How Much Do Analysts/Consultants Earn?

Financial advisor talking to customer
Andrew Olney/OJO Images/Getty Images

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has a job category called management analyst that it says is synonymous with management consultant. As of May 2012, median pay for management analysts was $78,600 and 90% earned between $44,370 and $142,580.

However, note that the field, as defined by the BLS, encompasses a number of very narrow specialties, including highly technical fields wherein the federal government is the principal client.

As a result, variation in pay is bound to be very pronounced.

Moreover, about 20% of management analysts or consultants are self-employed. Among these are veteran corporate employees who have lost jobs in layoffs, who have difficulty getting placed elsewhere (or who are trying to use a layoff as a springboard to a new career), and who style themselves as consultants to avoid the stigma of acknowledging that they are unemployed or underemployed. Most independent consultants have, at best, very modest earnings.

Pay Options

By contrast, consultants with leading firms can earn very handsome pay packages that far exceed the BLS averages. For example, according to job website GlassDoor.com, management consulting associates with the eminent strategy consulting firm McKinsey & Co. earn an average of about $150,000 per year, within a range of $120,000 to $253,000. Associates are their lowest level consultants, and usually hold an MBA or another advanced degree.

McKinsey also hires undergraduates with no prior full-time work experience into what it calls business analyst positions. They earn an average of about $84,000 per year, within a range of $59,000 to $111,000.

In the realm of Big Four consulting, GlassDoor.com reports that junior consultants at Deloitte earn total compensation packages worth an average of about $90,000 and senior consultants about $111,000.

The range is from $59,000 to $236,000. Consulting managers and partners draw even higher pay. However, there are caveats. 

Billing Practices

Consulting firms, as well as independent consultants, typically bill by the hour. This practice has many downsides, for individual consultants and consulting clients alike, and has come under attack in some quarters. For more details, please see these articles:

Job Prospects

The BLS counts 718,700 management analysts as of May 2012 and expects their ranks to grow by a very robust 19%, or 133,800 positions, from 2012 to 2022.

Work Environment

The BLS notes, correctly, that frequent travel is a typical part of the job. See our discussion of health and business travel. However, the BLS also claims that only about 25% work more than 40 hours per week. It is an understatement, at least for the most prestigious consulting firms. Work weeks of at least 60 hours are sometimes the norm, and 70 to 80 hours are not at all unusual.​

In addition to reading the above-referenced articles on billable hours and utilization rates, also see our discussions of living to work and the up or out policy.

 All these matters are of prime significance for the prospective consultant. In short, those who succeed in this field live to work and thrive under pressure.