Consulting Salaries 2024 – How Much Can You Really Earn?

Talking about salary is taboo? Not with us! 😊 We've heard all sorts of things about salaries in the consulting industry, but it's sometimes hard to assess which information to trust. Don’t worry: We're here to cut through the noise so that you know exactly what to consider when it comes to salary and what you can expect.

Without attractive salaries, consulting firms would lack a crucial draw for top talents. After all, consultants bring a comprehensive skill set and should be compensated accordingly. But what figures can you expect? How is the salary structured in consulting? And what else comes on top of the base salary? On PrepLounge, you'll find not only preparation resources for your case interviews but also all the information you need to thrive in your consulting career.

How Is the Salary Structured in Consulting?

Compensation packages in consulting generally consist of the following components:

  1. Base Salary: Your monthly fixed income

  2. Bonus: Voluntary additional payment from your employer

  3. Benefits: Non-monetary perks (e.g., company phone, meals, training, etc.)
     

components consulting salaries

1. Base Salary

The most important thing for you: What ends up in your account at the end of the month? Your base salary is your main income stream and should therefore be in the spotlight. This is your stable paycheck, which typically arrives in your account at the end of each month. Keep in mind that it's stated in gross figures and is subject to taxation. The amount of tax you pay mainly depends on your place of residence. You can find several tools online to calculate your net salary and to help you figure out what you’ll take home. Negotiation room for base salary is uncommon in the consulting industry.

2. Bonus

Bonuses are typically tied to specific conditions set by consulting firms: firstly, to how well you perform on your agreed-upon goals, and secondly, to the company's performance. This includes factors such as the volume of projects and client satisfaction. Your own performance lies within your scope, but the company's performance can depend on numerous other variables that probably don’t lie in your hands. 

While the bonus is not an absolutely guaranteed part of your salary, the goals set are usually achievable. Bonuses are primarily meant to keep you motivated and provide an additional extrinsic incentive to go the extra mile. The more you progress on your career path, the more relevant the bonus becomes. By the time you reach the management level, you're also expected to make a significant contribution to the company's success and take on entrepreneurial responsibility.

Some companies sweeten the deal with an attractive signing bonus, which you receive after signing the contract. This is especially appealing when you have to choose between multiple offers. Insider tip: Often, this welcome bonus is flexible, so the varying amounts of bonuses can work to your advantage during negotiations. 🤫 However, there are also significant differences between countries. Be sure to pay attention to repayment conditions for the signing bonus in case of an early exit.

3. Benefits

In addition to monetary compensation, consulting firms often offer generous benefits packages. These may include:

  • Mobility packages, such as a company car or public transportation discounts
  • Cafeteria, meal vouchers, or even free meals
  • Discounts for hotels or clothing stores
  • Contributions to company pension plans
  • Childcare
  • Training opportunities
  • Additional vacation days
  • Relocation assistance

But beware: These packages can vary even within the same company in different countries.

Benefits have evolved significantly in recent years in the job market. Drivers for this evolution include the COVID-19 pandemic, where remote work became a must-have and now is usually part of the standard repertoire of employers. Also, competition is fierce: consulting firms must keep up with the latest benefit trends and, in addition to fruit baskets and employee discounts, get more creative. Therefore, it's worth educating yourself, asking questions, and comparing offers.

 

Which Factors Influence Your Salary in Consulting?

factors consulting salaries

Experience 

Experience might pay off in terms of salary. Even intern salaries in consulting can vary significantly. As a rule of thumb, you can expect your salary to increase with experience – and this holds true across all consulting firms. Experience not only pays off financially but also advances you professionally and equips you with valuable expertise. With suitable internships or engagements in student consulting clubs, you can set yourself apart from other top talents. So, especially during internships, pay attention not only to the salary but also to the learning opportunities offered.

Location 

New York, London, or Berlin? Flexibility in choosing your location can pay off to get the most out of your salary. Here's an overview of what you can expect in various countries in the consulting industry:

The salary differences in the consulting industry have multifaceted reasons. Naturally, in addition to the local economic situation, the cost of living in each country plays a significant role. Additionally, supply and demand for consulting services can be factors for salary discrepancies.

Specialization

Even at entry-level, differences exist based on the prestige and specialization of the consulting firm. For instance, you'll typically earn more in strategy consulting initially compared to digitalization or sustainability consulting. Reasons for this include higher travel activity, a greater impact of your position, involvement in riskier projects, and high-profile clients. However, boutique consulting firms such as Strategy&, Simon-Kucher, or Oliver Wyman, may offer growth opportunities that are structurally difficult to find in BCG and Co. As a result, advancement may be quicker, leading to a comparatively higher salary.

