Who is McKinsey & Co?

McKinsey & Co is a strategy consulting firm that was founded in 1926 by James O. McKinsey, a professor at the University of Chicago. It is the oldest of the “Big Three” management consulting firms (McKinsey, BCG and Bain).

It is considered to be the world’s most prestigious management consulting firm. The firm has consistently placed first on the Vault Most Prestigious Consulting Firms list and works with 90 of the world’s 100 largest corporations.

McKinsey generated approximately $10.5bn revenue in 2019, putting it ahead of rivals BCG ($8.6bn) and Bain & Co ($4.5bn).

Recruitment at McKinsey

McKinsey is considered to have one of the most competitive recruitment processes in the world. They reportedly receive about 200,000 applications per year and hire only ~1.1% of candidates. To put this in perspective, the acceptance rate of candidates at Goldman Sachs is said to be ~4.5%.

As you might imagine, McKinsey attracts the best-of-the-best. One partner claims that McKinsey is “the largest employer of Rhodes scholars and Marshall scholars on the planet, outside of the United States government“. In fact, the firm maintains a recruitment portal exclusively for Rhodes scholars.

The “up or out” policy

The competitive pressure doesn’t end after the recruitment process. Their employees are expected to consistently perform and progress through the ranks of the firm.

In 1951, they formally introduced an “up or out” policy. This means that employees who are not progressing fast enough are asked to leave the firm. In fact, by the year 2000, approximately the bottom 20% of employees were asked to leave each year.

In more recent times, McKinsey has relaxed the “up or out” policy slightly. Instead of requiring employees to always progress through the ranks of client work, some are given the opportunity to pursue an “expert path”, where they can specialize in a domain and support client-facing teams.

Roles and levels at McKinsey

Business Analyst

At McKinsey, Business Analyst is an entry-level role for candidates with an undergraduate degree.

As a Business Analyst, you will work within a team of 3-5 consultants and your primarily responsibilities will include research, data analysis, and building slide decks using PowerPoint. You will be guided by Associates and Engagement Managers.

Key data points:

  • Average time in role: ~2-3 years
  • Average Business Analyst salary (base salary + bonuses): ~$114,100 USD


At McKinsey, Associate is a role for candidates with a postgraduate degree (e.g. MBA) or candidates that have been promoted from Business Analyst.

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.

Key data points:

  • Average time in role: ~2-3 years
  • Average Associate salary (base salary + bonuses): ~$192,300 USD

Engagement Manager

At McKinsey, Engagement 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.

At this level, you will also be expected to take an active role in recruitment, internal training, and supporting Associate Partners and Partners with business development efforts.

Key data points:

  • Average time in role: ~2-3 years
  • Average Engagement Manager salary (base salary + bonuses): ~$262,500 USD

Associate Partner

As an Associate Partner, you will start to become less involved in the day-to-day delivery of projects, and more involved with client management and business development. In addition, at this stage of your tenure with McKinsey, you will start to focus on 1-2 specific industries and/or functional areas.

You will work across multiple projects simultaneously, and provide guidance to the Engagement Managers and project teams. At the same time, you will focus on building relationships with clients.

Key data points:

  • Average time in role: ~2-4 years
  • Average Associate Partner salary (base salary + bonuses): ~$402,000 USD

Partner / Senior Partner

As a Partner, you are firmly focused on building deep “trusted advisor” relationships with clients. You help clients identify areas where McKinsey support would be most valuable, scope the work, and set up the project team.

Although Partners are not closely involved in the day-to-day work, they provide insight and guidance for the most challenging aspects of the project.

Key data points:

  • Average time in role: N/A
  • Average Partner salary (base salary + bonuses): ~$1,000,000+ USD

Complete McKinsey salary data

How McKinsey calculates total compensation

There are a number of different components that make up McKinsey salaries, depending on the role and level.

The most typical components include:

  • Signing bonus: Offered to undergraduates joining as a Business Analyst and postgraduates joining as an Associate, paid upon contract signing.
  • Base salary: Standard salary-based compensation, excluding any benefits or bonuses.
  • Bonus: Calculated based on individual and firm performance and paid once per year.
  • Profit sharing: Most commonly offered to more senior roles (e.g. Associate Partner or Partner) and will usually make up the majority of total compensation for those roles.

McKinsey salary table

In the table below, we calculated the average McKinsey salary for each role and level. 

For these calculations, we captured over 75 unique McKinsey salary data points, and then confirmed the accuracy by interviewing current and former McKinsey employees.

If you’d like to compare McKinsey salaries with other consulting firms, check out our Deloitte salary data and Accenture salary data.

Role Title Base Salary Bonus Total Salary
Business Analyst $90,600 $23,500 $114,100
Associate $164,300 $28,000 $192,300
Engagement Manager $204,000 $58,500 $262,500
Associate Partner $225,000 $177,000 $402,000
Partner     $1,000,000+

Please remember, these are salaries are calculated from publically available data sources. They may be slightly out-of-date and are only representative of salaries in the United States.