Many people who call themselves consultants are actually contractors.  Being a contractor is perfectly respectable, and can be a great option for some people, but it is a very different path than that of a true consultant.  A few key differences

A contractor is paid for their time.  A consultant is paid for the value they create.

A contractor is managed by the client.  A consultant structures their own process.

A contractor looks like an employee, often with a desk, phone and email address at the client.  A consultant looks like an outsider. 

A contractor might stay at the client for months or even years without a specific endgoal.  A consultant usually works in discrete phases of 8-12 weeks, with clear objectives at each stage.

A contractor usually works on site.  A consultant determines where to do teh work.

A contractor usually "fills a hole" left by a missing person (maternity leave, downsizing, changing org structure…).  A consultant usually goes beyond "filling the hole" to capitalize on new opportunities.

A contractor usually only has one project underway at a time.  A consultant can work with many, and in fact, it's that broad experience that contributes to the value they can provide.

A contractor provides arms and legs.  A consultant provides expertise and guidance.