How much do consultants make?
That’s a difficult question to answer. Consulting is an incredibly diverse field, and that means that consulting salaries vary wildly across various niches, industries, specialties, and locations.
If you want our best attempt at a quick summary, check out the video below:
If you are considering pursuing a consulting career and want a more detailed analysis of consulting salaries based on consulting category, niche, career progression, and even across specific firms, keep reading.
Let’s Start With The Average Consulting Salary
Averages don’t mean much in a diverse field like consulting, but they do make for a solid starting point.
If we look at every job with "consultant" in the title across the three major salary tracking companies, Glassdoor, Payscale, and Indeed, we find that the average consulting salary is right around $75,000 per year.
While that may not sound especially impressive, it’s actually quite high for an average. In comparison, the average white collar professional salary is only $63,076.
That’s a 20% jump, which is massive when we are talking about industry-wide averages.
But of course, there’s not a whole lot we can learn from a single average salary figure.
To better understand consulting pay, we will need to break it down by the different elements that affect how much any individual consultant earns.
The Three Major Categories of Consulting
The definition of consulting is fairly broad. It is simply the business of providing expert advice to a specific group of people.
Accordingly, the world of consulting is broad and diverse. We’ve attempted to break this world down into three categories, but keep in mind there will be a lot of crossover between theses categories and lot of differing fields inhabiting each one.
Frankly, this world doesn’t lend itself to categorization, but for our purposes, these are the three major categories of consulting:
- Management Consulting
- Corporate Consulting
- Independent Consulting
Pretty much any type of consulting gig can fit into one of these three categories. Let’s take a closer look at each one and explore the fees and salaries its consultants can expect.
Category #1: Management Consulting Salaries
Management Consulting is what most people think of when someone says “consulting.” Management consultants help businesses improve their performance, solve key problems, handle complex events, and find more effective strategies for growth.
This field is dominated by large firms like McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group, which charge massive consulting fees to help enterprise businesses improve in a number of key areas:
- Human Resources
- Risk & Compliance
- Finance & Accounting
When it comes to employee salaries, you won’t find numbers much higher than you find in management consulting.
The average management consulting salary is $92,867, and for people who work their way up the top firms, that’s chump change.
Like most career paths that have end in “partner”, the career and pay progression is fairly standard. You spend around two years in each role, and if you have the chops and patience to stick with a big firm, your consulting salary progression looks something like this:
- Entry level "Analyst": $70K - $100K
- Post-MBA "Associate": $150K - $200K
- "Manager": $200K - $300K
- "Senior Manager": $300K - $400K
- "Junior Partner": $500K - $900K
- "Senior Partner": $1M+
As you would expect with such a lucrative career, getting into management consulting is extremely difficult and ludicrously competitive. You need top-tier grades, you need to make the right connections at networking events, and you need to absolutely nail each stage of the interview process.
And things don’t ease up once you’re in. You will need to perform well at each level in order to keep moving up in the firm, and the workload increases the higher up you go.
Since this is a popular topic, and a lot of people want to see salaries from specific firms, we are going to go ahead and look at the pay from the top 10 most-searched consulting firms.
Consulting Salaries By Firm: What Do The Most Popular Firms Pay?
There are quite a few well-known consulting firms, so we looked up the most popular by online search volume.
We’ve listed them in order of search popularity and included their annual revenue for context:
- Deloitte Consulting - $15.36 Billion
- Accenture Consulting - $4.68 Billion
- McKinsey Consulting - $7.65 Billion
- FTI Consulting - $1.76 Billion
- BCG Consulting - $5.04 Billion
- Slalom Consulting - $810 Million
- PwC Consulting - $15.96 Billion
- Bain Consulting - $2.30 Billion
- IBM Consulting - $3.36 Billion
- L.E.K. Consulting - $100 Million
So how much do these firms pay?
For this section, we have pulled most of our data from Management Consulted and filled in some gaps with additional 3rd party data. We are also focusing primarily on entry level consulting salaries, because past that, salaries become highly dependent on both individual and firm performance.
1. Deloitte Consulting Salaries - $15.36 Billion
As one of the Big 4 accounting firms, Deloitte had the inside track to scaling a consulting division, which now accounts for nearly 40% of the firm’s $40 Billion annual revenue. Deloitte has been ranked as the best place to launch a career, the most in-demand employer, and one of the top 5 most attractive places to work.
