The truth behind management consulting salaries: from analyst thru partner

Consultant salaries is a topic many readers are dying to learn more about.

I’ve gathered the data from my own experience, consulting colleagues, and public sources. They won’t be 100% accurate but should be pretty close.

One resource I’ve found valuable is the Consulting forums at WallStreetOasis.

First year out of undergraduate:

  • Base salaries: $50-65K
  • Signing bonuses: $5-10K
  • Relocation/moving expenses: $5-10K
  • Year-end bonus: $5-10K depending on firm.

That’s an average of $70-75K in first year consulting pay. As a summer intern, you can expect a comparable, pro-rated salary minus bonus. This does not include retirement contributions.

I did a whole post on 2013 consulting salaries  - read it for specifics on offers from firms like Bain, BCG, A.T. Kearney, Deloitte, etc.  It includes summer internship figures and offers from EMEA and Australia.

First year out of business school/MBA:

  • Base salaries: $110-140K
  • Signing bonuses: $20-40K
  • Relocation/moving expenses: $10-20K
  • Year-end bonus: $20-40K depending on firm.

That’s an average of $160-200K in total first year consulting pay. Again, consulting summer interns should expect a pro-rated portion minus bonus. This does not include retirement contributions. My original estimates were a bit lower, but have been adjusted upward based on emails and the comments below.

Progression track through partner:

My numbers have a higher risk of being inaccurate as this is only from personal anecdotes, so if you have better information, email me or comment below

  • Engagement manager/Project leader: $175-250K
  • Associate principal/Senior project leader: $250-400K
  • Partner/Principal: $500-800K
  • Senior partner/Director: $1M plus

Senior consultant salaries becomes increasingly variable and performance-based

How consulting salaries lose to finance:

At almost every level, your salary will be 30-50% lower than a comparable position in investment banking. This is variable by year and median salaries in non-banking departments (such as research, asset management, sales & trading) are lower than in banking. But as mentioned in the consulting versus banking post, consulting is not a profession to make big bucks.

How consulting firms compensate for the lower salaries:

  • Better benefits – healthcare, life insurance, etc
  • Retirement contributions – this one is important because at MBB, they’ll contribute an added 5-10% of your base salary to your retirement funds, effectively a 5-10% year-end bonus! (A reader just informed me that his MBB retirement contribution starting fulltime in ’09 was 4.5%, which is lower than I’d seen in previous years)
  • More generous expense/reimbursement policies, travel perks, etc

We offer resume editing and interview prep. Through one-on-one sessions, we’ll help you stand out from 1000′s of other applicants and land consulting jobs now!

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  • Shutup

    Sounds like you’re looking for free advice. Google the study you asked for.

  • jennyrae

    In college, look into classes that will demonstrate your quantibility such as econ, advanced math, and classes that teach strategy like game theory. Remember, a top GPA is mandatory. While it’s great to take classes to learn, it’s necessary to perform well.

  • jennyrae

    Raj,
    You’re probably just finishing your degree now, but if you’ve still got any specific questions, e-mail us using the Contact Form at the top of the page.

  • jennyrae

    You’ve probably already started your MHA, but we’d love to help you. Feel free to shoot us an e-mail using the contact link.

  • jennyrae

    James, if you’re interested in for-profit work, you need to make a change ASAP. Sure, going into a group like Bridgespan, which is focused on advising non-profits would be a great fit for you, but you won’t have the option to switch to commercial consulting later. Because you’re off cycle and not necessarily coming from a target school, you’re going to need to network your way in. Get started ASAP.

  • jennyrae

    Sam,
    You’re looking pretty far ahead, but if you choose the track you proposed here, you’re going to have a great shot at consulting. You do need to perform well in your undergraduate classes, but amongst consultants, there’s a strong network of ex-military folks. They will be a great resource for you when the time comes. Our Networking Bible shares some expertise on how to leverage shared backgrounds, so you may want to check it out.

  • jennyrae

    It is true that the firms will hire PhDs and scientists from top pedigree programs and distinctive experience. Most of them also are great networkers. Feel free to contact us about your specific experience.

  • jennyrae

    We would love to help, but need a bit more information. E-mail us directly using the Contact form at the top of the page, and we’d love to work with you.

  • jennyrae

    From what you’ve told us, you have some promising opportunities. Are you asking about expectations for which position you could be offered from what types of firms, or expectations of our services? Please e-mail us using the Contact Form. We’d love to help you break into consulting and think you’d have a good chance with the right networking and case study strategies.

