Consulting Firm Hierarchy + Questions

Hi all,

Was wondering where I can find more information on the following:

  • What's the Consultancy Hierarchy like? (I am aware of IBD hierarchy but not sure how it compares).

  • Leading back to the above, I'm confused what the Business Analyst does. I did look into some grad schemes to try understand but these shed no light on structure. Remain unsure if the analyst just supports (and then progresses to a more responsible, lead role i.e. Analyst -> Associate in IBD) or if it's different than aforementioned.

  • What is available in terms of career progression internally in the consulting field (And how long between roles), & externally, what exit opportunities are there? I've seen it is just in-house consulting but was wondering if people tend to even move over to PE/HF from Consulting - or if it's more popular from PE/HF -> Consulting.

  • Very simple one to end things off but - is entry-level consulting, management consulting, or is this varied between firms i.e. MBB it is, but perhaps at Big 4 not always the case. Would love some light shed on this please.

If there are any websites ideally would be great if you can share for some further reading.

Thanks all.

Most Helpful
  • Consultancy Hierarchy

    • McKinsey: Business Analyst > Associate > Engagement Manager > Associate Principal (or Associate Partner, can't recall) > Partner

    • BCG: Associate or Senior Associate [for experienced hires> Consultant > Project Leader > Principal > Partner 

    • Bain: Associate Consultant > Senior Associate Consultant > Consultant > Manager > Senior Manager > Associate Partner > Partner

      • We have a more granular trajectory, but note that for example McKinsey has Senior and Junior versions of many roles above

      • And think

        • BA = A = AC (most junior role, post UG or little work experience)

        • A = C = C (classic consultant role, post-MBA or 8+ y of exp. in the UK)

        • EM = PL = M/SM (for confirmed project managers overseeing entire teams) [updated]

  • Business Analyst / Associate / Associate Consultant role

    • Basically you are in charge of a lot of data collecting, data cleaning, researching, modelling, and occasionally (depending on experience, steer, and PD opportunities) slide/output production and insight generation

    • Generally, your supervisor will do most of the "thinking" in addition to supervising you and also doing a lot of the work themselves, but as you learn on the job, you'll be entrusted with more and more significant bits of work

    • McK BAs have more responsibilities from the start, esp. vs. Bain, where they're expected to own workstreams from the start and report into an EM, whereas at Bain an AC will be more "pure analyst" so to speak, and more often report into an SAC or C [updated]

  • Career progression + Exits

    • Here the progression looks like:

      • AC (1-2y, depending on geo) > SAC (1y) > C (2y) > M (1y> SM (2-3y) > AP (2-3y) > Partner

    • Exits tend to be to corporate roles in Corp Dev / Corp Strategy, etc., many leave for PE or startups too, and finally some people choose to become entrepreneurs or go the non-profit route

    • Don't think anyone does PE / HF full-time and then comes to us. I don't think it's impossible, but it would be a massive step down in income

  • Entry-level consulting

    • At MBB we (almost) only do strategy consulting, although we also now started doing some implementation / follow-on work, but that segment is dominated by the Big 4

    • Other strat consulting firms (esp. good at the PE stuff) are LEK, EYP, Monitor, S&, or in Europe the likes of Roland Berger, Simon Kucher, OC&C in the UK


Wow, smashed my question out the park.

Thanks for the help man.

If you don't mind me asking what sort of comp ranges are there between each range? Not for each MBB you just mentioned of course, rather just generally to get an understanding.



I have been compiling those figures quite actively because I hate the "hide & seek" approach to salaries, especially since you can find out within 3 months of joining.

From your post history, I'll wager you are in the UK (otherwise let me know, I have the US figures too), in that case here is the below for London. Confidence level in % in [xx%] and figures are in GBP for 2023.

BTW, if my BCG and McKinsey current counterparts want to chime in to correct their figures, please do so. I genuinely believe this should all be public information to begin with.

And for folks from the US already preparing to "lament" at the "low" salaries in the UK, remember that (i) the exchange rate would add ~20-25% to the below, (ii) we have a more heavily subsidised healthcare system here, and (iii) this does not account for the pension contributions made by firms on our behalf, which is ~9%. Doesn't fully balance it out, but I just want to point out that this is a very different system.


