Which consulting firm has the highest compensation for starting analysts? Which is better for career advancement? For getting time off? Or for work life balance?

With salaries that can reach $100K for first-year analysts or even interns, competition for a spot at the top firms can be fierce, and the interviews notoriously grueling. Let’s face it. Not every aspiring consultant is going to snag a position at one of the Big Three firms – McKinsey and Company, Boston Consulting Group, or Bain & Company, known in the industry as MBB.

“There are some great other firms out there: Oliver Wyman, for example, or LEK which is a little bit smaller and has a good reputation,” Patrick Curtis, founder and CEO of Wall Street Oasis (WSO), tells Poets&Quants. “MBB is still where everyone wants to be, but the Deloittes of the world, the PwCs, they all have great practices and can provide a great career in consulting. I would tell candidates that all is not lost if they don’t fit into an MBB. They can still build a great career.”

Patrick Curtis

Patrick Curtis

WSO is an online community, news site, and career center for people working and aspiring to work in finance related fields. It has almost 900,000 registered users who report a trove of data on the companies where they work. WSO’s 2022 Consulting Industry Report takes this user-reported data to provide insight into nearly 20 different metrics job hunters would be strapped to find anywhere else: How many hours employees work per week, for example, or how fair the company is when granting promotions.


WSO’s reports are constantly changing based on new information users report to the WSO Company Database which includes more than 50,000 submissions across thousands of companies. The report we are looking at today is up-to-date as of this month and includes year-to-date data as well as data for the prior two years. Because of this, some of the latest trends reported by users won’t start showing up until later reports. (WSO uses Bayesian statistics to create percentiles for companies with few observations.)

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Read more about WSO’s report methodology here.


For aspiring consultants chasing the highest paychecks, WSO tracks average salaries and bonuses for users at all career levels. On average, based on 409 respondents, interns/summer analysts make a base salary of $60,000 per year (or about $5,000 per month) and a $7,000 bonus. First year full-time analysts make about $75,000 a year with a $10,000 bonus while principals make upwards of $211,000 per year with an average bonus of $58,000.

consulting compensation wall street oasis

Source: Wall Street Oasis 2022 Consulting Industry Report

Obviously, some firms pay more than average, others pay less. According to Wall Street Data, TresVista, a private financial services firm based in Mumbai, India, paid the one summer analyst that reported to WSO some $175,000 per year along with a $38,500 bonus.

Looking at companies that had 10 or more respondents to WSO, Boston Consulting Group paid its summer analysts (18 respondents) an average of $94,200 (or $7,850 per month) with a $40,000 bonus. Summer associates made an average of $68,800 ($5,733 monthly) with a $10,000 bonus while first-year analysts pulled in $84,700 with a $12,800 bonus.

McKinsey & Company paid summer analysts $72,100 per year ($6,008 monthly), summer associates $94,600 per year, and its first-year analysts $$83,800 with a $12,800 bonus. It was followed by the other firm in the Big Three, Bain & Company, which paid $66,700 per year ($5,558 monthly) plus a $1,000 bonus to summer analysts, $93,300 ($7,775 monthly) to summer associates, and $88,900 plus a $10,200 bonus to first-year analysts.

“We are seeing compensation going up in consultation as well, especially at the junior levels. Consulting firms do compete, not directly, but they do compete somewhat, with investment banks in recruiting top talent,” Curtis says. “So, as we’ve seen base salaries move up in banking, we are starting to see that in consulting. Not up to the $120K level, but I think at some places it’s close to $100K if it’s not $100k already.”

WSO’s data dives much deeper, also showing some very high-paying firms with far fewer respondents. You can also break its pay data down by sex and race, to see which firms live up to their DEI mantras. Pay for higher-level employees is available as well. Find the full report here.

When asked how well they are paid compared to people working similar jobs at other firms, employees at Cornerstone Research felt they were the most fairly compensated. Boston Consulting Group and Oliver Wyman employees also reported feeling well paid. (See chart below.)

consulting industry compensation

Source: Wall Street Oasis 2022 Consulting Industry Report

NEXT PAGE: Consulting firms with best opportunities for career advancement

consulting industry career advancement

Source: Wall Street Oasis 2022 Consulting Industry Report


The Company Reviews section of the WSO report provides employee perspectives on a host of metrics linked to company culture and what it’s like to actually work there. Insights are based on 30,131 user submissions about experiences and their particular firm.

