What is an IT Consultant?

An IT consultant provides various technical support and services to clients. Some IT consultants serve internal customers, such as through helping managers with new information system installations, but other IT consultants temporarily assist customers with one-time, random technology problems. Some experienced IT consultants only provide advice and support for business executives regarding IT strategy, research, solutions and development, according to CNN .

Entry-Level Help-desk Consultant

Some help-desk IT consultants only have limited education, so they just install, troubleshoot and repair basic software and hardware. For example, they may configure, monitor and maintain business applications, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) programs, and office production applications, such as Microsoft Excel and Access. They will regularly monitor and update enterprise-wide virus protection software. These help-desk technicians will maintain logs related to network functioning, maintenance and repair. These IT consultants often are responsible for performing scheduled data backups and completing data recovery requests. They also participate in systems failure and disaster recovery operations. These IT help-desk consultants may act as customer service reps who respond to incoming client requests via IM, email and phone. This means that they must have excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

Senior Help-desk Consultant

Some help-desk IT consultants are systems engineers who are responsible for the ongoing maintenance and administration of business client networks. They will analyze system and equipment performance to determine the need for repair or replacement. They may confer with network users to better understand system-wide problems in order to solve them. They may configure and test computer hardware and peripheral equipment as well as networking software and operating system software. In order to properly diagnose, troubleshoot and resolve network and system problems, they must gather data pertaining to user needs and use this to identify, predict and interpret technology requirements. Senior help-desk IT consultants may monitor historical system performance to determine if adjustments need to be made and when these changes should be implemented.

Field Service IT Consultant

Most field service IT consultants work for companies that sell technology products and services. They also work for third-party IT service providers that offer comprehensive IT support and solutions. Field service techs are responsible for providing services and resolutions for on-site residential and business clients. Their typical work may include virus removals, network troubleshooting, software training and IT-phone system integration problems. They perform router, computer and software installations. They are responsible for monitoring their daily schedule, traveling to and from on-site appointments and completing various jobs with success. These IT consultants must have very strong technical skills in order to quickly troubleshoot servers, computers, networks and business environments by themselves. The tools they use every day will include screw drivers, magnifying glasses, IT performance meters, USB cable with apps, remote control hardware and laptop computers.

Related Resource: What is an Enterprise Systems Designer?

An IT consultant may also conduct internal audits for compliance with financial industry standards and government regulations. These IT consultants may audit inventory, acquisition, accounting, supply chain and investment data systems and structures. They must be proficient in evaluating and investigating internal controls, network monitoring and information security programs. Senior IT consultants who cater to corporate clients may only provide advice and support for IT strategy and systems. They may facilitate and lead teams in the creation and execution of process improvement solutions.