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What Does a Technical Consultant Do?

By Jan Fletcher
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A technical consultant brings specific expertise to the design, instruction, or operations of technical solutions. Some technical consultants may work in an instructional capacity with clients, training end users. Others may assist product engineers, or perform other work in manufacturing operations as a technical support person within a production capacity. Those who work as technical consultants may be members of a design team working on a large project. Companies or research labs may bring in a technical consultant to resolve one aspect of an operation.

Generally, those technical consultants who work as developers are recruited to devise a specific solution to a technical issue in developing a product or device. Process consulting applies technical solutions to improving manufacturing operations. A technical consultant may work as a designer of technology, developing new solutions. Those in this capacity are typically either engineers, or they are working closely in a team with engineering expertise.

An engineering technical consultant may be recruited to develop a technical solution to a hurdle that must be circumvented. He or she would then work with the client to gather all relevant facts and assist the company in engineering a technical solution. For example, a manager of an assembly line might conclude that one step in the operation regularly bogs down, idling other workers. An engineering technical consultant would investigate the cause, and propose a solution. This might involve calling in a process engineer who would design the actual solution.

Some consultants work in technical support, helping users understand and operate hardware or software. For example, a computer or software technical consultant may demonstrate how to use the features of a product in retail setting as a product support tech. In this form of technical consultancy, the consultant may train the user, or troubleshoot technical difficulties. Assistance may be given by telephone or in person. Technical consultants who work for a sales operation may train front-line sales personnel in how to use the solution, and what specific benefits it provides.

Companies often hire technical consultants as independent contractors. The reason for this arrangement is so the company can access very specific technical expertise tailored to the problem at hand, without incurring the overhead of a full-time expert. As a result, the company avoids paying the ongoing overhead for an in-house consultant.

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Discussion Comments
By mobilian33 — On Jan 10, 2015

@Laotionne - If someone is going to pay for a consultant then they are probably looking for someone with a good bit of experience and knowledge, so getting to be a consultant will be a process, not an overnight change.

By Sporkasia — On Jan 10, 2015

@Laotionne - There are so many different types of technical consultants that the range in salaries can differ a great deal from person to person. I have a friend who works as a consultant for companies that produce technical manuals.

My friend worked as a newspaper journalist for years before getting into technical writing and eventually into consulting. She makes much more money as a consultant than she did writing for newspapers.

She works as a freelancer so she works for several companies. Some of her clients pay based on the assignment while others pay her an hourly rate. In some cases she writes the manuals and in other cases she simply edits the work of the companies' in-house writers.

By Feryll — On Jan 09, 2015

@Laotionne - I have a friend who was a math wiz in high school. He could just look at a calculus equation and begin to solve it in his head without knowing all of the formulas and theories. He was as close as it gets to a natural when it comes to mathematics. He decided to major in mathematics in college, but at some point he began to focus in on the engineering field.

He is now a senior technical consultant. I don't know exactly what he does, but he does a lot of work with an aviation manufacturer. I'm not sure of his exact salary, but he makes well over a $100,000 a year.

By Laotionne — On Jan 08, 2015

Does anyone know how much a technical consultant can expect to earn in salary during the course of a year, or per hour, or per assignment? Working as a technical consultant sounds like it could be an interesting profession with many possible opportunities.

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