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Management Consultant Salary: How much do I earn as a consultant?

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The consulting industry is soaring. More than 184,000 consultants now work in the approximately 26,000 consulting firms in Germany – and the trend is rising. This is not surprising, as the need for consulting is currently enormous due to the advancing digital transformation.

To meet this demand, management consultancies are increasingly recruiting new candidates and are also prepared to dig deeper into their personnel coffers when it comes to remuneration. This, of course, makes the consulting profession all the more popular among young graduates. This trend also benefits management consultants who are looking for a change within the industry.

If you want to enter, change or leave management consulting, you are probably interested in what your salary will be in the process. In this article we will tell you everything you need to know about the salary of a management consultant, how it is structured and what factors influence it.

This is how much you earn as a consultant

The average salary of management consultants in Germany is approximately 74,602 euros gross per year (Glassdoor, January 2023). For young professionals, this is around 52,000 euros(BDU). But these are only sweeping averages. The salary range in consulting is enormous, from less than 30,000 euros to over 780,000 euros per year( CONSULTING.de, salary study, 2017).

Unternehmensberater Gehalt Übersicht
Distribution of total salary with median and quartiles; salaried consultants; n=949

How can such salary fluctuations of over half a million euros occur? To be able to answer this question, many different influencing factors have to be taken into account, which play an important role in your salary. Depending on which profile you bring with you, which company and office you work for and what career level you are at, your salary may vary. Therefore, it is difficult to make an accurate salary forecast for you.

In this article we want to give you salary ranges as a guideline, but above all we want to explain to you how your salary as a consultant is structured, what it depends on and how it can develop in the course of, during and after your consulting career. We also recommend that you try out the following salary calculators to calculate your salary more accurately:

  • Glassdoor: Salary calculator by location and company
  • GehaltsReporter.de: Salary calculator by work experience and location
  • Salary analysis: salary calculator for consultants in Switzerland with the possibility to filter by state, gender and qualification

How is the salary of a management consultant structured?

First of all, it is important to understand how your salary as a management consultant is structured.
Usually it consists of three main components:

Die Drei Hauptbestandteile des Unternehmerberater Gehalts - consultingheads
Shares (in %) of various salary components in total salary; salaried consultants; n=949

Fixed salary

The fixed salary makes up about 78% of your total salary and is paid to you monthly, regardless of your performance. All salary components that are firmly planned and regulated in the employment contract count as part of the fixed salary. This depends on a number of factors that you can only influence to a limited extent.

According to the BDU , the Christmas bonus or thirteenth salary is also part of the fixed salary at most consultancies. You will receive this additionally in December or January together with your monthly salary. If you’re lucky, you’ll also get a vacation bonus paid to you just before summertime.

Variable salary

In consulting, variable components in the form of bonus payments are common. These are linked to specific events and are determined in the annual meetings with your supervisor. These may include, for example, the following factors:

  • You have achieved your personal goals for the year, such as completing an important project, receiving a continuing education certificate, or publishing a text.
  • Your company has achieved its business goals, such as a certain percentage growth or revenue.
  • You have contributed to the company’s success with special achievements, such as acquiring a new customer or recommending an employee.

The higher the professional responsibility, the higher the variable compensation. This is clearly shown on the following chart. For example, a consultant without a managerial position receives a variable component of around EUR 6,000 per year, which represents a 10% increase in his or her salary, assuming good performance. Consultants who take on more responsibility, such as project acquisition and contract negotiation, can expect a salary increase of more than 20% in the best case, earning up to 30,000 euros more per year.

Unternehmensberater Gehalt - Vaiable Vergütung nach Hauptaufgabenbereich - consultingheads
Variable salary components; total: n=885; with variable salary components: n=747

Additional services

Fringe benefits are not always contractually defined and are therefore often not included when calculating salary. However, if you add them up, you’ll find that it adds up to quite a sum. You can benefit from many additional benefits privately (for example, the company car) or even in the long term after your consulting exit (for example, the financed further training).

