Private Equity Compensation & Salary, Average Private Equity Bonus

Private Equity Salary and Bonus Data by Position

Full Private Equity Industry Report

The table above is an example of private equity salaries at various levels of seniority. You can gain access to thousands of data points across hundreds of private equity firms in the WSO Company Database.

Private Equity Pay and Carry

From pre-MBA associates to managing directors, private equity pay is traditionally heavily weighted toward the bonus portion as well as carry. Carry or "carried interest" represents the percentage of the upside return that the senior private equity professionals get to keep in the case where returns exceed a certain threshold.

Let's quickly run through an example to explain how carry works and why it can be such a large portion of the compensation at private equity funds.

  1. Assume carry is 20% for a certain fund that has raised $1 billion (the most common
    level).
  2. Assume things go well and the investment professionals of that fund double the
    "value" of the fund through smart acquisitions and exits, so now they have returned $2
    billion to their limited partners (LPs).
  3. The PE fund is entitled to 20% of that incremental $1 billion of value they helped
    create for the LPs. In other words, a whopping $200 million (if this fund only has
    20-30 investment professionals, the guys at the top that own a majority of it can make
    a significant windfall if their funds perform).

In practice, the exact amount that the carry portion is worth will depend on the amount of time it takes to generate returns over and above some hurdle rate (like an 8% annual return), so it's more complicated, but you get the idea.

At the pre-MBA associate level, hours are usually slightly better than an investment banking analyst, except at some private equity mega funds. Most pre-MBA associates start after two years in investment banking or consulting and receive their first private equity bonus around June to July, approximately one year after they start working. It is rare for pre-MBA associates to receive carry, but it does happen on occasion.

Private Equity Bonus for Senior Investment Professionals

The compensation for Vice Presidents, Directors, and Managing Directors is much more variable, but the salary and bonus is usually much more of a function of the fund's performance since a lot of the compensation is tied up in carry.

See below for an estimated range of current private equity salaries.

Private Equity Compensation:

  • Analyst/Associate - First Year: $100K - $250K
  • Analyst/Associate - Second Year: $150K - $300K
  • Analyst/Associate - Third Year +: $170K - $350K
  • Vice President: $300K - $800K
  • Managing Director/Partner: $500K - $10MM+


(Again, please note that, at the higher levels, private equity compensation comes with
carried interest, which is directly related to your firm's profitability and may
result in a large payout.)

These private equity salary figures are an approximation and rough range based on the user registration data on Wall Street Oasis as well as the thousands of discussions on PE compensation that the community has had at these levels.

For more details on the specific pay at certain firms, please check out our private equity industry report. Just by adding one submission you can unlock all of this data (sample below) along or pay a small monthly subscription.

Interested in Private Equity? Here's What You Need to Break In

Private equity is recruiting is ten times more cut-throat than anything you've ever experienced before. If you want to break into private equity, you need to be ready for the technical aspects of the interview. The WSO private equity interview course is worth well more than the price of admission.

PE Interview Questions