Many consulting firms offer internships to candidates that are still studying for an undergraduate or an MBA degree. For the purpose of this section, we’ll be focusing on undergraduate internships.
To be accepted into an internship at a top consulting firm, you must be in your second-last year of study, have less than 2 years of work experience, and show outstanding academic and non-academic performance.
Undergraduate internships typically last ~10 weeks. During that time, you’ll be expected to support case teams with real client engagements. This could include things like conducting analysis in Excel or building slide decks in PowerPoint.
Interns at McKinsey & Co, BCG or Bain & Co reportedly earn between ~$17,000-$18,000 over the 10 weeks. This was supported by the one respondent in our survey data, who reported a salary of $17,500.
Undergraduate hire salaries
Candidates with undergraduate degrees are hired by consulting firms as Business Analysts (McKinsey & Co, Kearney, Deloitte, KPMG, Accenture), Associates (BCG, Strategy&, EY-Parthenon), or Consultants (Bain & Co, Oliver Wyman).
Analysts work within a team of 3-5 consultants and they are responsible for research, data analysis, and building slide decks using PowerPoint.
At MBB consulting firms, Analysts can expect to earn a total salary of ~$120,000. This is typically made up of ~$100,000 base salary and ~$20,000 bonus.
In comparison, Tier 2 firms pay their Analysts about ~$110,000, which is made up of ~$90,000 base and ~$20,000 bonus.
Finally, Analysts at the Big 4 earn about ~$83,000. The majority is made up of base pay, as the average bonus is only ~$3,000.
MBA hire salaries
Consulting firms hire the majority of their candidates at the post-MBA level. These roles are commonly called Associates (McKinsey & Co, Oliver Wyman, Kearney) or Consultants (BCG, Bain & Co, L.E.K, Deloitte, EY-Parthenon, Accenture).
As an Associate, you will be responsible for owning a stream of work within your project and accountable for the deliverables related to that stream. You may also be required to oversee the work of Business Analysts.
At MBB consulting firms, Associates can expect to earn a total salary of ~$195,000. This is typically made up of ~$165,000 base salary and ~$30,000 bonus.
In comparison, Tier 2 firms pay their Associates about ~$180,000, which is made up of ~$160,000 base and ~$20,000 bonus.
Finally, Associates at the Big 4 earn about ~$115,000, which is made up of ~$100,000 base and ~$15,000 bonus.
Managers are responsible for leading a consulting project end-to-end. This includes planning the project, structuring the workstreams, working with the client and stakeholders, and delivering the outcomes expected of the project.
The manager role is commonly called Manager (most firms), Engagement Manager (McKinsey & Co, Oliver Wyman), Project Leader (BCG) or Case Team Leader (Bain & Co).
At MBB consulting firms, Managers can expect to earn a total salary of ~$290,000. This is typically made up of ~$210,000 base salary and ~$80,000 bonus.
In comparison, Tier 2 firms pay their Managers about ~$255,000, which is made up of ~$210,000 base and ~$45,000 bonus.
Finally, Managers at the Big 4 earn about ~$180,000, which is made up of ~$160,000 base and ~$20,000 bonus.
Principle and Partner salaries
Principles and Partners are less involved in the day-to-day delivery of projects, and more involved with client management and business development.
At these levels, the majority of remuneration comes from bonuses and equity. And because of this, it can vary quite drastically from year-to-year.
Principles and Partners earn many hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. For example, the average Australian PwC partner and Deloitte partner earns over $500,000 USD per year. And when adjusted for the US market (Australian salaries are generally lower than US salaries across the board), this figure is closer to $700,000 USD.
And, just like other roles and levels, you can expect MBB salaries and Tier 2 Firm salaries to be significantly higher than Big 4 salaries at the Principle and Partner levels.
About the analysis
Data quality and sources
The data used for this analysis was sourced by Mo Yang through ConsultingHumor’s Instagram page. The full dataset contains 4,206 self-reported consulting salaries for 2021, broken down into base salaries and bonuses.
There are obvious data quality issues with self-reported surveys, as respondents can report any salary without review. To address these issues, we removed outliers by grouping data into firm*role cross-tabulations and removing outliers. Outliers were defined as data points that were 2x the interquartile range for each group.
In addition, approximately 25% of the respondents worked in developing or near-developing nations. The reported salaries of these respondents were 50-75% below that of respondents in the US. Therefore, we limited the analysis to respondents from the US and other developed nations.
Finally, we calculated average consulting salaries using medians (not means) to further reduce the influence of outliers. All salaries are reported in US dollars.
Consulting level definitions
Each consulting firm has a different number of roles and levels, so we have standardized levels where possible.
Levels are defined as follows:
- Analyst: An entry-level role for candidates with an undergraduate degree and no previous consulting experience. This role is called Business Analyst at McKinsey & Co, Associate at BCG, and Associate Consultant at Bain & Co. (n=283)
- Associate: The entry point for candidates with an MBA degree. This role is responsible for owning a stream of work within your project and accountable for the deliverables related to that stream. This role is called Associate at McKinsey & Co, and Consultant at BCG and Bain & Co. (n=1,040)
- Manager: This role is responsible for the day-to-day management of consulting engagements. This role is known as Engagement Manager and McKinsey & Co, Project Leader at BCG, and Case Team Leader at Bain & Co. (n=516)
You can compare different roles and levels across consulting firms using this infographic:
Consulting firm groupings
There were small sample sizes for some combinations of role and firm. Therefore, we chose to group similar firms together. Where possible, we used already-established firm groupings.
Groups are defined as follows:
- MBB firms: McKinsey & Co, BCG and Bain & Co. (n=68)
- Tier 2 firms: L.E.K. Consulting, Oliver Wyman, Kearney, Strategy&, EY Parthenon, Capgemini, and Roland Berger. (n=66)
- Big 4 firms: Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC. (n=834)
- All firms: Includes the three groups above, as well as boutique firms such as Booz Allen Hamilton, IBM, Guidehouse, Protiviti, and others. (n=1,839)