Management Consultant Salary-Here's A Market Report for 2021

management-consultant-salary
Erica Suesserman
Erica Suesserman

ex-BCG Recruiter

It’s no secret that one of the things that draws lots of college seniors and MBA students to the management consulting field is the high salaries and year-end bonuses. But what does a typical management consulting salary look like?

We’ve surveyed recent hires by firms like Bain, BCG, McKinsey, Accenture, and Deloitte and can tell you.

In this article, we’ll provide:

  • An overview of management consulting salaries in 2021,
  • Management consultant salaries for undergraduate and Master’s degree full-time hires,
  • Management consulting salaries for MBA degree & Ph.D full-time hires,
  • How to compare management consultant salary packages to other offers, and
  • The trajectory in management consulting careers.

Let’s get started!

Overview of Management Consultant Salary Packages

What should you actually think about when you are considering a management consultant salary package?

A management consultant compensation package includes:

  • A base salary,
  • A (one-time) sign-on bonus,
  • An annual performance bonus, and
  • A (one-time) relocation payment (depending on company policy and circumstances).

The first thing to note is that a management consultant salary is typically non-negotiable at the base salary level. If you’re going into an offer with the hopes of negotiating an additional few thousand dollars, think again. Most firms, especially top strategy firms, want to keep salaries at a consistent starting level for an incoming cohort. The compensation tiers for management consultant salaries are not flexible.

For some firms, these compensation tiers are the same across all offices in a region. (Ex: the BCG consultant salary for someone in Atlanta will be the same as the salary for a BCG consultant in New York). Because of this, it’s important to consider your office preferences and your cost of living.

Other firms, like PwC for example, have a pay scale that varies by office. An Associate in PwC’s Atlanta office would have a slightly lower salary than an Associate in New York because of New York’s higher cost of living.

The consulting firms typically don’t even talk about salaries until their first offer letters are sent out. Once they are sent out, however, Bain, BCG, and McKinsey sometimes “update” starting salaries based on the salaries offered by other firms within this group of consulting firms. These “updates” are not always made, however.

[EXCLUSIVE FREE TRAINING]

Nail the case & fit interview with strategies from former MBB Interviewers that have helped 85% of our clients pass the case interview.

Experienced Hire Salaries

Experienced hires have wiggle room to negotiate the amount of their sign-on bonus or relocation payment if they have a good reason (e.g., a candidate moving a family rather than just themselves).

But experienced hires shouldn’t have the expectation that they’ll be able to negotiate a substantial increase in their offer. Top consulting firms know they have strong reputations and that many people want to work for them.

As an experienced hire coming in with several years of relevant experience, your best shot is to try to negotiate the level at which you enter the firm. Coming it at a higher level would get you a higher base salary and sign-on bonus. In the end, though, the consulting firms’ compensation packages are pretty set.

Affect of COVID on Management Consulting Salaries

A lot of people wonder how COVID has affected consulting compensation. This varies by firm, but most top tier consulting firms have been able to keep staff salaries the same, with partners taking the greatest hit to their compensation.

Some firms have increased base salaries and performance bonuses as a way to incentivise staff to stay. (See this article about PwC for one example.) On the other hand, some firms have had to make pay cuts which have left their staff feeling under-appreciated. These cuts have been paid back in some cases. (See this article on Deloitte as an example.)

In the tables below, we provide a basic overview of what a management consultant compensation packages look like. First, we’ll cover management consultant salaries for undergraduate and Master’s degree candidates. After that, we’ll cover management consultant salaries for MBA and Ph.D hires.

The focus of our consultant salary research was the North American market.

