Management consultant salaries in the United States will vary by position and experience. Starting from the base, fresh graduates (from undergrad institutions) earn an average base pay of $83,500 from top-tier consulting firms. Their performance bonuses range between $12,000-$18,000, with a signing bonus of $5,000.
For entry-level hires salaries are about $83,500 on average at the top tier firms. Performance bonuses are about $15,775 on average, with a $5,000 signing bonus.
Salaries for MBA hires (and consultants with a few years’ experience) are about $149,000 on average at top tier firms. These hires can earn a performance bonus of about $37,000 on average, with a $25,000 signing bonus.
For project leaders, salaries are about $175,000 on average at top tier firms. They also earn performance bonuses of up to $80,000 and profit-sharing opportunities of $28,000-$30,000. These consultants take home a total amount of $250,000- $300,000.
There are also higher-level salaries for top consultants in these firms. When you get to this level, you essentially become a shareholder/partner in the firm. Base salaries for high-level personnel range between $570,000-$1,000,000, with performance bonuses of up to$300,000 varying by firm.
Here’s a breakdown of salaries for management consultants according to the top three consulting firms.
Undergraduate Salaries (Entry-level)
- Base Salary: $83,000
- Performance Bonus: $18,000 max
- Signing Bonus: $5,000
- Relocation Assistance: $2,000- $10,000
- Base Salary: $83,500
- Performance Bonus: $12,525 max
- Signing Bonus: $5,000
- Relocation Assistance: $2,000-$8,000
- Base Salary: $84,000
- Performance Bonus: $16,800 max
- Signing Bonus: $5,000
- Relocation Assistance: $2,000-$8,000
MBA Salaries (and Experienced Consultants)
For candidates being hired with experience or directly from MBA programs, the starting salary is more competitive. These top three firms only hire the most competitive candidates from the most prestigious MBA programs.
- Base Salary: $152,500
- Performance Bonus: $35,000 max
- Signing Bonus: $25,000
- Relocation Assistance: $2,000-$9,000
- Base Salary: $148,000
- Performance Bonus: $37,000 max
- Signing Bonus: $25,000
- Relocation Assistance: $5,000 max
- Base Salary: $147,000
- Performance Bonus: $44,100 max
- Signing Bonus: $30,000
- Relocation Assistance: $2,000 - $8,000
Other Consulting Firms Salaries
While Bain, BCG, and McKinsey offer the most competitive consultant salaries in the market currently, salaries offered at less prestigious firms are still very good. Here are a few of these firms:
The base salary for a consultant is about $88,000, with a performance bonus of $13,000. Consultants can also receive a signing bonus of $12,500. Total Salary: $113,500
MBA associates receive about $145,000 as a base salary, with a performance bonus of $31,900. They can also expect a signing bonus of $25,000.Total MBA Salary: $201,900
Accenture has been growing in popularity during recent years. Their emphasis on technology, cost-cutting, and effectively managing operations has led to better consultant pay over time.
Consultants at Accenture can expect a base salary as high as $85,000. This is often accompanied with a performance bonus of $8,500 and a signing bonus of $10,000. Total salary $103,500.
For MBA associates, the base salary is about $147,500, with a performance bonus of $44,000and a signing bonus of $25,000.Total MBA salary $216,500.
Entry-level consultants earn $68,000 as a base salary, with a $10,000 performance bonus. Total salary $78,000.
MBA hires earn a base salary of $120,000, with a $30,000 max performance bonus and a $20,000 signing bonus.Total MBA Salary $170,000.
Entry-level consultants earn a base salary of $72,000, with a $10,00 performance bonus. Total salary $82,000.
MBA hires earn $135,000 -$140,000, with a max $27,000 performance bonus and a $25,000 signing bonus.Total MBA salary $187,000-$192,000.
Why Management Consultant Pay is Competitive
The role of a management consultant is important to many businesses. Consultants help clients solve complex problems that may be impeding growth and limiting their bottom line. In addition to their significant role, why do consultants receive competitive pay? The simple answer is that they’ve cultivated professional relationships with clients. Corporate executives trust and have confidence in a particular consulting firm or even in a particular consultant.
Management consulting firms also rely on junior associates to do a large portion of the work. Junior consultants (recent college or MBA programs) fuel the collection and analysis of data. Project leaders and partners mainly oversee these operations and interpret the data to provide solutions to clients.
So, consulting firms seek out the best and brightest minds from colleges and business schools. They desire applicants who have tangible experience on their resume, with specific and quantifiable goals. Some consulting firms recruit individuals quite early. They may offer summer internships with a pay of about $10,000 a month for candidates from top schools.
Here are some of the top MBA programs that consulting firms recruit from, and the first-year consulting salary figures associated with these MBA programs. These figures include salary and bonuses.
- Wharton MBA: $132,500
- Harvard MBA: $131,759
- Tuck MBA: $128,000
- MIT MBA: $125,905
- Columbia MBA: $123,486
For recent graduates of undergraduate business programs, the pay offered by top consulting firms is also quite competitive. While most business graduates earn an average of $48,144 (according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers), consulting firms often start these new recruits off with $70,000 and above. However, only students of top talent within these programs are recruited.
Here are first year consulting salaries offered to recruits from top undergraduate institutions.
- University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Business School)
Undergrads earn an average of $70,000.
- MIT (Sloan School of Business)
MIT grads from Sloan earn an average of $65,000.
- Michigan (Ross)
Michigan grads earn an average of $60,000.
