Some do it because they're ready for a new challenge. Some have an insatiable itch to be their own boss. Some do it because they've flat-out had it with their current employer.

And some do it because they simply need work.

Regardless of the circumstances that motivate manufacturing managers and executives to test the waters of consulting, there are plenty of pros and cons to weigh before jumping in headfirst.

That's why Doug Gates, a partner in KPMG LLP's aerospace and defense practice, recommends talking with practicing consultants to get a sense of what it's like.  

"The travel is brutal, even as a partner," Gates says. "You're on the road two to three days a week at minimum. Sometimes five days a week."

With more than a decade of consulting under his belt, Gates emphasizes that the career is "a partnership with your family."

"The travel and being taken away from your home -- understand what that would do for your family," Gates says. "Make sure they're right for it too. Those with young kids struggle more so than folks with kids who are a little bit more grown.

"We've lost many good consultants back to industry because they hit that point in life where their kids, their wife, their family in general just needed them to be closer to home."