Management Consultant Salary Packages: Undergraduate and Master’s Degree Full-Time Hires

McKinsey, Bain, & BCG Consultant Salaries

FirmBase salaryPerfomance bonusTotal CashSigning bonusRetirementPTORelocation
McKinsey Business Analyst Salary$100,000up to $30,000up to $120,000$5,00019up to $10,000
Bain & Company Associate Consultant Salary$90,000up to $22,500up to $112,500$5,0004.5% of base + bonus into 401k20up to $5,000
BCG Associate Salary$100,000up to $18,000up to $108,000$5,000profit sharing 5% into 401k, Immediately vested.15up to $8,000

Tier 2 & Big 4 Consultant Salaries

FirmBase salaryPerfomance bonusTotal CashSigning bonusRetirementPTORelocation
Accenture Undergraduate & Masters Consultant Salary$79,500$10,0006% match 20 days
Deloitte Undergrad & Masters Consultant Salary$80-105,000 up to $20,000up to $125,000up to $15,000 150% match for individual contributions
PwC Undergrad & Masters Consultant Salary$75,000up to 20%up to $90,000up to $5,00025% match up to 6% in 401k, + Wealth Builder contribution 15 days
Strategy& Undergrad & Masters Consultant Salary$85,00020%up to $102,000up to $5,00025% match up to 6% in 401k, + Wealth Builder contribution 22 days
Ernst & Young Undergrad & Masters Consultant Salary$72,500up to $5,00025% match up to 6% in 401Kunlimited up to $2,000
EY- Parthenon Undergrad & Masters Consultant Salary$90,000up to $9,000up to $99,000up to $10,000unlimited up to $2,000
KPMG Undergrad & Masters Consultant Salary$74,0002-10%up to $81,400up to $5,000
Monitor Deloitte Undergrad & Masters Consultant Salary$72,000up to $15,000up to $87,00022 daysup to $4,000

Boutique Strategy Firm Consultant Salaries

FirmBase salaryPerfomance bonusTotal CashSigning bonusRetirementPTORelocation
L.E.K. Undergraduatte & Masters Consultant Salary$80,000up to $3,000up to $83,000$15,00015 days$2,500
Oliver Wyman Undergraduate & Masters Consultant Salary$87,000up to $10,000up to $97,000$10,0003% match17 days

Management Consultant Salary Packages: MBA Full-Time Hires & Ph.D.’s

McKinsey, Bain, & BCG Consultant Salaries

FirmBase salaryPerfomance bonusTotal CashSigning bonusRetirementPTORelocation
McKinsey Associate Salary$165,000up to $35,000up to $200,000$30,0007.5% into 401k19up to $10,000
Bain & Company Consultant Salary$165,000up to $41,250up to $206,250$30,000401k contribution up to $8,00025up to $8,000
BCG Consultant Salary$165,000up to $41,250up to $206,250$30,00010% Profit sharing into 401k PL and above.15up to $8,000

Tier 2 & Big 4 Consultant Salaries

FirmBase salaryPerfomance bonusTotal CashSigning bonusRetirementPTORelocation
Accenture MBA & Ph.D. Consultant Salary$155,000up to $30,000up to $185,000up to $5,0006% match for 401k21 days up to $10,000
Deloitte MBA & Ph.D. Consultant Salary$150,000up to 20%up to $180,000up to $20,00025% match of first 6% into 401k25 days up to $5,000
PwC MBA & Ph.D. Consultant Salary$150,000up to 20%up to $180,000up to $30,00025% match of 6% in 401k, + Wealth Builder contribution 22 days up to $30,000
Strategy& MBA & Ph.D. Consultant Salary$168,00014-33%up to $223,440up to $30,00025% match of 6% in 401k, + Wealth Builder contribution 22 days up to $30,000
Ernst & Young MBA & Ph.D. Consultant Salary$155,000up to $15,500up to $170,000up to $30,000match up to 6% in 401Kunlimited up to $30,000
EY- Parthenon MBA & Ph.D. Consultant Salary$170,000up to 34%up to $227,800up to $35,00025% match up to 6% in 401Kunlimited up to $35,000
KPMG MBA & Ph.D. Consultant Salary$145,000up to $17,400up to $162,400up to $35,000Match 50% of 5% in 401K + pension contribution20 days up to $35,000

Boutique Strategy Firm Consultant Salaries

FirmBase salaryPerfomance bonusTotal CashSigning bonusRetirementPTORelocation
L.E.K. MBA & Ph.D. Consultant Salary$165,000up to $25,000up to $190,000up to $25,000up to 5% match for 401k, profit sharing max 38K15 days
Oliver Wyman MBA & Ph.D. Consultant Salary$160,000up to $32,000up to $192,000up to $45,000up to 3.5% match for 401K at start of 2nd year17 days

How to Compare Management Consultant Salary Packages to Other Offers

If you receive multiple offers from top tier consulting firms, then you’ll need to know how to compare one against one another.

