The Best Consulting Firms To Work For


It’s no secret why MBAs gravitate to consulting. The McKinseys and Deloittes can sure make a strong pitch. They can point to six-figure salaries, glamorous travel, assignment variety, and access to decision-makers. If you’re hungry and single go-getter, consulting is a dream job!  That’s why over a quarter of MBAs from Yale, Kellogg, Fuqua, Ross, Sloan, Booth, and Tuck are drawn to the field.

But consulting does come with some downsides. Hectic schedules and long abscences can leave little time for loved ones. You’re just as likely to travel to Brownsville as Berlin. Never forget: Consultants have more influence than authority.

Like any field, consulting has its share of burn outs and broken relationships. But it also employs secure and dedicated professionals who are deeply involved in their families and communities. While their jobs are still demanding, many work for firms that respect their time and boundaries. As a result, these firms attract the MBA and undergrad talent.


And that’s certainly true of the top firms according to the Consulting 50 ranking. In a survey covering variables like prestige, diversity, compensation, and quality of life, the usual suspects – McKinsey, BCG, Bain, and Deloitte – topped the various Consulting 50 “Best of” lists.


The ranking was conducted by Vault, which provides market intelligence, rankings, and ratings based on data collected from employers and professionals. It was based on survey responses from roughly 8,500 North American consulting professionals. Using a scale from 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest score), respondents were asked to assess the prestige of the firms with whom they were familiar (which carried a 30% weight in the ranking). In addition, respondents evaluated their own firm in the areas of firm culture (15%), overall satisfaction (15%), compensation (15%), work-life balance (10%), business outlook (10%), and promotion policies (5%).

In addition, Vault broke down MBA satisfaction levels in consulting firms in a variety of quality of life categories.



On every measure – except philanthropy and travel requirements – MBAs were more satisfied than the sample in their consulting work. In particular, MBAs scored higher satisfaction in benefits (8.045 vs. 7.371) and international opportunities (7.596 vs. 6.816). They reserved their highest scores for overall business outlook (8.987), client interaction (8.938), ability to challenge (8.772), and firm leadership (8.699). In contrast, they gave the lowest scores to international opportunities (7.596), internal mobility (7.702), and hours in the office (7.741).

MBAs were also generally happier than their peers who held just a Bachelor’s degree. This was particularly true in their ability to challenge (8.772 vs. 8.403), interaction with clients (8.938 vs. 8.45), internal mobility (7.702 vs. 7.204), international opportunities (7.596 vs. 6.285), and promotion policies (7.936 vs. 7.656). In fact, the only category where Bachelor’s degree holders scored higher satisfaction was in philanthropy.


From 2011-2013, Bain & Company topped the Vault Consulting 50 rankings. Drawing heavily from Harvard, Wharton and Kellogg MBAs, Bain had built an enviable client list and reputation. In 2014, it was replaced at #1 by McKinsey & Company, by .17 points on a 10 point scale. This year, Bain returned to the summit, edging out McKinsey by a mere .03 points (and BCG by .18 points).

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.