Hours in MBB/Big 4 Consulting


I made a thread earlier in the week, and gained a lot of great info. Repeating my background a bit for those who didn't read that initial thread:

  • I graduated in May 2015.
  • Since then, I've been traveling and teaching, and have just accepted an offer for Deloitte's BTA Program starting this Feb.
  • Since I was young, I'd wanted to pursue medicine.
  • In Undergrad, I studied Biology, loved it, and was all set to apply to Medical School.
  • I come from a blue collar family, no background in either medicine or consulting.

Should I Pursue a Career in Consulting?

During a BTA presentation, I saw the potential for a career in consulting. My two greatest driving factors are lifestyle and financial stability. I definitely want to have kids, and be there to raise them! However, having gone through financial hardship growing up, it's just become a part of my psyche to always aspire towards being financially secure.

So this brings me to my question. Would consulting offer me a better lifestyle than medicine?

Typical Consulting Hours

Typical consulting hours vary by firm, project, boss and city. A McKinsey consultant may work more hours than someone in a Tier 2 consulting firm, for example. In general, most WSO community members report a fairly positive work/life balance, albeit with lots of travel. Here are a few sample schedules.

From Certified Consulting Professional @devildog2067"

I almost never work weekends unless I choose to (i.e., if the end of the week got busy, instead of working till 11pm on Friday I go home at 4pm and do some work on Saturday). That seems pretty consistent with the experience of others I've known. I average right at 60 hours/week with occasional spikes to 80.

From @robobaggio"

One thing to specify is whether the above estimates include or exclude travel. I can confirm a 58 to 65 hours per week average at my MBB, but that does not include travel which can add about 10 hours. This matters more to some people (say with small children) than others. It's also worth noting that some cities have incredibly easy airport access (think Boston vs New York) and the difference can really add up over the course of a project.

From Certified Corporate Strategy Professional @pr4mence"

Typical work week feels like:

  • Monday: Wake up at 6am to catch 8am flight (floatplane/helicopter) to client. Arrive at office around 9am, work until 7pm.
  • Tues-Wed: 8:30am-7pm, dinner/gym, then answer emails/random stuff until 10pm
  • Thurs: 830am-4:30pm, hope on flight back to home office, get home around 6pm, answer emails etc. until 8pm
  • Fri: 9am-5/6pm, generally super casual
  • Rarely any weekends, maybe 5 hours total (Sat+Sun) if needed

Works out to be 50-60hrs/week. Have had some late nights, but those are usually once or twice a month.

What Are the Exit Opportunities for a Consultant?

In general, exit opportunities for any consulting gig are fairly solid, especially from MBB or any of the Tier 2 firms. The WSO post on Why Consulting? Contains more details on potential exit opps, but here are some common post-consulting roles:

  • Mid-management or executive position in industry of focus
  • Analyst/manager positions at F500 companies
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Graduate studies
  • Lateral move into a boutique firm

Related Reading

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Comments (67)

Nov 19, 2015 - 10:02pm

I certainly cannot speak for the medical profession. All I can offer is that I am in Big 4 consulting now and that work-life balance, in my experience, is very positive. My current team tends to work longer hours during the week (12-14 hour days) when we travel; however, on Friday's we're done by 5:00 and we generally have all of our weekends to our significant others, families, etc.

To me it seems like consulting offers you the slightly better lifestyle. My only caution is that depending on the type of consulting you pursue, you may be expected to travel nearly 100% of the time, and that will undoubtedly reduce your time with your future children. My current senior manager has two kids at home under the age of 3, and he's starting to wish he was around for those "critical moments." It isn't easy for his wife either, as she has to be disciplinarian 100% of the time, while he's the hero on weekends.

Anyway, bottom line is if you're looking for work-life balance with strong financial upside, consulting seems to be your best route. Just make sure you won't regret not pursuing something that sounds like it has been a longtime dream. My calling in life is developing analytics and slide decks for mid-level managers – somehow that suits me. Yours could be bettering the lives of children. I suppose just try to be sure how you want to make your impact in this world. Good luck!

"Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter."
  • 1
Nov 20, 2015 - 1:37am

There's a good chance that you'll be done with consulting before kids come into the picture. You're 22 now, and without knowing you I'd assume you've got 6 years before kids. If the travel and lifestyle of consulting 6 years into your career isn't conducive to your vision of family/work balance, you'll be seasoned enough in your career to be able to exit to a nice industry gig with plenty of money and ability to be with the family.

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Nov 20, 2015 - 10:41pm

MBB Working Hours (Originally Posted: 05/18/2014)


Curious whether anyone with any experience can weigh in on the work hours of MBB. I know about the travel and long weekdays, but I keep hearing that it is unusual to work weekends. To be honest, that sort of sounds like BS, but I'm curious whether anyone can confirm. I'm currently a finance lawyer at one of the national firms, and I'm thinking about moving towards consulting (really, I'm just a very specialised consultant now). Not working weekends would mean, even after travel time, I would see more of the family than I do now.

I'm focusing on MBB, I'm sure the boutiques each have different work hours and the variability would be huge.


Nov 20, 2015 - 10:55pm

Consulting Hours? (Originally Posted: 08/09/2013)

What are the typical hours in consulting? I've read some posts here that you work 16 hour work days and I've read in the vault guide that yo work 10-12 work days. I know that the hours vary from firm to firm, but, generally, is 10-12 hrs or 16 hrs more in line with the "standard" consulting hours?

Nov 20, 2015 - 11:17pm

Institutional Consulting - Career Path, Exit Opps, Hours/Comp? (Originally Posted: 06/05/2012)

The position will mostly be doing research on money managers and their investment strategies and performance reporting.

The group is at mid size city's BB branch with $5B AUM

Can anyone who took this career path provide some insight? I'm not interested in IBD/PE so cross that out

Nov 20, 2015 - 11:35pm

Interned there for 4 months and worked on mainly 2 detailed valuation projects in Germany. Towards the deadline hours got long (however, I was sometimes being told "you're only an intern, you don't have to work that long... yadda, yadda" from one responsible senior manager on one of the projects) and had to stay until 11pm a couple of times. But in general, I'd say I had to work maybe 50 hours per week (I often stayed longer and did additional research or just got further into all the WACC-/multiple-/DCF-models or Bloomberg to learn), with that being roughly the average hours/week for the majority of employees and nobody working on the weekends. Usually, the higher the rank, the longer the hours.

Nov 20, 2015 - 11:37pm

Working Hours - Normal working time per week at MBB? (Originally Posted: 07/20/2009)

Hey all,

what is the "normal" working time per week at M/B/B. When does work begin and when does it end? Also, how often is work on the weekend required (once out of X)?
When talking about working time please also include travel and lunch. So the numbers are comparable.
I am aware that working hours are heavily dependent on the project, but I just would like to have some sort of average.


Nov 20, 2015 - 11:38pm

In my MBB office, the average hours were displayed on a billboard. It was 65-70. Being staffed abroad is the worst as for the hours, since you basically just sleep in a hotel and work the rest of the time.

However, hours vary depending on the office, as some of them face tougher competition from the other firms.

Nov 20, 2015 - 11:40pm

Average hours 65-70 is probably right but the variance around that is considerable. If you have a project that is well scoped, managed and staffed, you may be working 50 hours a week. Normal set-up if you're in a project close to your office is fly out on Monday morning, fly back on Thursday evening.

If you have a very demanding client, run into political difficulty (within the team, or with clients), have three consultants but would really have needed six, and your manager is inexperienced (need for rework, no 'air cover' against additional requests from partners and clients), you may work just twice as much. Stress levels on such projects are very high for long times, making a 100hr consulting week far worse than a 100hr M&A week.

Travel can be seen as a burden (-> at home less) but also, at least temporarily, as an advantage. You may be in NYC this project, Madrid next project, Dubai afterwards. If you're less lucky, it may as well be places in the middle of nowhere.

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