Management Consulting Salary & Compensation, Average Bonus in Consulting

Manu Lakshmanan

Reviewed by

Manu Lakshmanan

Expertise: Management Consulting | Strategy & Operations


December 14, 2020

Below is an estimate of all-in consulting compensation progression. This list has been compiled with information from WSO, Quora, and more in order to present the most accurate figures possible. In addition to salary information, it contains expected years out of undergrad/MBA at each position.

  • Analyst (1-3 years out of undergrad): $65K - $100K
  • Associate (1-2 years out of MBA): $170K - $200K
  • Project Leader (3-4 years out of MBA): $200K - $230K
  • Associate Partner/Associate Principal (5-7 years out of MBA): $250K - $400K
  • Partner/Principal (8+ years out of MBA): $500K - $1M
  • Senior Partner/Director (10+ years out of MBA): $1M+

Below is a chart depicting average compensation from 122 consulting firms. Intern average compensation is based on the hourly rate x 2,000 to get the yearly approximation

If you would like to learn more about varying consulting firms and their ranking, check out the consulting industry report below! This report details everything from hardest interviewers to ranking competence of senior management!

Consulting Industry report

Management Consulting Compensation vs Finance Compensation

So how does management consultant compensation stack up against the finance industry? The short answer is that the consulting industry pays less than Wall Street - investment banking, private equity, venture capital, hedge funds, etc. Generally speaking, somebody in one of these industries will probably make around 20% more than someone at the same level in consulting. However, that pay difference is justified in a couple ways.

Investment bankers put in more hours than consultants do. The pay difference stems from, among other things, the more grueling lifestyle investment bankers lead. Unlike investment bankers, consultants get the weekends, and on some projects, you might work as little as 40 hours.

In both venture capital and private equity, hours are worse - albeit not by much - than consulting. The main difference is that lot of the compensation in private equity and venture capital is tied to performance. Someone at a poorly performing PE/VC firm might not make as much as someone on the same level in consulting, but someone at a well-performing firm would make far more than their consulting equals.

Hedge funds tend to have similar hours than consulting firms (although usually less by a margin), but the pay difference is still significant. Why? Similar to PE and VC, HF pay is deeply tied to the fund’s performance. Someone at a hedge fund that’s been thriving the past year will make far more than someone at the same level in consulting, especially at the higher levels. There are hedge fund portfolio managers who clear a billion dollars in a single year, a figure consulting partners wouldn’t dream of.

How Do Promotions Work?

In consulting, there’s a very typical path: start as an analyst, get an MBA to become an associate, and get a promotion every couple of years until the partner level. The partner level is possible within ten-fifteen years of getting an MBA. Keep in mind that this process doesn’t necessarily occur at one firm in its entirety.

It is possible, however, to get promoted to the associate level without getting an MBA. These promotions are reserved for the top performers, but most rock star consultants end up leaving the job after a couple of years anyway. It’s a high-stress lifestyle bound to high turnover.

Even among those who get a direct promotion, there are plenty who eventually get their MBA. Here’s @John-Doe8" explaining that thought process.

I've known a few people who get promoted to the post-MBA position, do that for a project or two, and THEN leave for the MBA. Their feeling is that promotion to the next stage without an MBA is very difficult; I haven't been in the room when they received this career advice from partners/career development personnel, but it's a pretty common worry. The "promotion clock" pauses when you leave for an MBA, but it DOESN'T reset. This means that if you do 1.5 years at a post-MBA position, then leave for an MBA, you have ~6 months to demonstrate your ability to work at the next level or you can found yourself counseled out. Obviously, there is an army of people warning you about this, so I don't think it really happens, but I've spoken about this from people going through the decision process.

Sponsored MBA

Many consulting firms, MBB (top consulting firms McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group) among them, will sponsor your MBA. This means that, upon your agreement to work for their firm for a certain period of time, they will help you pay for your MBA. There are a couple of stipulations to this:

  • Contractual commitment: As mentioned, you have to agree to work with the firm upon graduating. The period in which you are contractually obligated to work there is typically two years. You can get your MBA sponsored from a firm you worked with prior to your MBA (the far more common occurrence) or a firm you interned with during your MBA.
  • In rare cases, you are expected to work while getting your MBA. This also limits your choice of business schools by geography.
  • If your employer pays a certain amount, you might have to pay taxes on the tuition reimbursement if you fall into a certain tax bracket post-MBA.