Analyst Base: $88,000 (Canada: C$70,000) (NZ: NZ$47,000) (UK: £39,500)
- Performance Bonus: up to $13,200 (15% of base) (UK: up to 5%)
- Signing Bonus: $12,500 (Canada: C$5,000) (NZ: NZ$2,000)
MBA Associate Base: $145,000 (Canada MBA: C$125,000)
- Performance Bonus: up to $31,900
- Signing Bonus: $25,000 (additional $17,500 for returning interns, $20K early signing) (Canada: C$20,000)
2. Accenture Consulting Salaries - $4.68 Billion
Accenture is a massive consulting firm with an emphasis on technology and a focus on efficiency, cost-cutting, and operations management. While it’s not the most lucrative firm to pursue the partner track, it tends to be a great springboard for jumping into cushy corporate consulting gigs.
Analyst Base: $77,500-85,000 (Canada: C$75,000)
- Performance Bonus: up to $8,500 (10% of base)
- Signing Bonus: $10,000 (Canada: C$10,000)
MBA Associate Base: $147,500 (Canada: C$140,000)
- Performance Bonus: up to $44,400
- Signing Bonus: $25,000 (Canada: C$15,000)
3. McKinsey Consulting Salaries - $7.65 Billion
McKinsey & Company is part of the famous “MBB” trio: McKinsey, Bain, and BCG. These are historically the three most prestigious firms in consulting, and they remain at the top of the industry today, despite being overtaken in revenue by the Big 4’s consulting divisions. With an unmatched 95 year history, McKinsey is arguably THE most prestigious consulting firm today, and it does a significant amount of work in the public sector and education advisory practices.
Analyst Base: $83,000 (Canada: C$82,500) (Germany: €67,000)
- Performance Bonus: up to $18,000 (Canada: up to C$24,500)
- Signing Bonus: $5,000 (Canada: C$5,250)
MBA Associate Base: $152,500 (UK: £90,000)
- Performance Bonus: up to $35,000
- Signing Bonus: $25,000
4. FTI Consulting Salaries - $1.76 Billion
Launching just 30 years ago, FTI Consulting helped revolutionize the world of forensic technology, gaining national recognition for their role in cases like the O.J. Simpson trial. In 2018, the firm boasts over 4,000 employees, $1.76 Billion in annual revenue, and is the leading player in legal analysis and data-driven research supporting major enterprise initiatives.
Analyst Base: $68,000
- Performance Bonus: up to $10,000
- Signing Bonus: $7,000
MBA Associate Base: $120,000
- Performance Bonus: up to $30,000
- Signing Bonus: $20,000
5. BCG Consulting Salaries - $5.04 Billion
Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is another member of the MBB trio and is most famous for its thought leadership on business growth and its innovative approach to business strategy. The firm advises more than two-thirds of the Fortune 500 and was #3 on Fortune’s list of best places to work.
Analyst Base: $84,000 (Canada: C$78,000) (Aus: A$67,000) (Germany: €68,500)
- Performance Bonus: up to $16,800
- Signing Bonus: $5,000 (Canada: C$8,000) (Aus: A$15,000)
MBA Associate Base: $147,000 (Dubai: $130,000) (UK: £87,500)
- Performance Bonus: up to $44,100
- Signing Bonus: $30,000 (Dubai: $30,000)
6. Slalom Consulting Salaries - $810 Million
Slalom started as a talent placement firm and has evolved into a business and technology consulting firm with more than 5,000 employees. Unlike virtually all the firms on this list, Slalom tends to be both a low-stress place to work and a poor option for springboarding an ambitious career.
Analyst Base: $65,000
- Performance Bonus: up to $6,000
- Signing Bonus: $5,000
MBA Associate Base: $115,000
- Performance Bonus: up to $20,000
- Signing Bonus: $11,000
7. PwC Consulting Salaries - $15.96 Billion
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is another Big 4 accounting firm that has taken the consulting world by storm. PwC’s consulting division tops every other player with a whopping $15.96 Billion in revenue and accounts for 42% of the firm’s $37.7 Billion total revenue. As a firm, PwC has been around for more than 160 years and currently works with 422 of the Fortune 500.
Analyst Base: $72,000 (Canada: C$61,000)
- Performance Bonus: up to $10,800 (15% of base) (Canada: up to $9,150)
- Signing Bonus: $5-10,000
MBA Associate Base: $135-140,000
- Performance Bonus: up to $27,000
- Starting Bonus: $25,000
8. Bain Consulting Salaries - $2.30 Billion
Rounding out the MBB trio is Bain & Company. Bain is the youngest of the trio and is best known for its work with private equity firms, it’s rebound under the leadership of Mitt Romney in the early 90’s, and its unorthodox practice of offering consulting work in exchange for equity.