When you’re comparing consultant salary packages, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Location of offer
  • Base salary
  • Performance bonus structure
  • Sign-on bonus
  • Pay-back timing
  • Financial support for educational opportunities

Management Consulting Salary Variance by Office

As described above, some firms vary in their base salaries by office. It’s important for you to know which firms do this and which have one salary for a level across a region.

Typically, a Bain consultant salary, BCG consultant salary, and McKinsey associate salary will be the same regardless of what office you are hired by. They vary only based on the level you are hired at (e.g., analyst, consultant, engagement manager). Tier 2 and Big 4 firms, such as PwC, EY, and Deloitte, vary compensation packages based on the cost of living in different offices as well as on the level of the employee.

Performance Bonuses

In addition to a base salary, you’ll also be offered a substantial performance bonus. This performance bonus will vary based on a lot of factors though, most of which you can control and some of which you can’t (like overall demand for consulting services). 

So don’t let a large number sway you without digging into that number. You have to take into consideration your first year learning curve, the state of the business, and the way that the specific firm calculates their performance bonuses.

An important thing to ask the team/firm after you’ve received an offer is what is factored into a performance bonus. Performance bonuses can be based on:

  • Strictly your own personal performance,
  • The amount of business the firm sells,
  • And even peer feedback.

How performance bonuses are calculated varies from firm to firm, so if you have competing offers, it’s important for you to note these things so you know what to expect at the end of your first year.

If your performance bonus is based on the profitability of the firm, you should also ask how many consultants are “on the beach” or not currently staffed on a client engagement. Find out if that will affect your performance bonus.

Typically, recruiting teams are pretty good at hiring based on business needs, but no one can predict the state of business exactly – especially during COVID. Performance bonuses are a large portion of the overall management consulting compensation package, so it’s important to take them into consideration when you receive an offer.

Performance Brackets

Another important thing to take into account is what percentage of consultants at the firm make the top tier of their performance bracket. For example, let’s say you receive an offer, and it’s mentioned in your offer letter that you can earn up to a 60% performance bonus. Sign me up, right??

Not just yet… A good question to ask is how many people actually achieve that top tier of the performance bonus structure. If only 3% of a 100-person practice hits that top tier mark, then only 3 people will get that performance bonus.

What type of bonus do the rest of the staff receive? It’s good to ask for and consider those statistics before assuming you will be in the top tier of a performance bonus payout.

When Are You Eligible for Performance Bonuses?

You’ll also want to ask if you’re eligible for bonuses right away. 

For example, some firms pay bonuses at the end of their fiscal year instead of the calendar year. Let’s say you are hired in August, but the performance bonus pay out is in September. You’ll have to wait an entire year to be eligible for a performance bonus! If you’re aware of this, it can be an excellent way to negotiate a sign-on bonus.

Sign-on Bonuses

Sign-on bonuses are another important thing to consider when comparing compensation packages. This is where candidates find they have the most leverage when negotiating. It’s rare to be able to negotiate a base salary, but firms are more flexible with a one time sign-on bonus, especially if a candidate has other offers on the table.

Some points that can help you increase your sign-on bonus include:

  • You missed most of the fiscal year and won’t get to participate in a performance bonus.
  • You have other offers on the table with a higher base.
  • You’re not getting a relocation payout and you have to move cross-country.

Payback Policies for Sign-on Bonuses

It’s important to note that some firms have payback policies on their sign-on bonuses. Consulting firms offer high pay packages to get high-performing candidates to work for them, but they also want to keep the candidates long enough to re-coup the costs of hiring and training them. You might have to payback a percentage of your sign-on bonus or even the full amount if you leave the firm before the specified length of time.

It doesn’t look good to ask about the payback policy since it makes you look like you’re thinking of leaving after a relatively short period of time. But the length of the payback period should be detailed in your offer letter. Read the offer letter carefully.

