It’s no secret that the MBA consultant salary continues to skyrocket. Banking and tech are the only other sectors providing any kind of competition to consulting salaries. So if current (and future) comp is the most important factor in your decision between consulting firms or industries, you probably want to know the best 10 consulting firms for MBA consulting salaries.
Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve made it easy for you to get a snapshot of the highest paying consulting firms for MBAs. The even better news? At the top firms, a Harvard MBA salary is exactly the same as a Stanford MBA salary is exactly the same as an MBA salary from any other program. Everyone who lands an offer starts out at the same base salary level (notable exception: Big 4 firms often adjust base salaries for cost of living. So, your salary in NYC will be higher than in Atlanta).
We determined these best consulting firm rankings by the potential total compensation you could receive in Year 1 out of an MBA program. For the purposes of this list, total compensation includes base salary, signing bonus, and performance bonus. Note that only the top 5-10% of performers will receive the max performance bonus, with most consultants receiving half of the maximum amount.
If money is a big factor in your decision, we recommend prioritizing the firms that offer higher base salaries as opposed to the potential for high performance bonuses. You can find the full breakdown in our salaries report.
Max Total Compensation: up to $215,000
In somewhat of a surprise, EY-Parthenon checks in at #10 on our list of best consulting firms for consulting salary. Why is this a surprise? The firm actually leads the pack in terms of highest base salary for MBAs. While your EY-Parthenon base salary is $170,000, performance bonuses are capped and the signing bonus is on par with competitors. Add it all together, and your potential first year total compensation is a cool $215,000 – good, but there’s the potential for more elsewhere.
8. Deloitte S&O
Max Total Compensation: up to $230,000
Another mini-surprise, as the Big 4’s premier strategy practice checks in tied for #8 on our list. Compensation at Deloitte S&O is solid all the way around, with a $160,000 base salary (only $5,000 less than MBB) and up to a $40,000 performance bonus. What makes Deloitte S&O a little unique amongst firms is that it doesn’t partake in on-campus full-time hiring for MBAs. Yes, that’s right – the firm only hires from its MBA intern class. And if you sign early, you get a $30,000 signing bonus. Decide to sign later, and that signing bonus drops to $10,000.
Max Total Compensation: up to $230,000
We have our first MBB sighting! A McKinsey salary this low on our list? That’s right – McKinsey checks in on our best consulting firms for consulting salary ranking with a $165,000 base salary. Add a performance bonus of up to $35,000 and a $30,000 signing bonus to round out the cash compensation, and you’re looking at earning up to $230,000 in your first year. Nothing to sneeze at, and in the ballpark of the rest of the firms of our list. But McKinsey’s total compensation isn’t as high as its reputation – one of the reasons the firm can get away with not being #1 on this list.
Max Total Compensation: up to $236,250
Bain’s MBA salary matches McKinsey and BCG exactly on the base level: $165,000. But Bain offers a higher performance bonus than McKinsey, worth up to $41,250. Couple that with a $30,000 signing bonus (again, on par with McKinsey and BCG) and your max total compensation is over $236,000. Even better? You can expect a 10-15% raise every year, with a 30-40% raise in promotion years.
Max Total Compensation: up to $236,250
BCG is in exactly the same boat as Bain. Both firms offer higher potential performance bonuses to their MBA consultants than McKinsey does, pushing their max compensation a little bit higher. So which firm should you choose? The one where you feel like you are a better cultural fit. The best way to determine this is via the networking process. In addition, check out our Article Guide for resources on determining fit and learning about different consulting firm cultures.
5. A.T. Kearney
Max Total Compensation: up to $237,100
A.T. Kearney is one of the top boutique firms around, as evidenced by some of the toughest (and most quant-heavy) cases we’ve seen. The firm has a stellar reputation, and is one of the few firms that makes it possible for its consultants to transition into McKinsey, Bain, or BCG down the road. ATK is also known for its supply chain expertise – if you have designs on staying in the supply chain world long-term, ATK may just be the best fit for you.
Max Total Compensation: up to $240,000
Another top boutique making a strong showing on our list of best consulting firms for consulting salaries. LEK has long been known for its strategy chops, especially in the healthcare & life sciences space. The firm is growing rapidly, and with offices all around the world, there is no shortage of opportunities to do great work for established international clients. LEK matches McKinsey, Bain, and BCG with a $165,000 base salary for MBA hires, but its bonus structure falls short of what BCG and Bain offer. Where the firm makes up for this is in the up to $50,000 in signing bonuses it offers to returning interns. $25,000 of this is contingent upon a candidate being a returning intern. If you’re a full-time hire and weren’t a summer intern, your first year total comp would be $225,000. The additional $25,000 signing bonus for returning interns pushes the LEK salary into the top 5 on our list of best consulting firms for consulting salary.
Max Total Compensation: $247,500
Accenture has long been known as one of the world’s premier technology consulting firms. But in recent years, the firm’s strategy practice has been making waves by combining its technological prowess with cutting-edge business thinking, focusing on providing competitive agility for its clients. The firm doesn’t pay too badly either. While MBA base pay is lower than competitors ($155,000) the firm makes up for it with a $30,000 performance bonus that all 1st years out of an MBA program receive. In addition, it pays top performers an additional $15,000 performance bonus. And while all signees receive a $30,000 signing bonus, returning interns who sign early receive an additional $17,500, bringing your maximum first year compensation to $247,500.
Max Total Compensation: up to $250,000
AlixPartners is a firm that has pioneered a unique methodology through its meteoric rise in the consulting industry. While the firm works across industries and practice areas, it’s best known for its Turnaround & Restructuring Group. This also explains why the maximum performance bonus the firm offers is incredibly high – $60,000. With a competitive base salary (between $160-165,000 depending on the office) and potential for lucrative bonuses, AlixPartners is well on its way to competing for top talent at name-brand MBA programs.
Max Total Compensation: up to $253,400
Strategy& (not so recently acquired by PwC) is #1 on our list of best consulting firms for consulting salary. The firm bests MBB on base salary ($168,000 vs. $165,000) and offers a max performance bonus of 33% the base salary. If you don’t feel like doing the math, that’s a max performance bonus of $55,400. Add that to the $30,000 signing bonus, and you have the potential as a 1st year MBA to make more at Strategy& than at any other consulting firm.
Your consulting salary is certainly an important factor in deciding which firm to pursue. This list of best consulting firms for consulting salary gives you a solid understanding of the hard numbers, but you still have work to do. Consulting firm culture can affect your overall experience more than any other factor. Do your homework to understand not only firm culture, but your own make-up and desires. What culture would you best thrive in? What do you value most in a work environment? Which consulting firm culture can offer you the non-monetary benefits you are looking for?
Granted, there is no perfect firm. However, your colleagues will play the biggest part in determining your experience. You’ll work some long hours, especially in your early years, so make sure you work those hours with people you genuinely like and respect. Go forth and use this list of best consulting firms for consulting salary as one tool in your tool belt, and like Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade – “choose wisely”!