The truth behind consulting salaries – How much money consultants make, from analyst to partner
“How much money does a consultant make?”
"Are the long hours and stress really worth it?"
"Do you get rich with consulting?"
Many times I found myself asking these questions before joining McKinsey.. Well, believe me, the truth is that consulting pays well, period!
But the actual salary level depends at least on two dimensions:
Which company you are working for
Within the company, which office (location) you are based in
Today I am going to focus on the typical compensation packages of the MBB (McKinsey, BCG and Bain) because (a) these are the companies I know best and (b) these are the top paying firms in the consulting market.
I am going to list the salaries related to the US market. Consider anyway that the differences among offices in US and outside US can be huge; for example a first year Associate (i.e. post MBA) yearly full comp can vary from the equivalent of 130k USD in countries like France to 190k USD in Dubai (in this latter case tax-free!!).
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Note on 2020 salary figures
2019 was a good year for management consulting - The industry grew around 15% worldwide and consulting firms continued their battles among each other to recruit the best talents on the market. Also banking on the other hand increased significantly its entry salaries and therefore the top consulting companies had to raise as well their base pay especially for post MBAs to remain competitive on the market.
I am kicking off with an overview on the total compensation package for MBB:
Analyst after undergrad programs: up to $100 k
Associate / Consultant out of MBA (1st year): up to $210 k
Project Leader / Engagement Manager (3-4 years out of MBA): up to $ 300k
Principal / Associate principal (5-6 years out of MBA): up to $600 k
Partner (9+ years out of MBA): average full comp is c.a. $1 M (that can grow up to $5M)
I will now take a step more in the details, focusing on the compensation package role by role with a break down on its major components (Signing Bonus, Base salary, Relocation bonus and the performance end-year bonus)
Undergrad summer intern Salary as a summer intern, are pro-rated salary of analyst (1st year undergrad) without bonus and retirement contributions, so you can expect something around $14 k for a 10 weeks internship.
Signing Bonus: $5 k
Base salary: $80 k
Relocation bonus: $2-8 k
End-year bonus: up to $12 k (in BCG and McKinsey up to $18 k)
Total Comp: up to $105-110 k Retirement: 4.5% of base + bonus into 401k
MBA summer internship
As mentioned for the undergrad summer intern, also for MBAs the salary is a pro-rated version of a first year associate / consultant without bonus and retirement contributions, so you can expect $ 28-30 k for a 10 weeks internship.
Associate (First year out of MBA)
Signing Bonus: $25 k
Base salary: $140-150 k
Relocation bonus: $8 k
End-year bonus: up to $35 k (in BCG and McKinsey up to $40k)
Total Comp: up to $210 k
Retirement: up to $20 k into retirement fund
Engagement manager and Project leader
Base salary: $180-200 k
End-year bonus: up to $80 k for the first year up to $100 k for the second year (BCG here seems to have a small hedge vs Bain and Mckinsey)
Total Comp: up to $300 k
Associate principal / Principal
Base salary: $200-280 k
End-year bonus: up to $120 k for the first year and up to $280 k for the last year before the promotion to partner
Total Comp: $300-600 k (depending on performance but also on seniority since bonus grows year after year)
Base salary: $300-350 k
End-year bonus: here sky is the limit. There are several variables affecting partner bonuses (e.g. sales, office contribution, peer feedbacks, etc.) and eventually the end of year bonus can have a significant variability.
On average consider that a partner is making around $1 M full comp per year (again, with high variability)
If you found this article useful, check our range of services offered to help you get prepared for your next consulting interviews at this link! We already helped hundreds of candidates!!
PS: I also recommend you to check the following resources on management consulting that give interesting (and fun) insights on this job:
The first is a big classic - an irreverent view of the work of consultants: "Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time", both in book and TV Series version.
"Once upon a time Corporate America paid certain people huge fees to tell organizations what they were doing wrong. These men and women really knew next to nothing. They trashed businesses, destroyed careers, and wasted time and money. They called themselves Management Consultants. I know them well. I was one of them. Welcome to the... HOUSE OF LIES".
The second is a great book for those of you who want to get an introduction on what consulting really is through the lens of a legendary former consultant: "McKinsey's Marvin Bower"