What Is a Management Analyst? And 4 Other Questions About This Career
As a parent juggling everything from kids’ sports schedules to managing the family budget, you’re the master at getting things done. You make sure your household runs like a well-oiled machine, whether it’s squeezing every penny out of a dollar or using meal prep to keep the chaos of dinnertime running on schedule. If you were a superhero, efficiency, organization and communication would be your special powers. You’ve often wished you could turn these household management skills into a career, but you wouldn’t even know where to start.
One career path worth considering is that of a management analyst (MA), sometimes called management consultants. So what is a management analyst? These savvy business pros work with companies to improve efficiency, reduce unnecessary costs and maximize profit and work productivity.
Sound familiar? Many of the same skill sets you use to keep your family on track may have given you hands-on preparation for a career as a management analyst. Learn more about the management analyst job description and beyond as we answer five common questions about this career.
A management analyst is a consultant who works with a company to improve their overall efficiency and solve operational problems. “Management consultants help organizations solve issues, create value, maximize growth and improve business performance,” says veteran management analyst Alexander Lowry. “They use their business skills to provide objective advice and expertise and help an organization to develop any specialist skills that it may be lacking.”
Management analysts often work for consulting agencies or are self-employed, so they can bring an outsider’s objective perspective to the company they’re serving at any given time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They interview their clients’ managers and personnel, observe processes and procedures and analyze data to get an understanding of the full scope of the business and any issues they may be facing. Then they deliver recommendations for improvement and will often stay in touch with past clients to ensure these new systems are yielding the results the company hoped for.
Because their assignments and client work is on a temporary basis, a management analyst’s job is constantly changing. “Every single project was different. Whether you liked your team or client, you knew it would all change soon,” Lowry says.
Regardless of the differences from client to client, there are some aspects of the job that stay the same. Every project will begin with gap analysis, according to Dr. Michael Provitera, management consultant, professor and author. This could involve “interviewing people and meeting various leaders of the organization,” Dr. Provitera says. Getting the project done can vary quite a bit—for example, whether you work by yourself or as part of a team—but the project will always end with a follow-up. Following up is not only to “Ensure immediate success, but also long-term success,” Dr. Provitera says. This can also bring to light if a client might benefit from more analysis in the future.
But it’s not just meetings and follow-ups—management analysts are hired to help solve some of the trickiest big problems facing an organization. This means management analysts’ critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities will be put to the test on a regular basis. Major changes or fixes need planning and careful consideration to ensure they are successful. Management analysts gather as much information as possible, determine the best path forward and work with clients and organizations to develop plans for how to make it happen. What that looks like will depend on the client—a manufacturer may need help reorganizing supply chain lines while a service business may be looking for ways to profitably package and sell their work. As you might expect, management analysts often find a niche to focus on as the breadth of knowledge needed to be a successful analyst in all business environments is substantial.
Management analysis is a complex job that requires plenty of flexibility, drive and critical-thinking skills. The ability to learn about and research unfamiliar topics is especially important since many management analysts will encounter situations where they need to build expertise quickly. “You not only need to have expertise in an industry or function, but also be a sponge that can easily soak up details about the next client situation you’re thrust into,” Lowry advises. Dr. Provitera agrees, saying, “The MA may not know everything, but they have the capacity to look something up and present it well when consulting.”
Strong interpersonal and communication skills are also a must-have because management analysts spend so much time interacting with supervisors and other employees at their clients’ workplace. Lowry adds that building relationships with the client’s team is essential, as is being able to clearly communicate your plan for improvement. Additionally, a strong work ethic is essential. Client work comes with tight deadlines, and with tight deadlines comes the potential for long hours.
Management analysts have impressive earning potential, thanks to the results they can bring to their clients. The BLS reports a median average salary of more than $81,000 in 2016, with the highest earners bringing in close to $150,000.*
A strong salary doesn’t mean a whole lot to would-be analysts if there aren’t many jobs available. Fortunately, the demand for this career is growing at a fast pace. More than 800,000 management analyst jobs were available in 2016, with the BLS projecting faster-than-average employment growth of 14 percent through 2026.
Strong communication and efficiency are great natural skills to have in your tool belt, but you’ll also need a formal education to make management analysis your next career move as these positions are high sought after. The BLS reports that most management analysts hold at least a Bachelor’s degree, though many analysts go on to earn a Master’s degree to open up more opportunities for career advancement. Many colleges don’t offer a degree program specific to management analysis, so students may opt to choose a related field of study such as Finance, Business or Business Analysis.
Management analysts may also choose to earn an optional certification to make themselves more attractive to employers and clients. The Institute of Management Consultants USA offers a Certified Management Consultant certification that’s available to consultants who meet minimum requirements, can provide positive client evaluations and can pass an oral peer review.
Additionally, most management consultants will need substantial work experience in the field they’d like to consult in. Many work as accountants, business and financial analysts or as market research analysts for organizations before staking out on their own or working for a larger management consulting firm.
Your ability to adapt to new situations and efficiently manage your household aren’t just useful at home—these abilities can transition well into a business role. Now that you know what a management analyst is and know more about this top-tier business career path, you may be wondering what you can do to take your first step toward it. One of the most important steps any aspiring analyst can take is to get educated. The Rasmussen College Business Management degree with a Business Analysis specialization is a great way to build the foundation of analytical skills and business acumen needed for this challenging and exciting field.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [salary information accessed March 15, 2018] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.