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A look at the average consultant salary by industry

Written by:
February 6, 2024

This story originally appeared on Simply Business and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

A look at the average consultant salary by industry

When businesses need specialized expertise they don't have internally, they often turn to a consultant to get the job done.

Consultants offer advice and services based on their prior relevant experience, so the pay varies widely. People hire consultants with expertise in a myriad of things—ghostwriting, managing company mergers, gaining admission to Ivy League schools, and planning engineering projects, to name a few.

Consultants of all types make about $43.50 per hour on average nationally, $10 more than the overall typical hourly wage. However, many consultants are hired as independent contractors who do not receive other forms of compensation, such as insurance benefits. 

Simply Business analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to see how much different types of consultants get paid. Wage data is based on the average hourly pay in January and February 2023, the latest data available. Pay can vary depending on work experience and location, so the average should be used only to establish a baseline.

Here's how consultant salaries compare across specialties.


Advertising agency designers brainstorming on table.
1 / 14

Advertising consultant

- Average hourly wage: $52.50

Advertising consultants offer expertise in creating advertising campaigns, as well as placing those ads in print and digital publications. Many professionals in this field can also advise on media planning and buying strategies. Companies may hire an advertising consultant if they do not have enough in-house marketing resources or if they're looking for specific expertise for a certain project. The prevalence and continuing evolution of social media has opened up new opportunities for consultants who specialize in developing advertising strategies and content for specific platforms, such as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter.

Two people using compass and looking at blueprints.
2 / 14

Architectural consultant

- Average hourly wage: $45.77

Architectural consultants can help with planning and designing buildings. They can specialize in residential, institutional, leisure, commercial, or industrial buildings or work across a variety of projects. Local governments may hire architectural consultants to assist with public buildings.

Man on phone looking at laptop.
3 / 14

Computer consultant

- Average hourly wage: $55.14

Computer consultants were the highest paid among the industries analyzed for this list. These consultants specialize in designing and installing computer systems, as well as providing training. In addition, consultants may also be hired to improve a company's cybersecurity or respond to cyberattacks.

Two men at a table in conversation.
4 / 14

Employment consultant

- Average hourly wage: $36.72

Employment consultants often work to help clients find a job or help a company fill a vacant position, adding support to a company's recruitment efforts. These consultants typically have expertise in recruiting, including posting job listings, finding applicants, and interviewing. In an executive search for a high-level employee, where the pool of candidates is often small, an employment consultant with prior experience and contacts can be especially valuable by saving time and money in the search and recruitment process. 

Engineers discussing a project.
5 / 14

Engineering consultant

- Average hourly wage: $49.07

Engineering consultants can improve efficiency and output through their knowledge of design, development, and use of machines, structures, processes, and systems. They may offer advice, conduct feasibility studies, provide technical services, or evaluate engineering projects.

Interior designer working on a vision board for a room.
6 / 14

Interior design consultant

- Average hourly wage: $37.58

People looking to freshen up a room or office space may turn to an interior design consultant. These consultants work to meet the physical and aesthetic needs of their clients. They have expertise in designing and furnishing spaces that take into account building codes, safety regulations, how people will move around the room, and any mechanical or electrical needs.

Landscape architect working on plan for a backyard.
7 / 14

Landscaping consultant

- Average hourly wage: $39.60

Landscape consultants focus on outdoor beautification and functionality. They plan and develop land areas, such as parks and recreational spaces, airports, highways, hospitals, schools, and subdivisions. They may advise on building placement as well as gardens and other landscape features.

Legal counsel sitting with a contract.
8 / 14

Legal consultant

- Average hourly wage: $34.92

Lawyers and attorneys are not considered legal consultants. Legal consultants include other legal professionals who offer services such as notarizing documents, process serving, paralegal services, real estate settlements, and patent filings.

Man consulting with logistics employee.
9 / 14

Logistics consultant

- Average hourly wage: $37.02

Retail, warehousing, or manufacturing companies may hire a logistics consultant to help improve their operations. Logistics consultants can advise on ways to boost productivity, improve systems, implement quality control, and manage inventory. They also can assist with distribution networks, warehouse operations, and shipping.

Group at a table having a business meeting.
10 / 14

Management consultant

- Average hourly wage: $50.24

Management consultants, which include business consultants, can help a company with financial planning, equity and asset management, records management, organizational and strategic planning, building site selection, and new business ventures. Companies are likely to turn to a management or business consultant during times of rapid growth or to prepare for expansion.

Businesswoman leading a meeting looking at charts.
11 / 14

Marketing consultant

- Average hourly wage: $46.98

While an advertising consultant can help a company create and place promotional content, a marketing consultant offers support in identifying customer needs and how to meet them. Marketing consultants can develop marketing goals and strategies, forecast sales, and launch new products. The shift to digital marketing has created a wealth of data that a marketing consultant can use to better understand customers' behavior and interests.

Two professional women discussing something over a laptop.
12 / 14

PR consultant

- Average hourly wage: $54.21

Public relations focuses on promoting the interests and image of a client, and these efforts may complement other marketing and advertising efforts. PR consultants can help clients coordinate media appearances, navigate a crisis, or host an event that brings together influential guests. Companies involved in lobbying and politics often hire PR consultants.

Young couple greeting male realtor.
13 / 14

Real estate consultant

- Average hourly wage: $45.63

Real estate consultants are distinct from real estate agents and brokers, property managers, appraisers, and people leasing property. Instead, these consultants handle real estate escrow and listing services. For instance, an energy production company may hire a real estate consultant to negotiate with landowners on a lease for the mining of minerals and other energy sources.

Financial advisor consulting two business people.
14 / 14

Temp consultant

- Average hourly wage: $24.44

These consultants help companies hire temporary workers to supplement their workforce. Companies may seek out a temp consultant to help with hiring during a busy season or a short-term push to expand operations. Temp consultants were the lowest-paid consultants in this analysis.

Data reporting by Elena Cox. Story editing by Jeff Inglis. Copy editing by Paris Close. Photo selection by Clarese Moller.

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