Analyst vs. Consultant: What's the Difference?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 11, 2021 | Published January 29, 2021

Updated March 11, 2021

Published January 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Analyst and consultant are often used interchangeably, especially in the financial sector. While these jobs certainly have similar duties, several key differences set them apart. Understanding the similarities and differences between a career as an analyst and as a consultant is key when deciding which career path to pursue. In this article, we'll explore what analysts and consultants are, how they are similar and different and how to choose which career is right for you.

What is an analyst?

An analyst is a professional who advises individuals, businesses and organizations regarding business or financial matters. There are several different types of analysts, but most types deal with finances or business matters in some way. The primary types of analysts include:

Business analyst

Business analysts are responsible for conducting market assessments and helping businesses make decisions based on their findings to increase the profitability of the company.

Operations analyst

An operations analyst works in an operations team that supports data management, issue resolution and client matters. Duties include determining operational requirements and opportunities, creating new processes and procedures to maximize productivity and establishing quality standards.

Financial analyst

Financial analysts analyze the performance of various investments including bonds, stocks and commodities. They use the information found to offer guidance to individuals and businesses looking to invest.

Supply chain analyst

A supply chain analyst collects and analyzes data related to the efficiency of a particular supply chain and makes recommendations on how to enhance the success and productivity of that supply chain.

Accounting analyst

An accounting analyst works as part of an accounting department or with other financial professionals to assist in evaluating a company's monetary matters. Common duties include analyzing financial data, preparing financial reports and providing solutions to any accounting issues that may arise.

Social media analyst

Social media analysts are responsible for assessing social media analyst campaigns and studying their performance for each post as well as the entire social media campaign as a whole. Duties include assessing social media post metrics, offering advice to content creators to help them improve their content and researching new social media tools and trends to be implemented.

Insurance analyst

An insurance analyst is a professional who evaluates insurance policies and assesses them for any risks for the insurance company and the policyholder. Duties include meeting with clients and helping them choose the policy that will best meet their needs and making the policy changes, cancellations and renewals.

Quality assurance analyst

Quality assurance analysts work to evaluate systems, software and products to ensure they work effectively and are up-to-par on the quality standards set by the company.

Read more: Learn About Being an Analyst

What is a consultant?

A consultant is a professional who is specially trained in a particular area and advises individuals and organizations on matters related to the consultant's area of expertise. These professionals have often spent several years working in the area in which they practice and use the knowledge gained to help others succeed. The most common types of consultants include:

Business consultant

This type of consultant offers advice to businesses that help them improve their overall performance and efficiency.

Marketing consultant

A marketing consultant is an expert in marketing and analyzes a company's marketing tactics, makes recommendations to increase effectiveness and suggests marketing strategies to increase leads and brand awareness.

Sales consultant

This type of consultant works with organizations to develop their sales plan and process.

Legal consultant

A legal consultant is often a lawyer or legal expert who provides businesses and individuals with advice pertaining to legal matters.

Accounting consultant

An accounting consultant assesses a business's financial documents and assists the company in making good financial decisions to support growth and profitability.

Technology consultant

A technology consultant is a technology expert who assists organizations with finding and implementing the best technology solutions for their unique needs and goals.

Read more: Learn About Being a Consultant

How are analysts and consultants similar?

There are several similarities between the jobs of an analyst and a consultant. A primary similarity is the nature of their work. Both professionals help other professionals and organizations improve their businesses in various aspects including finance and business. Additionally, both consultants and analysts create and provide reports based on their findings in a particular organization or situation. Companies use these reports to make better-informed decisions going forward.

Consultants and analysts also take into account the systems and procedures a company or organization uses. They assess these procedures and systems for strengths and weaknesses and make recommendations based on their findings. Another similarity is that both types of professionals compare a company or organization to its competitors within the marketplace. This offers an opportunity to find any potential opportunities to help a company set itself apart from the competition.

Related: How To Start Your Own Consulting Business in 10 Steps

Differences between analysts and consultants

There are also several differences between analysts and consultants. One of these differences is that most consultants specialize in a certain field and can therefore offer advice on a variety of issues within that field. An analyst typically specializes in one area within a field and can only offer advice related to that specific area.

Other differences between these two professions include:

Salaries

An analyst makes an average of $74,070 per year in the United States. A consultant makes an average of $72,239 per year.

Responsibilities

The following are the most common responsibilities for a consultant:

  • Creating plans for strategic company positioning and share them with company executives

  • Preparing written plans and reports and present them to upper management and company executives

  • Making recommendations based on findings to improve a particular area in a business

  • Taking part in staff meetings that are related to the consultant's specialty

  • Learning about a company's needs and challenges and identify and issues that may interfere with the company's success

  • Conducting training courses for employees

The following are the most common duties of an analyst:

  • Researching and creating reports based on particular trends in a business or industry

  • Drawing insights that businesses can use to improve profitability and efficiency

  • Using various tools to collect data for research and analysis

  • Delivering reports to company executives and management based on findings

  • Providing suggestions on how an organization can make decisions in a more informed manner

Qualifications

Qualifications for consultants typically include:

  • A Bachelor's Degree in Finance, Business, Marketing or a related field

  • Experience in the field the consultant wants to work in

  • Consulting certifications (these are not required but can set consultants apart from the competition)

  • A Master's Degree in Finance, Management or a related field

Most analysts need the following qualifications to be considered for a position:

  • A Bachelor's Degree in Business or a related field

  • A minimum of three to five years of experience in the field the analyst wishes to practice

  • Advanced technical skills

Some analysts also choose to pursue a master's degree such as a Master of Business Administration.

Work environment

The work environment for analysts and consultants is similar in that both professionals typically work in an office environment. However, many consultants work on an independent contractor basis, whereas analysts are typically hired full time by an organization. Both jobs require typically workweek hours that are typically between 40 and 50 hours a week. Some analyst and consulting positions may require professionals to travel.

Explore more articles