Difference between Consultant and Freelancer

Key Difference: A freelance person is self-employed who does contractual work for a number of clients. A consultant is someone who comes in and advises on a variety of tasks or projects.

ConsultingConsultant and Freelancer are two job titles that may seem very similar. After all, their job responsibilities are somewhat similar. They both are hired to work for a certain duration of time, or on a particular project, yet they are two completely different job profiles.

A freelancer is someone who is self-employed, basically they don’t answer to or work for a particular employer. Instead, they answer to themselves and are their own boss. They don’t have employers, they have clients. Depending on the work or project, they can choose to work for one particular client at a time, or juggle multiple clients. Similarly, they may bill their clients according to the project or by the hour. Different freelancers have different ways of handling their business.

A consultant, on the other hand, is also very similar. They also work independently and have their own clients. Depending on the work and their own choice, they may also work for one client at a time or work for multiple clients at the same time. However, unlike a freelancer, a consultant may be an internal consultant or an external consultant. An internal consultant is someone who works primarily with one company, almost like an employee, and is available to them to various other departments for consulting. An external consultant is someone who is employed to come in and consult the client on a particular project or problem, or on their day to day operations.

One of the primary difference between a freelancer and a consultant is that a freelancer is a hired for a particular task or objective, i.e. write an article, or a copy, or to design a logo, etc. These tasks are something that an employee would do, but instead of hiring a full-time employee, the company has decided to use a freelancer instead. The benefit being that they don’t have to spend the time and energy hiring a full-time employee and proving them with benefits. Additionally, a freelancer is a great option when one just does not have enough work that justifies hiring a full-time employee.

Alternately, a consultant has more of advisory role. They are brought on to solve a problem or to give advice on something. Consultants are better suited to this task, as they are usually people who have years of experience in the industry and are often seen as market leaders. They are often experts in their field or industry and are generally trusted to know what they are talking about. Hence, their advice is often sought after.

The projects that a consultant but be brought in for can be small or large. Hence, the time they are hired may differ. The objective of a freelancer’s job is quantitative. They are brought in to complete a particular project and they must do just that, whereas the objective of a consultant’s job is quality. They are not there to complete a task, but rather to see how to improve that task, the functionality, or its success.

FreelancerAnother difference between the two is the amount of money they make. The payment rate of a freelancer may vary depending on their experience and the quality of their work. However, no matter how much they earn, chances are that the rates of a consultant will be higher. The reason for this is that fact that a consultant generally has much more knowledge than a freelancer and will generally have a lot more experience.

While, the job of a freelancer did not even exist a few years ago, or at least was known as something else in other industries, i.e. contract pay, the job of a consultant has been pretty well defined. However, nowadays the lines are quite blurry. There are times where a freelancer may work as a consultant, while a consultant may also take on a job as a freelancer.

Comparison between Consultant and Freelancer:




Job Description

Comes in and advises on a variety of tasks or projects.

Works on a particular project or task for a particular outcome


Descriptors, such as adviser, guru and specialist

Tied to a specific career field or job title, such as writer, journalist and graphic designer.


More experience, usually 10+ years

Varies, but typically less than a consultant


Qualitative – improve the task they are overseeing.

Quantitative  – finish the task that they are assigned.


Much higher

Lower as compared to a Consultant

Reference: Wikipedia (Consultant and Freelancer), Study.com,
Investopedia, The Balance, Freelance Folder
Image Courtesy: ichemepresident.wordpress.com, spiderg.com

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