You’ve made the difficult decision of choosing a career in health IT — great choice! But now it’s time to choose between a consulting firm and a hospital. Maybe you’re already working for one or the other, but want to know what the grass looks like on the other side of the fence.

When looking at the differences, one thing that has most people stumped is that while consulting companies pay the most in health IT, you’ll find the majority of professionals working for hospitals and health systems. In fact, our 2016 Health IT Salary Survey shows consulting companies, which employ 30 percent of respondents, pay nearly 14 percent more than the second highest paying employer, software companies. However, the most common type of employer, reported by 51 percent of respondents, was hospital and healthcare organizations.

With consulting companies paying such an impressive salary, why aren’t all health IT pros flocking to their doors? The truth is, some people simply fit better in one or the other. Like anything, there are pros and cons to each.

So, let’s take a look at the difference between consulting firms and hospitals to help you decide which path to pursue:


Consulting companies may come with a lot of money, but with that also comes frequent travel. Hospitals, on the other hand, don’t typically require a lot of overnight travel.

Some health IT pros absolutely love the idea of traveling for their career. Reflect on your own personality traits and career goals. Travel offers flexibility and can be fun, but it’s also fast-paced and often stressful. Consider what you’re willing to give up for the high pay — like time with family and being able to kick your feet up at home at the end of each day.

If you’re up for an exciting challenge and a chance to roam, a consulting company might just be the choice for you.

Workload stress

If you already have a job as a health IT pro, it’s probably no surprise that most of your colleagues think they are expected to do too much in too short of a period of time. One of our latest reports, The 2016 Health IT Stress Report, shows 34 percent of health IT employees say expectations are unreasonable and 32 percent say they don’t fully understand what is expected of them.

In a non-consulting environment, an IT manager and project manager are receiving orders from upper management, which means you’ll likely have someone defining goals and expectations. However, consulting companies add even more tension to this already highly stressful field because they’re prone to unclear expectations. Health IT pros in consulting companies often work with clients who make everything seem urgent and may not understand how to clearly explain what they want.

Depending on your personality and ability to handle stressful situations, a consulting company could be a volatile environment for you. However, for those of you looking for the thrill of a challenge, this just might be the perfect place to put your skills to the test.


If you like the predictability of going into work and knowing you’ll understand your day-to-day responsibilities — a hospital or health system is probably your ideal workplace. Everyday tasks will still vary with different cases, so chances are, you won’t get bored in this environment.

Surprises at work and figuring out difficult situations may be your favorite type of challenge — which is exactly what consulting companies, or even being self-employed can offer.

Not everyone has the ability to stay cool in stressful situations — and that’s OK. But if you’re someone who is known for successfully solving issues when a wrench is thrown into scheduled plans, consulting firms or self-employment are the perfect places for you.


All positions in health IT require specialized skill, knowledge, and experience, but consulting professionals need to continue learning. In this type of workplace, you will have to digest a lot of information and know how to apply it in multiple ways.

While the learning curve is steep, it can be highly rewarding to apply a set of specialized skills to solve a client’s problems with innovative methods.

No matter which type of employer you choose, you’ll need creativity to solve unique problems along with teamwork and communication skills. The most important piece in making this decision is knowing your own personality and career goals.

What differences have you found between consulting companies and hospitals? Let us know in the comments below!

Consulting Firm Or Hospital: Here's How To Make The Best Decision For You by