  • [95-100%] Associate Consultant - 52k+7k
  • [95-100%] Senior Associate Consultant - 69k+12k
  • [95-100%] Consultant - 103k+23k
  • [95-100%] Manager - 110k+39k
  • [95-100%] Senior Manager - 125k+56k
  • [95-100%] Associate Partner - 152k+91k


  • [95-100%] Associate - 55k
  • [90-95%] Senior Associate - 75k+15k [think this is for experienced hires only, TBC]
  • [90-95%] Consultant - 100k+20k
  • [80-90%] Project Leader - 130-140k
  • [70-80%] Principal - 160k

McKinsey (>See StraCo comment below for actuals)

  • [95-100%] Business Analyst - 48k
  • [90-95%] Junior Associate - 75k [think this is for experienced hires only, TBC]
  • [85-90%] Associate - ~100-110k
  • [75-85%] Engagement Manager - ~125-130k
  • [60-70%] Associate Partner - ~150-160k

The real litmus test on these seniority equivalence question sits in the salary (the companies are smart enough to not overpay and people are smart enough to not be underpaid for the same role.

Using your data plus Stratcos data it would make more sense to say Bain Manager = McKinsey EM, Bain Senior Manager = McKinsey Associate Partner, and Bain Associate Partner = McKinsey (Junior) Partner

I’ve been working with teams from all three MBB recently and this does align with my experience, and there’s clear title inflation going on everywhere. I’m bothered about it as it’s much more difficult to procure services properly and we’re getting much too inexperienced teams despite a bunch of fancy titles which is hugely frustrating


I'm afraid this doesn't work because per diems have little correlation with salaries. McKinsey salaries are very top heavy relative to BB; SPs at McKinsey earn multiples of their counterparts from BB (and hence salaries at lower levels at McKinsey are slightly lower).

This is despite the fact that McKinsey per diems are on average higher than BB (even for junior staff). Broadly engagement fees will be aligned though because McKinsey teams are smaller (average is probably Partner + 3 for a typical strategy piece). BB is closer to Partner + 5 (Bain is slightly larger than BCG).


The best litmus test is therefore not salary (you are actually comparing per diems which is different), because salaries are skewed by firm decisions as well as differences in seniority. To illustrate: McK has slightly fewer levels, which means the average AP is younger than equivalents and so McK can afford to pay them less.

The best point of comparison is role and responsibility. Fundamentally all 3 firms do very similar work and this work needs to be divided up across the hierarchy. Understanding how it is divided up and who does what helps us compare the roles. We can then overlay age/ salary etc on top of this to understand the pros and cons for a hypothetical person considering all 3 offers.


BCG in the US doesnt have a senior associate role for promo unless you come in as experienced hire - its Associate -> Consultant (2 years) and on ward 


I can speak to McKinsey:Timelines:McKinsey promo timelines are slightly faster. Typically 2 years as a BA, 0.5-1yr SA (JAs are all experienced hires/ certain postgrads), EM 2-3yrs, AP 2-3yrs, P (XX yrs), SP.In the US, and certain other geos, BAs may skip SA and move directly to the EM designation, and become managers 2-3 years out of undergrad.Model philosophy:Designation changes depend on performance and 'pull'. I.e., are teams willing to pay the higher per diem rate to staff you. >This integrates into the Firm's model; everywhere is incredibly hierarchical with the sole exception of the team room during problem solving. If a SP likes you and is willing to move mountains for you, the world is your oyster. >BCG seem to be moving to a similar model.It is not unheard of to see partners who are a couple years shy of 30. They are inevitably rockstars. I remember reading about one who made partner at 27 in the US.Roles:A BA is expected to drive thinking on their workstream, "owning" this workstream end to end. This may involve holding the pen on the financial model, scheduling and conducting expert interviews, building and maintaining relationships with client counterparts and synthesising insights into slides. Workstreams are coordinated by the EM much like a conductor of an orchestra. The role of the AP/P/SP is to test insights and pressure check as well as to socialise implications with the C-suite to manage expectations. Invariably this tends to be quite political.

Apologies my phone screws up formatting


I’m an incoming BA at Mck in the US. Is the expectations for BA same in the US? I’m worried because I have no idea how to do anything to be honest I didn’t have a consulting internship in undergrad so to be expected to own a workstream completely sounds daunting.


Is an mba still valuable/necessary in moving up the chain? I understand that MBB still sponsors some for it but have heard that is becoming less common and perhaps less necessary.


I don't believe so, but will wait for other input to confirm / deny.


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