Academic Background

Globally, there are significant differences in whether you earn more with a prestigious degree from an elite university compared to the same degree from a lesser-known institution. For example, your academic background carries more weight in the US and the UK than in Germany, where significant differences in the same position are not expected due to equal treatment laws. However, there is generally a noticeable salary gap between entry-level candidates with a bachelor's or master's degree and those with a PhD. Pursuing another academic degree can therefore be worthwhile, especially when considering salary. Many consulting firms also offer programs for bachelor's graduates to pursue their master's, MBA, or PhD after a certain period of employment. This is a valuable option if you want to kickstart your career immediately after completing your bachelor's degree.

 

Where Can I Earn the Most Money in Consulting?

In general, you can expect the most attractive salary packages at McKinsey, BCG, Bain (MBB), and the Big Four (Deloitte, KPMG, EY, PwC). However, companies may differ in their salary structures and additional benefits. So, don't just be impressed by big numbers; pay close attention to the overall package (base salary, bonus, and benefits). This also includes factors such as your opportunities for advancement, level of responsibility, and the industry you'll be advising. Also, consider how well the consulting firm of your choice fits your work-life balance needs and whether you feel comfortable in its corporate culture. At the end of the month, it's not just about the number in your bank account, but also building a sustainable and fulfilling career. If you're feeling lost among the myriad of consulting firms, check out our ”Match Your Career” tool! Choose what's important to you in an employer and get an overview of your perfect match.

 

How and When Do I Ask About Salary During the Application Process?

Don't panic about the salary question! The good news: In a structured interview process, salary negotiation or information is already planned on the company's side. This means that especially with large consulting firms, this aspect is already handled for you. However, it may take until the offer conversation, as consulting firms aim to convince you not only with a great salary but also with compelling career opportunities and projects. After all, it should be a good fit on both sides.

 

Can I Negotiate My Salary in Consulting?

Salary negotiations are generally uncommon in consulting. Especially with prestigious consulting firms, the base salary per position is standardized.

PrepLounge Coach Francesco knows where you can still get more out of your salary in strategy consulting:

Francesco
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

"While the base salary is usually non-negotiable, with the right argumentation, you may be able to negotiate the following contract points:

  • The signing bonus
  • Relocation assistance
  • Your seniority level

For tips on salary negotiation, I recommend "Never Split the Difference" by Chris Voss, where you'll find helpful insights."

How Does the Salary Differ by Career Level?

As you climb the corporate ladder, your salary increases. Typically, as a consultant, you progress predefined levels. With each promotion, you receive a new base salary. After all, you have developed new skills and gained more experience along the way. You can expect an increase of about 10-20%. At the upper hierarchy level, the salary increase might be even more significant. However, keep in mind that these are general guidelines that can vary depending on the company and location.

 

To Which Extent Does the Salary Increase over the Course of a Consulting Career?

As described above, with increasing career level, you can also expect a more extensive salary package. But what about a job change into another industry? Consultants also have a high reputation outside the consulting industry in the business landscape. Their high level of expertise, flexibility, external perspective, and problem-solving skills make them valuable assets for companies in almost all industries. Consequently, the career prospects and thus the salary prospects are promising. Long-term experience in management consulting pays off not only for your professional development but also financially for salary negotiations in corporations.

 

What Trends Are Emerging for Salaries in the Consulting Industry?

The consulting industry is constantly adapting to new developments and challenges in the job market, requiring proactive responses. Adjusting salaries has been necessary in the past to keep up with competitors, retain top talent, and provide competitive non-monetary benefits that cater to the growing demand for work-life balance. This aspect is gaining relevance, especially for the "new generation of consultants". The trend is therefore clearly shifting towards offering even more attractive benefits.


More Overtime = More Salary?

The role of consultants requires a high level of dedication and flexibility. Accumulating several hours of overtime per week on client projects is unfortunately not uncommon and should be taken into account. But are your overtime hours paid out as a consultant? In practice, you are expected to deliver a certain level of performance. Payment for overtime is rather uncommon and may be compensated for by other measures, such as days off between completed and upcoming projects.
 

Your Key-Takeaways for Salaries in Consulting

  • Salary is not solely about the net income at the end of the month! Pay attention to benefits and other monetary and non-monetary perks.
  • Many factors impact your salary: Experience, entry level, location of your workplace, and specialization of the consulting firm.
  • In general, MBB, the Big Four, and boutique consulting firms offer attractive salary packages as well as advancement offers that can vary from country to country.
  • Salary is important – but it’s not everything. Look at the bigger picture and consider what the company offers you in addition to financial benefits.

We hope our guide to salaries in consulting empowers you to start the next interview process with confidence. And if you need help preparing for your interview, PrepLounge is happy to support you. Sign up and check out our preparation resources such as our case library, the opportunity to connect with peers and coaching sessions.🚀

 

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