AskDefine | Define consultant

Dictionary Definition

consultant n : an expert who gives advice; "an adviser helped students select their courses"; "the United States sent military advisors to Guatemala" [syn: adviser, advisor]

User Contributed Dictionary



From consultant


  1. a person or party that is consulted.
  2. a person whose occupation is to be consulted for their expertise, advice, or help in an area or
specialty. Alternatively, a party whose business is to be similarly consulted.
Derived terms: consultancy




present participle of consulter



Extensive Definition

A consultant (from the Latin consultare means "to discuss" from which we also derive words such as consul and counsel) is a professional who provides advice in a particular area of expertise such as accountancy, the environment, technology, law, human resources, marketing, medicine, finance, economics, public affairs, communication, engineering, sound system design, graphic design, or waste management.
A consultant is usually an expert or a professional in a specific field and has a wide knowledge of the subject matter. A consultant usually works for a consultancy firm or is self-employed, and engages with multiple and changing clients. Thus, clients have access to deeper levels of expertise than would be feasible for them to retain in-house, and to purchase only as much service from the outside consultant as desired. It is generally accepted good corporate governance to hire consultants as a check to the Principal-Agent problem.
'Consultant' is also the term used to denote the most senior medical position in the United Kingdom, Australia and Ireland (e.g., a consultant surgeon).

Ways in which consultants work

Often a consultant provides expertise to clients who require a particular type of knowledge or service for a specific period of time, thus providing an economy to the client. In other situations, companies implementing a major project may need additional experienced staff to assist with increased work during that period.
More recently the term is also used euphemistically for temporary staff. That resource is only temporarily employed by a company to augment the company's core set of employees without providing any unique expertise. This usually indicates that the consultant could be expended when demand for that particular skill diminishes, though this expendability is sometimes recompensed with higher pay. In this usage, the consultant is usually employed through a limited company which they themselves own, or through an umbrella company. Consulting has come under some criticism because of staff augmentation and the high amount of jargon consultants use, also known as consultantese.
Sometimes a consultant is not an independent agent but is a partner or an employee of a consultancy, that is a company that provides consultants to clients on a larger scale or in multiple, though usually related, skill areas. This has advantages both to the client and to the consultant by:
  • Providing a pool of talent that can be quickly mobilized as required
  • Reassuring the client about the quality of the consultants supplied
  • Giving the client access to the experience and methodologies of the whole consultancy rather than an individual
  • Introducing the consultant to new experiences and techniques which may, eventually, permeate through the consultancy as a whole
A consultant giving career advice and training to an individual or a team is often termed a coach, and a consultant assisting an organization to develop a new strategy or solve a particular problem is sometimes referred to as a facilitator.
Strategy consultants are common in upper management in many industries. There are also independent consultants who act as interim executives with decision-making power under corporate policies or statutes. They may sit on specially constituted boards or committees.

External links

consultant in German: Unternehmensberater
consultant in Spanish: Consultor
consultant in French: Consultant
consultant in Indonesian: Konsultan
consultant in Dutch: Adviseur
consultant in Japanese: コンサルティング
consultant in Norwegian: Konsulent
consultant in Portuguese: Consultor
consultant in Romanian: Consultant
consultant in Russian: Консалтинг
consultant in Serbian: Консултант
consultant in Finnish: Konsultti
consultant in Swedish: Konsult
consultant in Chinese: 顾问

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Admirable Crichton, Dutch uncle, Polonius, adept, admonisher, adviser, advisor, artisan, artist, attache, authority, backseat driver, buttinsky, confidant, connaisseur, connoisseur, cordon bleu, counsel, counselor, crack shot, craftsman, dead shot, diplomat, diplomatist, doctor, elder statesman, experienced hand, expert, expert consultant, graduate, guide, handy man, instructor, journeyman, kibitzer, marksman, meddler, mentor, monitor, nestor, no slouch, orienter, physician, politician, preceptist, pro, professional, professor, proficient, savant, shark, sharp, specialist, statesman, teacher, technical adviser, technician
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