Management consultants make good money. They should not complain. If you look at the 2014 MBA graduation statistics of Harvard, Kellogg, Virginia, or Duke, you will see newly minted MBAs making about $135K + $25K of signing bonus if they go into consulting. It is no wonder that it is one of the chosen careers of MBA graduates. You get a chance to do interesting work, and pay off some of that school debt. Not incidentally, consulting firms are also more likely to sponsor H1B candidates.
Top strategy consultants do well. In a 2015 compensation study here by the executive search firm called Charles Aris, it shows a sample of the exceptional salaries offered by the most prestigious strategy consulting firms (McKinsey, Bain, BCG). These folks have the good fortune of making $230K+ in total compensation after 5-7 years post MBA. This same information can easily be confirmed at www.glassdoor.com where employees freely (and anonymously) input their salary information.
Up or Out. Most people stay in consulting between 3-5 years. Part of it is by choice, and part of it is be design. There is a system called “up or out” which means that you are either promoted, or you are asked to leave. Lots of reasons for this, but one of the net effects is that the people who stay (and are promoted) continue to make good money. In the same compensation survey, you can see the expected career progression and timeline. In most firms, less than 10% make it all the way to partner.
Money is not everything. There is a running joke that most long-time consultants have broken families. Like any stereotype, it is a little bit true. You cannot travel 80% of the time (M-TH) and expect that to not affect your home life. From my perspective, we all go through seasons in our life and there are times when this lifestyle fits and sometimes it does not. No harm, no foul.
A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business. -Henry Ford
My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time. -Steve Jobs
Professionals are motivated by more than money. It’s the chance to make a difference, work with super-smart people, learn daily, and grow as an executive. Consultants have wanderlust and like go to new places. We like being jack-of-all-trades. It’s fun to work on new problems, even blogging after midnight.
Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for the love of it. – Henry David Thoreau
PS (1/30/2016): The 2016 compensation study just came out from Charles Aris.