Financial Support for Education

In addition, firms also offer a plethora of educational support and payback programs. If you are interested in getting a Master’s of Business Administration or another degree, then this is another great opportunity to consider when comparing management consulting salaries.

McKinsey, Bain, and BCG will pay for undergraduate hires who perform well to attend business school. In return, the consultants have to come back to the firm and work for them for 2 years after completing their MBA (or payback the cost of the degree like with the sign-on bonus).

Management Consultant Salary - how much do they earn?

Other Benefits

Management consulting firms also provide other benefits. Although the salary is important, consider the effect other benefits like health insurance and paid time off will have on your costs, your career, and overall your happiness.

Trajectory of a Management Consultant Career

Career Trajectory at Bain, BCG, and McKinsey

The trajectory of a management consulting career at top firms like Bain, BCG, and McKinsey can be pretty predictable, though promotions do vary a bit based on performance. You may get promoted faster if you come in with experience and your performance is exceptional.

BCG-Consultant-Career-Progression

For example, at BCG you can expect to spend 2 years in the associate role. Top performers can spend another year as an associate and then get promoted to consultant without attending business school. But most associates leave the firm after 2 years to get an MBA or another advanced degree.

For incoming consultants, it takes about 2 years before you’re promoted to project leader, and 2 years before you’re promoted to principal.

Once you make principal, it takes about 4 years to make partner. This time depends on performance and getting the partner votes needed for this promotion.

Bain-Consultant-Career-Progression

Bain-Consultant-Career-Progression

The titles for different positions vary by firm, but each firm has a predictable promotion track. These timelines also hold for specialist roles like McKinsey Implementation or Operations as well.

In recent years, Bain and McKinsey have increased the number of undergraduate hires promoted directly to the next role without attending business school. This used to be very rare but nowthere are a few outstanding performers in each class who are promoted directly to the next role.

With these predictable promotions, you will receive substantial increases in your base salary in the future. As you are promoted, your performance bonus will have an enormous effect on your compensation and whether you want to stay in consulting, take a position with a client, or move to another career entirely.

Career Trajectory at Tier 2 and Big 4 Consulting Firms

For Tier 2 and Big 4 consulting firms, especially those with varying cohort levels and compensation by office, promotional tracks vary more by individual. Ask about what the promotional track looks like year by year, and to what degree it is based on performance vs. tenure.

Up or Out Policies

Consulting firms have “up or out” policies. You can’t come in as a business analyst and stay on as a business analyst for years because you like that type of work and are good at it. You must earn and take promotions or leave the firm.

This means that you will need to learn to manage other people, then manage a team and then multiple teams. As a partner, you will also be expected to sell consulting work.

Don’t be alarmed though; top consulting firms provide immense amounts of support to ensure that all consultants have the tools they need in order to be successful. People have time to demonstrate improved performance.

Not everyone who leaves consulting firms does so because they could not earn a promotion. Many consultants want to own business results for the long-term rather than coming in for a short project and then moving on to another client or industry. Some decide that they would prefer to use the problem-solving skills they’ve developed in consulting to work in private equity or other industries.

The knowledge and skills you build during a consulting career will be beneficial in whatever career you decide to pursue.

 

In this article we have discussed:

  • An overview of management consulting salaries in 2021,
  • Management consultant salaries for undergraduate and Master’s degree full-time hires,
  • Management consulting salaries for MBA degree & Ph.D full-time hires,
  • How to compare management consultant salary packages to other offers, and
  • What your career trajectory can look like as a management consultant.

Still have questions?

If you have more questions about management consulting salaries, leave them in the comments below. One of My Consulting Offer’s recruiters will answer them.

Other people interested in the typical management consultant salary also found the following pages helpful:

Help with Consulting Interview Prep

Thanks for turning to My Consulting Offer for information on management consulting salaries. My Consulting Offer has helped almost 85% of the people we’ve worked with to get a job in management consulting. We want you to be successful in your consulting interviews too. For example, here is how Meghna was able to get her offer from McKinsey.

[EXCLUSIVE FREE TRAINING]

Nail the case & fit interview with strategies from former MBB Interviewers that have helped 85% of our clients pass the case interview.

Leave a Comment