Management Consulting Bonuses

For undergrads, no consulting firm is going to give out significant bonuses. There are three different types of bonuses:

  • Relocation Bonus: This is the bonus paid to employees who agree to relocate. In many cases, no relocation bonus is paid as the consultant already lives near the workplace. Relocation bonuses are based off distance: the farther one lives from the workplace, the greater the bonus.
  • Signing Bonus: This is the bonus paid upon signing with a firm. It can be given ahead of time or upon working with the firm. Here's @John-Doe8" on how signing bonuses are paid out:

    You are correct. You'll typically have your bonus paid out during the school year and have a choice whether to receive it gross or net of taxes. Net will probably make more sense from a tax situation.
  • Performance Bonus: This is the bonus paid based on performance. Top performers at MBB make up to $18k out of undergrad from performance bonus alone, while top performers at other firms make anywhere from $6k - $16k.

Management Consulting Salary by Location

Does compensation vary by country?

The short answer is a definite yes, although that status is not without its reasons. Management consultant salaries in the United States are higher than the rest of the world, including London. Even then, some prefer to work in consulting overseas. Here's @MadScientist", an accounting consultant, on why he prefers consulting in London over the United States.

MadScientist - Accounting Consultant:
It sounds like you have your mind made up, but I'll add a few additional points. BTW, I'm an American who's been living and working (not in consulting but looking to get into it) in London for nearly 5 years, and not looking to move back anytime soon.

I was told by an MBB guy at a recruiting event here in London in May that the work-life balance for consultants in London is better than in the U.S., and that it's better than banking in London, due to lower pay. He said that since they couldn't compete with banker pay, they compete on quality of life.

How Much Do Partners Make?

There are a couple of things that need to be understood before diving into how much a management consulting partner makes. First, not all partners stand equal. Some partners are classified as senior vice presidents, some as associate partners, some as directors, etc. Certain positions are more senior and hold more responsibility than others. That’s why it’s simpler to classify two types of partners: junior and senior.

Second, bonus forms the majority of compensation at the partner level. Here's @petergibbons", a private equity vice president, with some insight into the bonus structure for management consultants.

Petergibbons - Private Equity Vice President:
Base salary is a less meaningful statistic because your variable comp grows as you become more senior. A top Associate Principal can equal their salary with their bonus; an Associate is not going to do that.

Partner comp structure is highly variable firm by firm. There's a significant drop-off from MBB to Big 4. Senior partners at M take more of the pie than at BB, where comp is more evenly spread across the partnership.

Now to the juicy part, what do they make? Generally, junior partners pull in $500k - $800k.

Senior partners, all-in, make north of $1M. Rock star partners make far north of just $1M, it depends on the firm, level of responsibility, and what they bring to the table.

Here’s @Veracity", a consulting principal, regarding MBB pay at the partner level.

Veracity - Consulting Principal:
There is not a single partner in a developed economy at MBB who makes 500k or 600k. It would simply never happen. Roughly speaking, the junior guys make 1-3M, the senior guys make 2-4M. The most junior will cluster around a million (first couple years), and as you progress, a few guys will make a bit more than 4M, but not many at all.

This is a dramatic departure from big 4 consulting pay, so please don't try and equate the two as they are totally different businesses with different employees and charge much lower fees.

You’ll notice that the numbers cited in the quote above were vastly higher than the ones we cited. This is because our figures for partner compensation are compiled averages from all consulting firms, not just MBB. MBB compensation will almost always be higher, all else equal, than any other consulting firm.


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Manu Lakshmanan is a member of WSO Editorial Board which helps ensure the accuracy of content across top articles on Wall Street Oasis. Prior to accepting a position as the Director of Operations Strategy at DJO Global, Manu was a management consultant... This content was originally created by member John-Doe8 and has evolved with the help of our management consulting mentors.


Since when did Accenture start paying 75k for base? And which office is this for?... I assume NY and only that..

When I started there back in 2011 (not in US), I received the equivalent of USD52,000, which increased to 61K prior to promotion. Bonuses were approx 10% of salary. As far as I know, none of their Asian, European, ANZ offices pay 75k to start for undergrads...

The same applies to the Big4... Salaries quoted are unheard of for these firms...


