What We’ll Cover in This Piece:

  • The rapid growth of the consulting industry.
  • The three major trends in consulting correlated to this growth.
  • How these trends benefit you as a professional.

Related article: Consulting’s $500 Billion Future—And How It Benefits You – An in-depth look at the global workforce changes causing consulting’s growth, and how you can take advantage.

Estimated Time to Read: 4 minutes


The consulting and staffing industry is one of the largest, fastest growing markets in the world. In the next 5 years, the industry is expected to grow to exceed $500 billion.

If you’re a professional, this growth benefits you. Whatever your skills are, they translate to consulting, meaning there are high-paying opportunities opening up for you in the consulting sector every day.

In this article, we’re going to explore three key trends that are influencing this growth surge in the consulting industry, so that you can better understand your opportunities.

1. The “Freelancer Economy” Has Become The Consultant Economy

In 2016, 35% of the US workforce worked as freelancers, creating a freelance market worth $1 trillion.

This growth in freelance work is part of a trend that has been ongoing for years, particularly among creatives and skilled workers. However, for the first time, we’re seeing even high-level business jobs transition from full-time positions to contract work.

In the same way that many skilled workers and creatives found they were able to make more money as freelancers than as W-2 employees, a large number of business professionals are seizing the opportunity to grow their career and income as contracted consultants instead of full-time employees.

This growth in the number of independent consultants has created a giant talent pool of business professionals that companies can now access on an as-needed basis.

2. Companies Are Transitioning To Flexible Workforce Solutions

At least 48% of companies use flexible workforce solutions. The incentives for transitioning from large teams of full-time employees to flexible workforce solutions are simple:

  • Fewer full-time employees means lower overhead in terms of salaries, benefits, and liability.
  • Full-time employees are difficult to let go of—severance and due process are expensive—making workforces difficult to scale and adapt on demand.
  • All of these costs make hiring a full-time employee a much riskier proposition, disincentivizing businesses to grow and scale aggressively.

Companies want to grow and adapt quickly while mitigating risk. The best way for any company to do this is to embrace flexible workforce solutions, where they can hire the talent they need when they need it, and easily scale teams down when necessary.

This benefits you, because companies are able to launch new projects faster, meaning they need to hire more consultants for high-paying roles.

3. Staffing Firms Are Under Pressure To Increase Efficiency

The freelancer economy or the “gig economy” has historically been serviced by online marketplaces. If you’re looking for a virtual assistant or someone to deliver your groceries, using a freelance site like UpWork makes complete sense.

Businesses are understandably reticent, however, to hire $150 an hour consultants off of Fiverr.

Instead, large companies interested in employing flexible workforce solutions use staffing firms like Vaco—who have relationships with all of the top consultants in their industry—to build their consultant teams.

The spike in companies who want to use flexible workforce solutions has increased the pressure on staffing firms to hire top consultants and connect them with companies more efficiently. Software like BenchWatch was developed precisely for this reason.

As an experienced consultant, or someone just starting out, this is great for you.

The more efficiently staffing firms can execute, the easier it is for you to land work. You can be confident in the fact that from the moment you are contracted by a major staffing firm, you are going to be connected with only the projects that fit you perfectly.

The Consulting Market Is Only Going To Grow

All of these trends point to one fact: The consulting market is nowhere near done growing.

As the majority of the world’s businesses transition to flexible workforce solutions, nearly every professional looking to improve their career—both in terms of experience and income—is going  to do so by becoming an independent consultant.

The earlier you start consulting, the better positioned you’ll be for the coming opportunities.

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