Here are some additional benefits which are common in the consulting industry:

  • Office equipment: pocket diaries, ergonomic office furniture
  • Technical equipment: company laptop, smartphone, video conferencing software, etc.
  • Mobility benefits: Company car, BahnCard, local transport ticket, travel allowances.
  • Continuing education opportunities: Language course, trainings, certificates
  • Supplementary benefits: Pension plan, childcare
  • Well-being benefits: Canteen meals, meal allowance, fruit and drinks in the office, gym discounts.
  • Special conditions: Hotel chain discounts, discounts at selected retailers.
Unternehmensberater Gehalt - Zusatzleistung: Dienstwagen - consultingheads
Additional benefit: Company car; n=885

What are the influencing factors in the salary for management consultants?

When you enter consulting, salary negotiations are not common at most firms. However, there are some factors and decisions that can influence your salary, both before and during your career. Flexibility in the location of your workplace, a specific and above all very good degree can be advantageous for you, for example. But let’s take a closer look at what factors influence the salary for management consultants.

Study

If you are a young professional, both your degree and your field of study play a decisive role in your salary. Logically, the higher your degree, the higher your starting salary.

(Source: CONSULTING.de, salary study, 2017)

Depending on the field of study, the starting salary can also differ. Natural scientists are particularly popular, with an average salary of 65,000 euros gross per year. This is followed by lawyers with 59,000 euros. Business economists, computer scientists or engineers earn an average of 55,000 euros after entering consulting.

(Source: GehaltsReport.de; 2020)

Degree Starting salary (including bonuses, etc.)
Bachelor's degree ("Analyst")
43.000-46.000 €
Master's degree
48.000-66.000 €
MBA/PhD
55.000-76.000 €

Work experience

If you decide to move within the consulting industry and thus bring consulting experience with you, you increase your chances of a higher salary. Of course, your employer will benefit from the fact that you have acquired a professional demeanor through your first experiences and can handle difficult situations better than a novice.

Entry level Starting salary
Junior Consultant
Ø € 54.000
Senior Consultant
Ø € 69.000
Manager
Ø € 87.000

(Source: bdu.de BDU Study: Compensation in Management Consulting 2021)

See also: Salary calculator by work experience and location. In strategy consulting, for example, salaries are significantly higher.

Management responsibility

Whether or not you take on management responsibility is one of the biggest factors influencing your salary. For managing directors, for example, the average annual salary is around 146,000 euros per year. For other consultants, the following guidelines apply:

Unternehmensberater Gehalt nach Berufserfahrung und Führungsverantwortung - consultingheads
Annual gross fixed salary; n=949;

In the above graph, it is noticeable that the mean or average value is higher than the median value for all salary values. This difference is particularly noticeable with advancing professional experience of the consultants. This indicates a few outliers that are quite a bit higher than the other content values.

Career Stage

Once you’ve made it into consulting, you can start climbing the career ladder. Regular career jumps including salary increases usually take place every two to three years in the large MBB consultancies. In smaller consultations, the time intervals may be somewhat longer.

In addition, you have semi-annual feedback sessions with your boss. This gives you the opportunity to bring forward the next promotion if you can demonstrate special achievements such as the acquisition of a large mandate.

Annual gross fixed salary by career level (excluding managing director)

Career Stage Median (without PV) Median (with PV)
Junior Consultant/Junior Associate/Analyst
49.820 €
-
Consultant
56.180 €
60.420 €
Senior Consultant
68.900 €
79.500 €
Manager/Senior Manager/Associate Partner
90.100 €
116.600 €
Partner/Principal (Owner/Managing Director)
-
148.400 €

(Source: GehaltsReporter.de; 2020)

Location

The location of the consultancy you work for also influences your salary level. The more attractive the location of your company, the better the chances of very good pay (though the harder it is to get into those offices). In metropolitan cities such as Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich, salaries are generally above average. In small towns, especially in eastern Germany, the salary is significantly lower.

