So what would you say is a good starting salary for a consultant? There are also people who will gain a lot of work experience in an industry, get an MBA, and then hire them in a consulting firm. We looked at the numbers based on what first-year consultants actually earn based on the number of hours they can expect to work. This is the most typical way, and it's for people who know from a very young age that they want to dedicate themselves to consulting. A first-year consultant at these firms would work 11 to 14 hours a day, with an approximate schedule of 55 to 70 hours per week.
At the highest level, a consultant is nothing more than someone who is an expert in something and helps other people, whether a consultant helping a person or who is helping an organization. I have been very aggressive in requesting promotions and requesting salary adjustments when it seemed appropriate. Working with clients can be a challenge, work-life balance can be difficult to achieve, and the interview process sounds a bit intense, but at the end of the day, consulting is all about helping others. These are also large consulting firms that focus more on management consulting, specifically strategy consulting, while the “big four” are accounting firms that also offer consulting.
At other consulting firms, sometimes you'll join as an analyst, then you'll be a senior analyst and then you'll be an associate consultant. So when I heard the word consulting, and when I heard about consulting in college, those were the key firms that people were trying to get into. In the typical representation of consulting or the “big four” firms, consultants work on a project for three to six months or so. Yes, so the “big four consulting or accounting firms” are Deloitte, Ernst and Young, KPMG and PwC.
The typical path that people see in consulting is to work in a large consulting firm for two years and then do whatever else they want to do, whether that's working in a startup company or working internally in a large organization and being on the client's side. If you're working as a strategy consultant, for example, you're helping the client to develop their strategy. So I think the reason why there's a misconception that consultants get paid to “do nothing” is because they get paid a good amount of money to work on PowerPoints.