Analyst Base: $83,500 (UK: £45,500)
- Performance Bonus: up to $12,525 (15% of base)
- Signing Bonus: $5,000 (UK: £3,000)
MBA Associate Base: $148,000 (Canada: C$120,000) (UK: £85,000)
- Performance Bonus: up to $37,000
- Signing Bonus: $25,000
9. IBM Consulting Salaries - $3.36 Billion
IBM has been at the forefront of computing hardware and technology since the brand’s inception. As computing capabilities became increasingly advanced, the company recognized a need among its clients for dedicated technology consulting and launched its consulting division in the early 90s. IBM then acquired PwC’s original consulting division in 2002, doubling the size of its consulting services and cementing it as a leading player in technology consulting.
Analyst Base: $75,000 (Canada: C$68,000)
- Performance Bonus: up to $8,400 (12% of base)
- Signing Bonus: $7,000 (Canada: C$5,000)
MBA Associate Base: $147,500
- Performance Bonus: up to $14,750
- Signing Bonus: $25,000 (additional $15,000 for returning interns)
10. L.E.K. Consulting Salaries - $100 Million
L.E.K. Consulting was founded by three former Bain & Company partners and is the only global strategy firm to originate in the U.K. The firm’s main focus is on corporate strategy, operations, and mergers & acquisition. It’s known for being both an exceptional place to work and one of the most challenging firms to interview for.
Base: $75,000 (Canada: C$68,000)
- Performance Bonus: up to $8,400 (12% of base)
- Signing Bonus: $7,000 (Canada: C$5,000)
- Performance Bonus: up to $25,000
- Signing Bonus: $25,000 (additional $25,000 for returning interns)
Category #2: Corporate Consulting Salaries
The next category is corporate consulting.
This category is huge. It basically incorporates every in-house consulting position. Sometimes it looks similar to management consulting, and many people in the management consulting industry will cross over into corporate consulting positions at some point, but it covers more than that.
For example, it’s common for businesses in the software, IT, and technology fields to have in-house consulting services that help their customers implement and use the product or suite they just purchased.
This category can also included smaller consulting agencies or B2B service providers that work with corporations and small businesses to tackle specific challenges.
For corporate consulting, the average salary is around $75k, with 90% of salaries falling between $46k - $110k.
But as always, a single average doesn’t tell us much, so let’s break it down.
Consulting Salaries By Niche: How Much Do Popular Fields Pay?
As we’ve mentioned a few times before, consulting is a highly diverse field. Accordingly, it would take an encyclopedia to cover every variety of consulting niche.
While we can’t take a comprehensive look at consulting niches and their salaries, we can look at the most popular, and just like before, we’ve decided to rank these based on Google search data.
These are the 10 consulting fields prospective employees are most interested in:
- IT Consultant
- Management Consultant
- Business Consultant
- Environmental Consultant
- Marketing Consultant
- Financial Consultant
- Healthcare Consultant
- HR Consultant
- Social Media Consultant
- Software Consultant
1. IT Consultant Salary
The role of an IT consultant is to be a business’s technology specialist. IT consultants will typically advise on, set up, and maintain the technological framework on which a business is built. They can also be brought in to evaluate an existing setup, make optimization or replacement recommendations, and then help integrate any changes into the existing framework.
The average annual salary for an IT Consultant or “Analyst” is $73,600.
2. Management Consultant Salary
We already discussed management consulting in the first section of this guide, but we wanted to highlight where it sits in terms of popularity and leave this as a reminder that the types of consulting performed by management consulting firms have a lot of crossover with in-house work in a corporate environment, as well as the next entry on our list below.
The average annual salary for a Management Consultant is $92,900.
3. Business Consultant Salary
Business consultants analyze the existing practices of a business and then make recommendations for improvement, typically at a smaller scale or with more of a niche target than management consulting. Business consultants nearly always have some area of specialized expertise, such as business growth, human resources, operations, etc., which they are brought in specifically to provide.
The average annual salary for a Business Consultant is $72,900.
4. Environmental Consultant Salary
Environmental consultants help predict the environmental effects of proposed activity and advise on ways to limit damage and ensure that all activity complies with environmental regulations. Some environmental consultants work directly for government bodies or private organizations and help advise on smaller ranges of ongoing activity. Others work in big teams within an environmental consulting firm and are hired by government bodies and enterprise businesses to advise on very large projects.
The average annual salary for an Environmental Consultant is $61,200.