Just as in other professions, salary levels also vary by state. Therefore, take a look at the overview of average annual salaries for management consultants, broken down by federal state:

State Annual salary
Hesse
82.600 €
Baden-Württemberg
82.600 €
Hamburg
79.400 €
Bavaria
78.900 €
North Rhine-Westphalia
77.400 €
Rhineland-Palatinate
75.600 €
Bremen
73.700 €
Saarland
72.900 €
Berlin
70.300 €
Lower Saxony
70.100 €
Schleswig-Holstein
68.400 €
Thuringia
63.100 €
Saxony
62.400 €
Brandenburg
61.100 €
Saxony-Anhalt
60.500 €
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
58.800 €

(Source: Studyflix.com; 2022)

Company

The larger the consultancy, the higher the salaries of the consultants. Consultancies can be broadly divided into the following salary categories:

Company type Fixed annual salary for entry-level employees
MBB, Roland Berger
90.000-110.000 €
Top consulting, Big Four
50.000-56.000 €
In-house consulting
55.000-74.000 €
Smaller consulting (5-20 employees)
48.000-57.000 €

Source: GehaltsReporter.de; 2020

MBB/Tier 1 consultancies

At the strategy consultancies MBB (McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and Bain), the salary for entry-level employees is about 15 to 30 percent higher than the average. Similar salaries are also paid at Tier 1 consultancies such as Roland Berger.

Level Experience Tier 1 consulting
Consultant
Beginner Min.
74.200 € - 106.000 €
Senior Consultant
Beginner Max.
84.800 € - 148.400 €
Manager
After 5 years
159.000 € - 190.800 €
Senior Manager
After 5-7 years
190.800 € - 265.000 €
Partner
>10 years
Over € 318,000

Source: Kienbaum study (from GehaltsReporter.de; 2020)

"Big Four" and other top consultancies

At the “Big Four” and other top consultancies, the average annual salary is around 50,000 to 56,000 euros. The “Big Four” include KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Deloitte and Ernst & Young. They are the four largest accounting firms that now have an ever-increasing focus on consulting. Simon-Kucher & Partners, Capgemini Invent and BearingPoint are examples of other top consultancies.

In-house consulting

This is followed by in-house consultancies, which are known for somewhat more modest salaries, but also for a better work-life balance and fewer working hours per week. Examples are:

Function Min. Fix Max. Fix Ø Bonus Ø Total
Consultant
55.120 €
74.200 €
10.600 €
63.600 € - 84.800 €
Project Manager
79.500 €
116.600 €
15.900 €
95.400 € - 132.500 €
Principal/ Senior Manager
100.700 €
143.100 €
26.500 €
127.200 € - 148.400 €
Partner/ VP
127.200 €
180.200 €
42.400 €
169.600 € - 212.000 €

Source: Kienbaum study (from GehaltsReporter.de; 2020)

Smaller consultancies (5-20 employees)

According to the Federal Association of German Management Consultants (BDU), nine out of ten consultancies in Germany are smaller providers with annual sales of less than one million euros. For this type of company, the average salary is the lowest, ranging from approximately 42,000 to 48,000 euros.

Branch

The last factor influencing your salary as a management consultant is the industry in which you consult. Personnel consultants, for example, earn considerably less than strategy consultants. The following table gives you a rough overview of the annual gross fixed salaries by consulting field:

Annual gross fixed salary by consulting field (excluding managing director)

Consulting field Median (without PV) Median (with PV)
Strategy and corporate governance
76.055 €
114.083 €
Organization/Processes/Project Management
70.623 €
92.353 €
IT/Software/Information Management
65.190 €
97.785 €
Industry/Technologies/Engineering Services/Logistics
65.190 €
97.785 €
SAP
59.758 €
92.353 €
Personal
54.325 €
86.920 €

Source: GehaltsReporter.de; 2020

How much will I earn after leaving consulting?

In the Dax companies, such as Allianz or Deutsche Post, a large proportion of the board members are former MBB consultants. As a consultant, many doors are open to you after your consulting exit. From project manager to board member – salaries can vary just as widely as in consulting itself. It depends on your job and similar to the influencing factors mentioned above.

Unfortunately, since there are no known studies on salary after exit, we have analyzed our data for you to still give you an educated guess. For the salary preferences of our consultingheads-members who are interested in leaving consulting, we can give you a good insight:

Average salary preferences for full-time positions

Work experience Minimum gross salary per year
1-3 years
~ 65.000 €
3-5 years
~ 79.000 €
5-8 years
~ 91.000 €
8-11 years
~ 123.000 €
11+ years
~ 140.000 €

Salary preferences of consultingheads users for full-time positions by work experience; n=2110; source: consultingheads.

