Salesforce.com has three distinct product areas
In my opinion Sales and Service cloud areas do not require much development skills, custom cloud does require coding skills in Apex and Visualforce.
The path to certification for a certified consultant is explained here : http://www.salesforce.com/services-training/training_certification/certification/
for certified consultant (CON201) , you need to pass certified administrator exam (ADM201)
there is a study guide on the website for each of these. you can start reading more about everything online as well as you can request basic book around Sales cloud
by going to this link : https://www.salesforce.com/form/trial/freetrial-bookoffer.jsp?d=70130000000Cs47
for projects / freelancing:
for applying for job at salesforce.com partners , goto: http://sites.force.com/appexchange/results?type=Services
and sort by "certification" to sort by size of the organization. Use LinkedIn to see who is working there and apply through them.
Search for blogs and help resource at www.cloudgofer.com , also there are some books which can help.