5. Marketing Consultant Salary
Marketing consultants help businesses attract, convert, and retain new clients. Some focus on helping businesses identify and then implement the right marketing channels. Others specialize in a single marketing channel and focus on running campaigns for that channel at the highest possible level. While some marketing consultants work as individuals, many have their own agencies that help them handle larger projects and provide a more complete service for their clients.
The average annual salary for a Marketing Consultant is $54,000.
6. Financial Consultant Salary
Financial consultants, also referred to as financial advisors, help companies and individuals plan for their financial futures by offering guidance on topics such as taxes, investments, and insurance.
The average annual salary for a Financial Consultant or “Advisor” is $64,400.
7. Healthcare Consultant Salary
Healthcare consultants are essentially just management consultants with specific expertise in the healthcare industry. Healthcare organizations are often extremely large and complex. Healthcare consultants will analyze elements of the business like structure, workflow, and strategy and then advise on ways to increase efficiency.
The average annual salary for a Healthcare Consultant is $76,000.
8. Image Consultant
A good deal of someone’s success in business can often be attributed to the image they project, both online and in person. An image consultant is someone who helps their clients develop and project their desired image through a combination of clothing, grooming, and behavior coaching. Image consultants often help through online coaching, but for wealthier clients, they might travel to the client’s location and work with them in person.
The average annual salary for an Image Consultant is $42,000.
9. Social Media Consultant
Most modern businesses are using or at least attempting to use social media to positively position their business, yet few really know how to use it effectively. A social media consultant helps a business understand how to use social media. They will work with the business’s owner or marketing team to better understand their social audience, create a clear strategy, and set measurable objectives for their social media efforts. In some cases, the consultant might take over and manage social campaigns directly.
The average annual salary for an Social Media Consultant or “Specialist” is $45,200.
10. Software Consultant
While the term “software consultant” can sometimes be used to describe software developers hired for limited engagements, it can also refer to experts of a specific type of software. When businesses purchase large, complex software suites that will be fundamental to their operations, they will often hire software consultants to help them implement the software and optimize their workflows around it.
The average annual salary for a Software Consultant is $78,700.
Category #3: Independent Consulting Salaries
The third and final major category of consulting is independent consulting.
Often, when someone has developed expertise in an area, they choose to build and run their own business around that expertise rather than continue as an employee.
The particular expertise being sold can be virtually anything, and many of the niches mentioned in the previous section make for great independent consulting careers. Thanks to the emerging gig economy, thousands of new independent consultants are creating highly lucrative businesses for themselves.
While different independent consultants build their businesses in different ways, most are using the internet as their primary avenue for generating leads and landing new clients, which is the strategy we teach here at Consulting.com.
According to our data sources, the average annual revenue of an independent consultant is $97,000.
While there is much less data to work with for this category, we think this is probably an accurate average for a number of reasons.
First of all, we know that nearly 20% of full time independent consultants and contractors are earning six figures and above.
Second, revenue potential for an independent consultant is completely uncapped, with many consultants earning seven and even eight figures. This tends to skew the averages higher, similar to what we saw with management consulting.
Third, we can provide some data from our own training, which has had more than 10,000 students. Out of that group, 24 have broken the million dollar mark, 453 have crossed six figures, and over 3,700 have quit their jobs to do consulting full-time.
Clearly, there is a lot of opportunity to do well as an independent consultant.
Next Steps: Become A Consultant
If consulting sounds like the career for you, you have a few options moving forward:
Option #1: If you are still in college or are in the first year or two of your career, you might have a shot at getting into management consulting. You will need to have an exceptional GPA, have attended a top school, and be phenomenal in an interview setting.
Option #2: If you want to get into corporate consulting, you will need to look into the specific niche you are interested in and then start sending out applications for open positions. If you aren’t located in a major urban area, you will very likely need to relocate.
Option #3: If you want to become an independent consultant and build your own consulting business, you will need to identify a specific problem that your consulting will solve and then develop a reliable system for bringing in new clients each month.
There are a lot of different resources available online for getting hired as a management or corporate consultant. It’s incredibly competitive, and you will work insanely long hours, but it’s definitely a lucrative career choice.
Here at Consulting.com, we focus on helping everyday people escape the corporate grind and develop their own independent consulting businesses. We’ve spent the last few years refining a reliable system for bringing in high-ticket consulting clients: a system over 3,000 of our students have used to successfully launch full-time independent consulting businesses.
If you’d like to get in on the action, click below to sign up for our 100% free webinar training.