The numerous jobs on consultingheads from our corporate partners who are looking for candidates with consulting experience give us a similar impression:

Average salary ranges of full-time jobs by work experience

Work experience Minimum Maximum
0-3 years
~ 59.000 €
~ 72.000 €
3-5 years
~ 71.000 €
~ 93.000 €
5+ years
~ 85.000 €
~ 96.000 €

Salary ranges of full-time jobs on consultingheads by desired work experience; n=100; source: consultingheads.

The exit to the corporation promises the highest salary, followed by the medium-sized company and start-ups:

Average salary ranges of full-time jobs by company type

Company type Minimum Maximum
Group
~ 77.000 €
~ 91.000 €
Medium-sized company
~ 71.000 €
~ 89.000 €
Start-up (growth phase)
~ 57.000 €
~ 72.000 €

Salary ranges of full-time jobs on consultingheads by company type; n=100; source: consultingheads.

Unternehmensberater Gehalt: Übersicht des richtigen Exits – consultingheads
An overview and assessment of the various exit options according to security, responsibility, prestige, salary, work-life balance and flexibility. Also includes typical positions and the ideal time to exit.

Salary in freelance consulting

More and more consultants are making the decision to enter the freelance consulting business. To become a successful freelancer, good preparation is important. For that, feel free to check out our guide for aspiring freelance consultants. Here we have already discussed the daily rate for freelance consultants. The daily rate of the projects we arrange through consultingheads is on average between 700 and 1.500 Euro. It depends on your expertise and work experience.

Your annual salary is determined by the number and duration of your projects. According to Consulting.de, freelance consultants charge a median of 150 days per year. With good acquisition, you can expect annual earnings of between 100,000 and 150,000 euros.

Work experience Ø Daily rate Min. Ø Daily rate Max.
Beginner
500 €
700 €
5-10 years experience
700 €
1.200 €
Top expert
1.200 €
1.800 €

Why do management consultants earn "so much"?

As a management consultant, you have probably been confronted with the prejudices of your profession. “Consultants are overpaid and tell managers what the employee:s already know anyway.” But the “high” salary is justified when you consider the price that management consultants pay for their salary. There are three reasons that explain the salary of consultants:

  1. A consultant contributes considerably to the annual turnover of a management consultancy. The daily rate that the corporate client actually pays for consultants ranges up to 5,000 euros for large strategy consultancies. As a consultant, you will only be paid a small part of this.
  2. Overtime often occurs at a high rate in the industry, but is rarely paid. Most consultants dream of a 40-hour week. Ten hours of overtime per week are the average standard and a 60- to sometimes even 90-hour week is not uncommon. Calculated on the number of hours, the salary then no longer looks so spectacular.
  3. The consulting profession involves a lot of travel, which ultimately means that your free time is also sacrificed. As a consultant, you may have to spend entire weekends at the location of your project, and if you do make it home for the weekend, it’s off to the airport at 5 a.m. on Monday morning.
Unternehmensberater Gehalt: Mehrarbeit nach Führungsverantwortung
Number of overtime hours per week for all respondents in full-time positions; n=911.

Sources:
Richter, M. (CONSULTING.de; 2017): “Salary Study 2017” Accessed at: https://www.consulting.de/gehaltsstudie/

Schulz, C. (Consulting-Life.de): “Finally decoded – the management consultant salary” Accessed at: https://www.consulting-life.de/endlich-entschluesselt-das-unternehmensberater-gehalt/

Salary reporter (GehaltsReporter.de; 2018, 2020): “What is the salary of a management consultant (m/f)?” Accessed at: https://gehaltsreporter.de/gehaelter-von-a-bis-z/fuehrungskraefte-stabsfunktionen/unternehmensberater/

Studyflix (Studyflix.com; 2022): “Management consultant salary by state” Accessed at: https://studyflix.de/jobs/berufe/unternehmensberater-4594/gehalt