  • jennyrae

    Thanks for inquiring. We will e-mail a response your way. If you don’t see it soon, reach out to us directly through our contact form at the top of the page.

  • jennyrae

    Are you still on the journey of breaking in? We’d be happy to help give some advice. Contact us directly through the form at the top of the page, and we can go from there.

  • jennyrae

    Hey Nina, other advance degrees are at the MBA level. You’d be a target applicant for McKinsey and BCG. Bain and some of the 2 Tier firms hire less frequently out of alternative degree programs.

  • jennyrae

    It is true that they hire scientists with no business experience, but they must have business understanding and evidence it through the cases in the interview. A scientist has to perform at the same level through the interview process, which may require more interview preparation. If you go that route, be sure to check out our interview prep options on the sales page. It is an ideal way to prepare.

  • jennyrae

    The LLB and BL are relevant to consulting, but you’d need to demonstrate business experience/interest on top of it. Your secretarial studies and OND are liabilities and should be left off your resume.

  • jennyrae

    1) Yes. It’s a totally different career path.
    2) No idea. Marketing specialists are in support roles where Associates are on the partner track. It will be less than the Associate role.

  • Chris

    I am a NYU Stern MBA that was a Deloitte S&O Summer Associate and signed on as Senior Consultant. All offers were the same regardless of school: $140k salary + $40K signing bonus + $7.5k early sign bonus + second year MBA tuition reimbursement ($50k) + end of year/performance pay bonus ~$15k-$20k.

  • Deloitte PPD

    Completely wrong. 70K out of school, 130K for MBAs. SM top end is about right. Partner is way off, increase of about 120 to 150K first year (pay back about 40K per year, so still big increase) and if you do well then about 75 to 100k each year for the first 3 or 4 years.

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  • Dmitry

    Hello. These figures are applied worldwide? What interests me most is what figures MMB employees make in Russia. Do you guys have any info?

  • Ppd

    They are right for sure. I’m a ppd and have access to the numbers.

  • Ppd

    Another parter here. Sm numbers r 2 high. Partners go from about.225 to 400 with 100k raises a year if they perform the first few years. Yes u pay back loan but its only 30k a year so still big raise. I’m going into my third year with 580 units or 600k.

  • Ppd

    He has no clue.

  • Didn’t

    Then you are bad. That’s what we pay. Don’t be upset you went to a crappy school or were rejected.

  • In the know

    Wow no clue. Salaries are right and it takes directors 2 years to get fired. Partners can’t get fired just bought out and you usually get 3 years of bad performance .

  • Dio

    MBA, for sure.

  • Dio

    A lot. The firms look for the best and the brightest but have limited time and resources to recruit. That’s why they go to places like Harvard or Columbia. Certainly not everyone from those places are amazing, but the probability is higher there than your local community college.

  • RefriedBeans

    If you have to ask strangers on the Internet how to run your life, how are you going to run a hospital?

  • G

    The article is pretty accurate. I’m a first year student in a top 10 MBA right now and I’ll intern for a management consulting firm for the summer. My salary (base only) will be ~$11,500/month + housing. Also according to my classmates $120k-140k is a typical starting consulting salary for MBA grads.

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  • Shellyj

    I was recently offered a position as a consultant. Not a senior consultant. Offered 93k, 15k sign on 5k relocation. I have an. MBA but not from a top ten but I have over 3.5 GPA and had 4.5 years of work experience before MBA- any ideas why I didn’t get a high offer?

  • http://www.AirTIghtMgt.com Bob Norton

    Everyone seems to be pretending all people are the same and that your degree and GPA is all that matter. This is just not reality. Those are the price of entry. Consultants get paid for expertise and experience, not education. A firm is hiring you with the hope that you are worth something 2-3 years later. Let’s face it no recent grad knows diddly, or will be trusted by any Fortune 1000 executive. You will not “run” any engagemetn without close oversight and years of experience. You are doing grunt work for the first 1-2 years like discovery legwork, market research, client interface etc. No firm would ever let you really do “Consulting”. That’s just a title so they can bill you out at $150+ per hour and pay you $50.
    Anyone that thinks an MBA qualifies you to consult, do strategy, manage engagements and customers needs to rethink what an education is for. It is a foundation, not the building. Useless without experience. Consultants are EXPERTS in some area. Expert means 5+ years full-time experience, not book learning or even brilliance. All should read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

  • Mgmtconsultant

    I know firsthand that Booz & company’s salaries are aligned to this study. I assume by your comment that you are not in management consulting or maybe are with a firm that has less competitive rates…