Are you considering a transition into consulting from your current job? Maybe your class peers are talking about consulting like it’s the next big thing. Either way, you might be wondering why consulting is considered such a good career by so many people.
In this article, we talk about the four main reasons why working in management consulting at top-tier firms like McKinsey, BCG, and Bain is often a number one choice for high performers.
- Consulting is a career accelerator. Working in consulting exposes you to different industries in a fast-paced environment with the brightest minds.
- Working in consulting provides high-profile exit opportunities should you choose to leave.
- Consulting offers attractive compensation packages, both in the short and long term.
Experience in consulting will shape the rest of your career
People often go into consulting for the long-term benefits it will bring to their career.
First, they might not know what they want to do yet, so experiencing a broad number of industries in a short time as a consultant is a great way to find out what you like and don’t like doing and what interests you most.
Second, consulting is the perfect accelerator for almost any career. You learn a tonne (more on that in a moment!), and by gaining the ‘resume stamp’ from McKinsey, BCG, or Bain, you’re considered a top talent, and a number of high-profile exit opportunities open to you as a result.
Third, working in top-tier consulting for a few years is a great re-orientation or pivot for most careers. For example, for people who want to go into industry after graduating with a Ph.D., consulting can be a little like doing an MBA while getting paid, and it’s a strong stepping stone into a broad range of business careers afterward.
Consulting provides an unparalleled learning opportunity
As a consultant, you experience, in just a small number of years, working in a huge variety of industries and functions on your clients’ most important and complex issues. You also work with some of the brightest minds and rarely work with the same team twice, so you have the opportunity to learn from many different people with varying skills and expertise.
The training at top consultancies is unparalleled, whether in a workshop setting or on the job. Top firms often have an ‘apprenticeship model’ to learning where managers apprentice their juniors by providing regular feedback and teaching them new skills on the job.
Consulting work is more often than not a high-pressured role where the learning curve is naturally steep compared to other industries. For a typical high achiever who wants to learn as much and as fast as possible, it’s easy to see why many want to go into consulting.
Consulting work itself is appealing
Consulting firms often talk about the impact they make on their clients, whether in terms of performance improvement, additional growth, or business transformation. As a consultant, you will often do work that will make the front page of the business newspaper or that you’ll notice the next time you shop. The variety of projects and industries you experience and the complexity of the problems you’re faced with also means you will never get bored.
Clients don’t hire consulting firms for work they could solve themselves. In essence, they hire consultants to do their most interesting work—leaving their own staff to do the more mundane stuff. As at the composition of this article, sustainability, data science, digital transformation, and supply chain excellence are some of the main areas of focus for top executives.
If you are looking for a career that will allow you to make a difference and keep you entertained, you won’t be disappointed by consulting.
Consulting compensation packages are attractive
Salaries are typically very attractive when comparing them to salaries in industry, and grow quickly the longer you stay. It is expected that consultants will make Partner eight to ten years into the job, with Partner compensation starting at around $1M.
Although the short-term compensation may not be as high as roles in finance, a career in consulting offers excellent financial prospects in the long run, unparalleled learning, great exit opportunities, and really interesting work. This is why consulting has consistently been a top choice for the most gifted individuals in the last 50 years while other trends have come and gone.
In the US, the growth aspirations of consulting firms, coupled with strong competition for talent by the tech industry, have led to increased compensation packages for applicants into McKinsey, BCG, and Bain. Pre-experience students applying to those firms can now expect a $110,000 base salary or more, while MBA hires can expect $175,000 or more.
For undergrad/MBA students and experienced professionals trying to decide between applying to or accepting offers from management consulting firms vs. other industries, take a look at our detailed comparison between a career in consulting vs. at a startup and in consulting vs. in an investment banking firm.
Interested in joining a top-tier consultancy like McKinsey, BCG, or Bain? Make sure to check out our Free Consulting Resume Courses to ensure your application is strong enough to land an interview.