For career advancement, we’ll highlight employee perceptions of four metrics: (1) their company’s professional growth opportunities, (2) overall satisfaction, (3) advancement opportunities, and (4) fairness in promotions and how people are treated. There are other metrics you can explore here.

The same five to six companies stand out at the top of each of these metrics. Sure, the MBBs are all there (McKinsey, Bain, and BCG), but delving down into these types of metrics can help find other firms with great career potential.

  • Overall Employee Satisfaction (see chart top left): Bain & Company employees report being most satisfied with their company with a percentile score 99.4%. Bain is followed by Cornerstone Research (98.8%), BCG (98.1), McKinsey & Company (97.5%), and Oliver Wyman (96.9%).

  • Professional Growth Opportunities (see chart top right): It’s Bain again at top with 99.4%, followed by McKinsey (98.8%), BCG (98.1%), Oliver Wyman (97.5%) and Alvarez Marsal (96.9%)

  • Career Advancement Opportunities (see chart bottom left): For employees feeling like their company offers advancement opportunities, The Big Three lead the pack with McKinsey at 99.4%, Bain at 98.8%, and BCG at 98.1%. Oliver Wyman is the fourth highest with 97.5% and West More Partners follows at 96.9%.

Most fair in promotions and treatment (see chart bottom right): There’s a bit movement here with Cornerstone Research leading at 99.4%, followed by Bain (98.8%), Oliver Wyman (98.1%), BCG (97.5%) and NERA Economic Consulting (96.9%). McKinsey comes in at No. 6 with 96.3%.

consulting industry career advancement

Source: Wall Street Oasis 2022 Consulting Industry Report

NEXT PAGE: Consulting firms with the best work-life balance

consulting industry work life balance

Source: Wall Street Oasis 2022 Consulting Industry Report


Happiness is relative. If money talks, working 75+ hours a week may be an acceptable part of the bargain. If the paycheck is less important, aspiring consultants might want to look for firms with better work-life balance.

You might call the metrics in this section the happiness metrics because they focus more on lifestyle questions than on career development.

If you’re looking to join Financo, a boutique investment bank based in New York City, plan to work longer than consultants at any other company. Financo respondent employees reported working an average of 87.5hours per week, 12 hours longer than the next company on the list. On the other side of the coin, employees at Booz Allen Hamilton, an information technology consulting firm based in McLean, Va., were most likely to agree that management gives them time off when needed. Booz Allen employees also believed their company was the best at promoting a balance between work and personal life.

Here’s how firms scored on four of WSO’s lifestyle metrics:

  • Hours Worked Per Week (see chart top left): Following Financo, employees at EVA Dimension and Oncology Solutions, LLC, each reported working 75 hours per week. Galt and Company employees reported working 72.5 hours while employees at ABeam, Value Partners Management Consulting, Kaufman Hall and Associations, and Accordion Partners reported working 70 hours per week. McKinsey employees, which scored the company highly in pay and career advancement metrics, reported working 69.3 hours.

  • Management Supports Needed Time Off (see chart top right): After Booz Allen, the companies scoring highly on this metric scored highly in the pay and advancement metrics as well. Cornerstone Research came in at 98.8%, followed by Olivery Wyoming (98.1%), Alvarez & Marsal (97.5%) and IBM (96.9%). McKinsey was seventh on the list at 95.7%, Bain was 14th at 91.4%, while BCG was 16th at 91.1%.

  • Best Work/Life Balance (see bottom top left): Behind Booz Allen was IBM (98.8%), Protiviti (98.1%), PricewaterCoopers (97.5%), and Alvarez & Marsal. The Big Three are in the middle or lower end of the pack at 92% for Bain, 88.8% for BCG, and 84% for McKinsey.

work life balance consulting industry

Source: Wall Street Oasis 2022 Consulting Industry Report


The post Insider Insights: Consulting Firms With The Highest Pay & Happiest Employees appeared first on Poets&Quants.

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