by Cameron Macht
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services is one of the fastest growing and highest paying industry sectors in Minnesota. However, like the work these consultants perform, much of this growth happened behind the scenes.
After expanding almost 40 percent over the last decade, there are now nearly 3,100 Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services employer establishments in Minnesota, providing just over 14,100 jobs. In addition, there were another 12,900 self-employed consultants. Combined, there are about 27,000 people working in the consulting sector in Minnesota.
Since they rely on business from other industries, consulting services are also negatively impacted by recessions. Following the recession in 2001, many consulting gigs dried up, especially for self-employed consultants. However, as the economy began growing in the middle part of the decade, consultants began hiring again, and hundreds of brand new establishments popped up. Since the recession, the Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services sector has gained 170 net new business establishments, more than 1,600 net new jobs, and more than 800 non-employer establishments. These consultants and contract workers have capitalized on outsourcing trends, filling a vital lack for businesses that need to get up to speed quickly.
Consultants provide their clients with valuable technical expertise, skills, or services that they don’t have in-house or can’t handle themselves. As regulations and markets have become increasingly complex, more organizations have turned to consultants to help them succeed. They contract out essential business functions including marketing, human resources, information systems, supply chain management, and strategic planning among many other areas. Because anyone with expertise in a specific area can become a consultant, opportunities for small businesses to join the industry and make some money abound.
To meet their clients’ needs, these consulting services typically employ a small but multi-disciplined staff of analysts, managers, specialists, scientists, engineers, and other technicians with expertise in a broad range of domains. Some of the largest employing occupations in this industry include:
- Management analysts
- Office clerks
- Business operations specialists
- General and operations managers
- Customer service representatives
- Market research analysts
- Software developers
Not surprisingly, most of these jobs require specific education or training plus relevant work experience. Because of higher educational requirements, employees in Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services are also higher wage earners, with median wages ranging from about $15 an hour for office clerks to $45 an hour for software developers.
After seeing tremendous growth in the last decade, the Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services sector is expected to see rapid growth in the next decade as well. According to DEED’s Employment Outlook tool, the consulting sector is projected to grow 43.6 percent from 2010 to 2020, an increase of 5,768 jobs. That’s three times faster than the total of all industries.
While the state as a whole is expected to see rapid growth in the consulting industry, it is almost completely concentrated in the 7-county Twin Cities region. More than 80 percent of the state’s consulting jobs are currently located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, and more than 95 percent of the state’s projected job growth is expected to happen there as well.
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services industry will provide a great opportunity for growth throughout the state. Although employment might be less stable, well-educated workers with specialized skills — especially those in the baby boom generation — may be able to jump into and out of employment and self-employment quickly, depending on the economy.