Starting MBA salaries are continuing their upward trend, growing beyond previous record-setting years, with firms boosting salaries by roughly 10% over 2022, according to Namaan Mian, COO of Management Consulted, a firm that provides data and prep materials for hiring in the consulting industry.
“Three main factors led to the salary increase,” Mian told Fortune.“Persistent inflation, retention challenges due to high pandemic-era consultant utilization, and the war for talent that played out earlier in the year between consulting, banking, and tech.”
Firms such as Bain & Company and McKinsey & Company have set their starting base salaries at $192,000, up from $175,000 in 2022, and Boston Consulting Group has implemented a similar boost from $175,000 to $190,000. Many firms, such as AlixPartners and Analysis Group, have also changed their bonus structures, lifting performance-based bonus caps to woo top performers away from other firms.
The consulting industry has continued to see top business schools, as ranked by Fortune, serve as feeders for the likes of Bain, McKinsey, and BCG. Nearly 150 students of the roughly 1,000-student Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management class of 2022 landed jobs with those firms, and Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business saw an even greater proportion of its students take jobs in the industry, with about 50% of students looking for post-graduation work landing a job in consulting.
Even though 2023 is looking to be a record-breaking year for consulting recruits, Mian anticipates a cooling-off in the intense competition for talent between the consulting industry, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street, driven by the decline in appetite for initial public offerings (IPOs) and mergers and acquisitions (M&A), which has already resulted in steep reductions in workforces at big banks. Additionally, incoming MBA cohorts appear to be smaller in the coming year, with both factors potentially indicating no salary boost for 2024’s class of graduating MBAs.
“Furthermore, a rising interest rate environment has significantly increased the cost of capital in Silicon Valley, which has led to belt tightening across Big Tech,” said Mian. “In summary, the risk of high fixed-cost salaries increased in finance and tech, which leads me to believe that salary growth for entry-level consultants will slow this upcoming year.”