage their time well.
- Analytical skills: Management analysts must be able to assess the data and information at their disposal to inform their understanding and drive their recommendations.
- Communication skills: To effectively convey a summary of the challenges and their solutions, management analysts must be able to communicate well with both business leaders and stakeholders and employees.
- Critical thinking: Because no project is the same, management analysts must be able to think critically and learn as they go for each new client project.
- Technology skills: Management analysts should be adept at navigating enterprise software, databases, management system software and web platform development software.
What is a Management Analyst’s Salary?
In May 2017, the median annual salary for a management analyst was $82,450 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).* Salary varies by the industry where they are consulting, with professional, scientific and technical services slightly above the median at $87,840. Pay for management analysts is often structured as a base pay plus an annual bonus; self-employed analysts are generally paid on a per-project or per-hour basis directly.
Increasing competition in markets is expected to push organizations to optimize their operations for efficiency and lower costs, boosting demand for management analysts. The BLS anticipates 14% growth, higher than the average, for management analysts between 2016 and 2026.*
In particular, the healthcare and IT industries, particularly IT security, are expected to increase their demand, with key players like government agencies continuing to seek ways to improve efficiency and manage spending.
Supporting an array of clients often requires a demanding travel schedule for management analysts, along with working weeks exceeding 40 hours. The dynamic work environment and complex job requirements coupled with tight deadlines and fast-paced work create a stress level above average, according to U.S. News & World Report. However, the role also offers average opportunities for advancement and a very high degree of flexibility to support work/life balance with an alternative working schedule. If you thrive on problem-solving and can manage high-stress environments, a career as a management analyst may prove very satisfying.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Management Analysts, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm (visited November 5, 2018). National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. Information provided is not intended to represent a complete list of hiring companies or job titles, and program options do not guarantee career or salary outcomes. Students should conduct independent research for specific employment information.