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I"m an analyst at a consulting firm, but in a project kick-off meeting with the client our project manager introduced me as a principal consultant. In the slide deck it also listed I was a principal consultant. On another smaller project, the statement of work listed me as a principal consultant and billed me at the standard principal consultant rate for our company.

This seems shady to me, but I want to know if this is normal? One of the main reasons I'm asking is I don't like the vibe I'm getting from this company and have looked at other positions, but I signed a contract to repay any training costs if I leave or am terminated within two years. I either want to leave without paying the training costs or get a raise if I'm going to billed and presented as a principal consultant.

closed as off-topic by Lilienthal, gnat, Dawny33, jimm101, IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 25 '16 at 15:07

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  • What these terms mean is entirely company-dependent. How should we know whether that's normal? (VTC) – Lilienthal Apr 24 '16 at 12:53
  • Sounds like your job title is anaylst, but your role on this project is principal consultant. – Laconic Droid Apr 24 '16 at 13:24
  • "but I signed a contract to repay any training costs if I leave or am terminated within two years." This is the only part I find shady. Where are you located? In some jurisdictions, there are laws governing these kinds of contracts. – Stephan Branczyk May 29 '16 at 22:35
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I think you are confusing the internal and external positions of a consulting company. Internally you are an analyst probably a middle to senior level but externally you might be their principal consultant for the said client.

This means you are the main consultant representing the consulting company at the client. I do not see anything wrong with this as you seem to be the assigned a good responsible position. This speaks volumes about the confidence of your company in you.

  • Internally our structure goes analyst --> consultant --> principal consultant. I was hired just a few months ago and am a little worried about being presented to the client as a principal consultant. I was also told not to introduce myself as an analyst to clients even though my internal contract with the company refers to me as an analyst. – LakewoodSkywriter Apr 24 '16 at 13:21
  • What i see is your are concerned about the billing rate and the pay. This discrepancy is which most people cannot control. So do your job the best. Stick with them for a year. Now you get to put principal consultant in your resume for future job opportunities. Think of it as an investment. If it bothers you too much , you can look for other opportunities and if you get offered , explain them the breakup fee they need to pay. It also has taught you a valuable lesson regarding such contracts. – Learner_101 Apr 24 '16 at 16:08
  • Thanks for the advice. I think my plan is to just put my head down and work there for a year. – LakewoodSkywriter Apr 24 '16 at 19:01
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I worked on a project that was staffed by people from several companies. For that project none of the position names matched the title we had with our companies. There was a chief scientist for the project who was really a software developer. There was a data scientist for the project who was a staff mathematician. There was a QC engineer for the project who was a data analyst...

For your project your company has convinced the customer that you meet their requirements. That means that your pay and benefits and their overhead and profits fall into the range of money the customer is willing to pay for those tasks.

There are times that a company will be willing to lose X$ per hour on employee A, if on the same project they can make an extra 1.5X$ per hour on employee B.

If they are consistently able to make extra profit on you, they may be willing to adjust your pay. I have even seen companies pay employees at a higher rate if they are billing to a small project that makes them a higher profit. I have also seen the reverse, they cut benefits if you were on a project they were losing money on. Of course most people forced onto that money losing project immediately found other projects or another company.

Of course you really have to understand your companies billing rates and expense to know if you are being underpaid compared to what they are billing you.

One other note regarding titles. I worked for one company that called everybody making from 50K to 150K: member of the technical staff.

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This is common enough. Your job title is totally up to the company and externally it can change as often as they like. I actually have clients who give me a job title when referring to me, yet I don't actually work for them in terms of being on their payroll. It's all about appearances and billing.

If you ask for a raise on the strength of the title they're giving you, they might well decide you're not worth it since it's a direct cut into their profits that you earn.

I worked for a company where everyone from the guy helping carry stuff around to the guys working on WANS and Servers was a 'Senior Engineer'. This was purely for show and did not reflect their actual skill levels or tasks. Nor were we all paid the same, our pay reflected our tasks and skills.

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