Many are calling today’s world a “knowledge economy.” They are suggesting that if people want to get rich in this economic reality, they have to have significant knowledge of some subject. This is different, of course, than the economies of the past. In the past, labor and physical work might have been valued. Mechanical or engineering skill might have commanded more money. In the knowledge economy, though, people who are able to bring significant knowledge and understanding to the table are able to make more money. It’s why companies in Silicon Valley compete for the best students.
People within the knowledge economy who gain their expertise need to understand how to get paid for what they know. There are many ways to do so. Providing expert witness testimony is one of the best ways to get paid for knowing a lot about a subject. Expert witnesses are hired in litigation to offer their knowledge as evidence to help a jury make a determination. Some good experts know a lot about financial services. Others can explain a technical science issue in words that the average person can understand. What’s important is that they are lending credence to one particular set of facts with their expert opinion. The court takes it seriously, and juries often make their decisions on the basis of these opinions.
Others get paid for consulting. Consulting services could be better deemed problem solving services. They involve taking a look at the problem, identifying its root causes and coming up with sustainable solutions for companies or others who are facing strategic challenges. With consulting, a person is quite literally being paid for the contents of their brain. They bring a different perspective to the table than the one that a company might have at the time in which the problem manifested itself. As a consultant, one has the ability to get creative while getting paid for whatever knowledge one has gained in a given field.
If the knowledge economy is going to persist, people with high levels of knowledge are going to have to put themselves out there to get paid. They are opportunities for smart people to make money and have a major influence on the corporate or legal world. It is incumbent on those people to ensure that they are using every potential opportunity at their disposal.