Salary discussions are very important for most applicants at McKinsey, BCG, and Bain after having invested significant amounts of money and time into their prestigious education.
In this article, we want to give you an insight into how much money you can expect and how your salary will progress as you move up the ranks at the different strategy consulting firms. We focus on the world’s biggest consulting market, the US, and provide an indication of salary deltas to other geographies. The numbers provided below are as-close-as-possible estimates based on the triangulation of several data sources in early 2020.
Comparison based on firms
In general, the salaries for top-tier strategy consulting firms are relatively similar, however, there are significant differences to lower-tier management consulting firms.
You can expect the salary progression of the top 3 firms to look similar to the chart below.
While entry-level roles pay USD ~100k for graduates, employees hired straight from their MBA or Ph.D. graduation can expect between USD 150 to 180k, similar to early experienced highers. Entry-level consultants can expect a performance bonus to be around 15% of their salary, senior associates around 25%. Intern salaries are usually pro-rated.
The higher you move up the ranks, the higher will be the variable performance-based salary component, hence variability in salaries increases.
Project managers (Engagement managers in McKinsey speak) can earn around USD 200k including up to 40% bonus payments. Junior partners or non-equity partners would make USD ~350k and young partners start at around USD 700k per year, both with more than 50% of their salary being variable based on a combination of their performance and their firm’s performance.
From there on the sky is the limit with experienced senior partners bringing home USD 4-5mn easily in a given year. Being a shareholder in the partnership obviously comes with benefits on their own. 🙂
Generally, the bonus is normally distributed. Hence, the maximum bonus is given only to the few % of consultants with a perfect rating, whereas the majority receives around 40 to 60% of the maximum amount. Some receive only 10% of the potential payout.
Additional salary components
Based on the applicants’ tenure and experience, the top 3 consulting firms in the US pay signing bonuses in the range between USD 5k (for business analysts) and 30k (for senior associates and project leaders).
New hires can expect relocation support payments between USD 2k and 10k. The exact size of this payment is driven by the role and distance of the relocation.
Additionally, you can expect generous daily allowances, private insurance, health care and other benefits at the top consulting firms.
The salaries and compensation structure at McKinsey, BCG, and Bain are relatively rigid with very little room for negotiation.
Comparison based on location
Top management consulting salaries for a specific firm are usually the same or only vary slightly within a given country, however, they differ greatly across countries and geographies. Salaries are highest in Switzerland, the U.S.A., Germany, Australia, and the Middle East. In terms of living costs and compared to the average salaries, countries like Germany come out on top. Here, consulting firms pay a significant premium over industry roles available to recent graduates, whereas UK consulting salaries are relatively low considering the high living cost of London.
Below, we have compiled business analyst, associate, and project manager level salary breakdowns for McKinsey, BCG, and Bain for six major countries. While the data has been validated with our applicants that received offers and triangulated with various sources, please be aware that consulting salaries are not an exact science and specific components can change relatively quickly for firms to stay competitive. Let us know if you spot any inconsistencies in our data.