Can confirm the $80k for NYC and SF from 3 friends who will be working there. I have another friend from high school.

For all the heat that Acn takes they seem to pay competitively. Probably a consequence of 1) building a formal Strategy/MC unit in the past couple years and 2) wanting to attract target school prospects to those groups who might initially be inclined to not respect Accenture.

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." --Abraham Lincoln

At post-MBA level, it seems like MCK and BCG have opened up a meaningful gap on Bain in terms of max total comp. If you include max relocation, max bonus, and retirement, I have McK at 230K, BCG at 228K and Bain at 208K.

Wonder if the numbers are right (does Bain really not offer relocation?). They might also be a bit misleading as I am sure that actual bonuses vary significantly underneath the max (maybe 10% of McK people get max, and 30% of Bain people do, just as a made-up example).

Assuming the numbers or not wrong/misleading, they definitely surprise me. Given how intense the competition for top talent is between MBB, I can't imagine Bain would want to lose candidates over a measly (to them) 20K. I can however see debt-loaded MBAs letting 20K tip them towards McK or BCG if they were otherwise on the fence. Anyone have any insight into what is going on here?

Also think what Deloitte continues to do with comp is very smart. I'm about to go to b-school, so I will have a better feel soon, but I think they have really established themselves as a clear and standalone #4 after MBB. Definitely think their above industry entry-level comp has something to do with that. I am not sure that alone will help them compete directly with MBB for talent, but they have succeeded in narrowing the gap.


McK 401k is 12% (not 11.5%) of Base AND Bonus, up to 170K, or $20,400 total.

No idea what first year comp for McK post MBA is, but using the numebrs in the link and the correct 401K value, I get:

25K signing + 145K base + 35K bonus + 20.4K retirement +9K relocation = 234.4.

Personally I feel including relocation is silly, as many won't get it. Which brings it to...

McK = 225K BCG = 223K Bain = 208K

Still a bit of a gap.


Deloitte post-MBA says "full tuition reimbursement paid out over two years"..... that is only for people who worked their pre-MBA with that agreement in place, correct? Or are they doing tuition reimbursement for new post-MBA hires?

They give 50% tuition reimbursement (e.g. 2nd year tuition reimbursement) for returning summer interns. It's paid out over two years, so you functionally get an extra $30k payment each year (in addition to your year end bonus) for your first two years.


Anyone know why consultants get paid way more in the US than any other region in the world? (after adjusting for exchange rates ofc)

You know you've been working too hard when you stop dreaming about bottles of champagne and hordes of naked women, and start dreaming about conditional formatting and circular references.

I think these numbers aren't 100% true to reality and probably vary depending on department (especially the big 4). I'm in NYC and recently made the jump to a sr. manager at a big 4 and I was quoted at the high end of the salary range (basically theyd have to bump me up in title if they moved my base any higher).

Those 1st year MBA numbers for the big 4 don't seem too accurate... Can't comment on the others, however.


I think these numbers aren't 100% true to reality and probably vary depending on department (especially the big 4). I'm in NYC and recently made the jump to a sr. manager at a big 4 and I was quoted at the high end of the salary range (basically theyd have to bump me up in title if they moved my base any higher).

Those 1st year MBA numbers for the big 4 don't seem too accurate... Can't comment on the others, however.

The numbers are completely accurate. Direct hires get paid less than MBA hires, for supply/demand and BATNA reasons. You're hired as a generalist pretty much everywhere (Strategy& being the only exception) out of BSchool, so likewise the department doesn't matter or even exist when it comes to hiring.


I'm on the strategy side and was hired from industry.... I also talked with current employees who are same level and above at other Big 4s who give conflicting numbers. Also went to a top 10 MBA program very recently and no numbers like this came up formally (reported to the school) nor informally (between friends) and we had placements at Deloitte, BCG, Mck, PwC, and Accenture....


This leap year, 2016, is exciting on many fronts. The year promises the world’s first space hotel, NASA’s Juno spacecraft arriving at Jupiter, soccer’s Euro 2016 in France and the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the US Presidential Elections (aka circus) and much more. Along with all the excitement, this new year guarantees new business challenges and with that, a steady demand for consulting services.

Over the past couple years, we’ve witnessed a significant increase in demand for consulting services. In 2015, consulting firms experienced an overall 12-18% increase in revenue. With the increasing demand of their services, consulting firms have continued the dogfight to attract more top-notch candidates.