- NYU (Stern)
NYU undergrads earn an average of $58,000.
- Washington University (Olin)
Washington grads from Olin also earn an average of $58,000 when they enter the industry.
The competitive pay of new recruits stems from their ability to present information, knowledge, and advice because management consults essentially sell information and advice to clients. A big part of the success of consulting firms is presenting this knowledge in a confident and digestible manner.
Consulting firms prioritize critical thinking and presentation skills in young recruits. Recruits are often expected to mold a specific way of approaching problems and implementing solutions. If you have developed these skills as a new recruit, your chances of excelling within the firm are quite favorable.
Different Types of Management Consultants
The key to helping businesses grow is to take a very specific problem-solving approach. So, consultants not only pursue a well-defined problem-solving strategy, but they also segment the consulting industry into several specific areas.
With more specific categories, management consultants can address client challenges that impede growth more thoroughly. There may be slight variations in the pay offered within each subset of management consulting. Let’s look at each category in more detail.
Strategy consultants provide advice regarding how businesses can adapt their general strategy towards growth. They may advise a business on how to penetrate a new market or how to plan for relocation. They may also provide advice regarding new product launches, pricing, market differentiation, etc.
Strategy consultants typically earn a base salary between $70,000-$100,000 at the entry level. MBA grads earn $150,000 while project leaders in strategy consulting earn $175,000.
Information Technology Consulting
Information Technology consultants have become important assets for consulting firms. Because they provide much-needed technology solutions to businesses, they enable such clients to realize growth, operational efficiency, and increased profits. Information Technology consultants are often conversant with a wide variety of technologies, including data security systems and Enterprise resource planning systems.
Most Information Technology consultants start off with an average base salary of $75,000 for entry-level positions in lower-tier firms. In the top three firms, Information Technology consultants start off with $85,000-$90,000 as a base salary. MBA recruits and experienced Information Technology consultants earn $150,000 on average, while project leaders earn a base salary between $175,000-$180,000.
Human Resource Consulting
Human Resource consultants provide important advice regarding personnel management. They help clients establish employee programs, recruit top talent, and even establish appropriate retirement plans. The role of Human Resource consultant has grown significantly because more businesses are seeking to get the most productivity out of their personnel. Poor employee management can prove costly to any business. Human Resourceconsultants help address challenges within this area.
As a new Human Resource consultant, you can expect to earn an average of $79,390 as a base salary from second-tier consulting firms.
Risk consultants have a primary role of identifying loss exposures and proposing appropriate mitigation steps. The risk may be from workers’ compensation claims, unsuccessful investment decisions, or non-Hcompliance penalties. Because businesses face a wide variety of risks, these consultants come in handy to establish effective mitigation steps in the event of a risky situation.
The important role of risk consultant earns higher average salaries, with an average base salary of $91,800 offered by second-tier consulting firms. Project managers in risk consulting earn a base pay of $140,000-$150,000 within similar firms.
Financial consultants tackle challenges related to accounting practices, risk management, taxes, and other money matters. They help clients streamline their monetary operations in different contexts. In most cases, financial consultants fall under larger audit firms. They use a combination of data, industry experience, and research to propose more effective financial plans for clients.
Most mid-tier consulting firms pay a salary between $65,000-$70,000 for entry-level financial consultants. Senior financial consultants at these firms earn a salary of $112,000-$120,000. In the top three consulting firms, you can expect to earn $80,000 as an entry level salary, and $149,500 as a project manager salary.
Planning Your Career Path
In management consulting, your annual compensation will rise as you become more experienced. This means that there are multiple opportunities for growth within your career path. Your choice in career path will determine how you grow, both professionally and financially.
The Entry Level
During your first two years, you’ll work on a variety of consulting projects in many different areas (e.g. financial consulting, HR, strategy consulting). This will give you an overview of the consulting landscape before you begin to specialize in a chosen category.
Your early experiences will largely involve taking specific approaches to solve client problems. These fundamentals will serve as the basis of your growth within the field.
After your entry-level years, you may be promoted to a senior consultant. Senior consultants play a more important oversight role within projects. In this stage, you’ll grow your network among client organizations.
Depending on the performance of projects that you’re a part of, performance bonuses will continue to grow. Most performance bonuses range between 25%- 30% of your base salary.
From a senior consultant, you can become a project manager. Project managers are responsible for overseeing client projects and making critical decisions regarding the approach that junior consultants should take.
At this point, your base salary will range between $145,000-$150,000 in top consulting firms and $120,000-$135,000 in lower-tier firms. Most project managers are industry veterans with years of experience and an in-depth knowledge of problem-solving skills.
Project managers may become shareholders or partners of a consulting firm. At this level, you will most likely own a portion of the firm’s stock. Therefore, the performance of your entire firm will directly determine how much you can make within a specific timeframe. You may also receive bonuses from the projects that you participate in as a shareholder/partner.
I hope this article gives you a solid understanding of what you can expect to make as a management consultant. Remember that the pay varies by firm, your level of expertise, and your performance on the job. While management consulting pay is lucrative, it’s performance-based. Your efforts on the job will directly determine how much you can take home at the end of the day.
When you are looking at competing offers or considering which firm to pursue, look at all income factors and not just the base salary. Compensation can also include bonuses, retirement planning, profit-sharing, etc. If you’re not a top performer yet, maybe look for a more consistent salary. If you do consider yourself to be a top performer, don’t be concerned about a small difference in base salary. Which income factors are most important to you? Comment below with your thoughts.