Triple-offeree for the post-MBA position at MBB. The numbers are accurate but with a couple tweaks:

1) BCG relocation goes higher than $5000 (even within the U.S.). I don't know if mine is the max, but it is higher than $5k. 2) Bain's profit sharing component is left out of these calculations. 3) Bain had been re-evaluating a bump to $145k base, but apparently it didn't happen (when I declined Bain, they were still finalizing compensation figures).

There are a ton of ancillary benefits (low-interest home loans, fully subsidized health care options, etc.) that are understandably left out of the numbers here. But these numbers are accurate.


As a general rule of thumb, you will not receive a performance bonus until you're a 2nd year Consultant at Deloitte.

However, the firm has been giving more one-time merit bonuses since I joined a few years ago. Personally, I received bonuses for my first two years, since I was staffed on particularly intense engagements (1k one year, 2.5k the second). This is pretty rare at the analyst level, but it does happen (out of my, say 50 closest analyst friends, I only know two others who also had this happen).


Does anyone have insight into salaries at Deloitte Human Capital (commercial side) for advanced degrees/MBAs? I know it is lower than S&O, but how much so? Is it as regimented as it is at S&O, or is there flexibility?

I also have other questions about HC from MBA, so if anyone has insight, would love to get in touch with you.


A good business or management consultant takes the time to learn as much as possible about the business, from the owner and employees. This can include touring the facility, meeting with the board of directors and employees, analyzing the finances and reading all company materials.


Great question! The answer is "definitely not".

MBB basically pays near / at top of market for each country. That means that in the USA, $80K for undergrads is pretty good but not ridiculous. At the other end of the scale, in somewhere like India, you might get paid $20K base as an undergrad...

Pay gets more standardized as you get more senior, though. At the Partner level, everyone is supposed to make about the same compensation.


I may be able to help a little with regard to Big 4 u/g.

It's not technically MC/Strategy, but I know KPMG Deal Advisory is 69,000 base, 5,000 signing, and then also 5,000 for CPA bonus. Not aware of any relocation. And also can't speak for performance based comp. I believe there may be some but definitely not large. All the advisory functions are pretty much about the same I believe.

Also, these numbers are not for undergrad per se, but he was hired after doing a 5 year MAcc. But I don't think that holds much more value than a bachelors degree. And also, Deal Advisory is required to be CPA eligible, but MC is not. Therefore most of them will not get the extra 5K.

And for Strategy specifically, I dont know the numbers, but I would have to guess they would be higher than regular Advisory.


Does anyone have any insight as to why Parthenon-EY's base salary is higher than average? For example, it's undergrad base is 90k while other firms are in the mid 70k region


My conjecture: Parthenon used to be able to pay out big bonuses when it wanted to since it was previously a boutique. Now that they are part of E&Y, to pay out the same comp packages to talent they have rearranged the comp structure so that bonuses are small (but in line with the rest of the accounting firm ~5-10%) and base is large.

Best Response

A friend of mine got an offer recently from McK and shared his offer with me. Here are the relevant details for the 2017 recruiting class.

Base: $152,500 Bonus: up to $35,000 Total cash (sum of above): up to $187,500 Retirement Contribution: 7% of qualified compensation (capped at $170,000) expected to increase to 12% after December 2018. Up to $11,900. Signing bonus: $25,000

UPDATED 11/15/2016 2017 BCG recruiting class offer Base: $147,000 Bonus: up to $44,100 Total cash (sum of above) $191,100 Retirement Contribution: up to $9,555 Signing bonus: $30,000


For those interested - a recent offer from Huron Consulting Group:

Signing Bonus: $5,000 Base: $67,500 Relocation: $2,500 Performance Bonus: up to $6,700 (10% of base) Travel Bonus: up to $3,750 (*will almost certainly be $3,000 for an analyst, so that's what I'm using for the total below) – – – – – Assuming you take advantage of matching benefits, which you're dumb not to since it's free money: Retirement: $4,020 (Match 6% of base for 401k) Stock: $5,000 (Match 25% of personal investment in Huron stock, up to $20,000) – – – – – Total Compensation w/o match: up to $84,700 Total Compensation with match: up to $93,720


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Career Advancement Opportunities

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