Top 10 Consultant Annual Income Ranking


Think consulting is an easy field to make money in? Think again! We’re counting down the top 10 consultants with the highest annual incomes and the results might just surprise you. It takes a lot of hard work, experience, and dedication to make it to the top on these lists, so let’s take a closer look at these impressive earners.


Consulting can be an incredibly rewarding career path with incomes among the top earners in many industries. Consulting work covers a wide range of fields, from technology and engineering to healthcare, finance and operations. More than ever, firms are turning to qualified consultants for advice on how to tackle big problems and drive growth in their business.

To help you decide which industries pay the most for consultant services, this guide provides a comprehensive overview of the top 10 highest paying annual incomes for consultants. We take an in-depth look at each sector, detailing average hourly rates as well as average annual figures, along with factors such as location, experience and certifications which can influence earning potential in the field. Read on to find out which areas offer the best return for your time and effort as a consultant.

What is Consulting?

Consulting refers to the practice of providing expert advice to individuals, organizations, or businesses in order to enable them to make better-informed decisions. This can involve various types of activities, ranging from consulting on strategy and operations management to providing technical services such as web development and software engineering.

Consultants typically specialize in specific industries or areas of expertise. They may also have a general level of expertise across multiple disciplines that allows them to provide insights and solutions for a wide range of organizations. A consultant will typically develop a specialized knowledge base through their experience with clients as well as through research, analysis and insights related to their own professional competency.

Income levels vary depending on both the size of the company being consulted, as well as the type of work that is being performed. The kinds of consulting roles available are almost limitless – from corporate consultants who offer strategic guidance and training sessions to enterprises; freelancers working independently who focus on areas like technology implementation; or contractors who offer specific specialized services such as patent drafting or legal advice. The top 10 consultancy salaries range anywhere from mid 5 figures up into six figures in some cases. It is important for consultants to be aware that their payment structure varies depending on the type of business they are working for, and how long-term their engagement with the organization is likely to be.

Types of Consulting

The types of consulting activities that can earn significant annual income vary depending on the field of expertise. Some consultants work in a variety of fields while others specialize in a particular one. While the highest paid annual salaries tend to come from corporate and strategy consulting, there are numerous other job opportunities in other industries considered to be high earners as well.

The top 10 consultant earning categories include:

  • Corporate/Strategy Consultant
  • Information Technology Consultant
  • Management/Operations Consultant
  • Marketing/Branding Consultant
  • Human Resources Consultant
  • Financial Advisor/Investment Consultant
  • Supply Chain & Logistics Management Consultants
  • Business Process Improvement Consultants
  • Executive Recruiter
  • Regulatory & Contract Compliance Professionals

Each type of consultant may have various specializations related to their field including:

  • Project Management;
  • Process Development;
  • Data Modeling;
  • Business Analysis;
  • System Integration;
  • Facilitation and Change Management;
  • Marketing Research and Customer Segmentation;
  • Human Resources Law Advice and Training Compliance Services;
  • Financial Analysis, Planning and Budgeting Consulting Services;
  • Supply Chain Optimization and Logistics Management Services related to handling of goods within a supply chain cycle;
  • Business Process Improvement Services related to improving routine processes within an organization such as workflow optimization or redesigning customer-facing outlets or back office operations systems.
  • Finally Executive Recruiting involves members who look for suitable candidates for executive positions held by organizations including board director roles in large corporations where resumes are often not posted publicly but instead sought after based upon references provided by networks for intermediary placement into higher level positions within organizations with accompanying higher salary expectations.

Factors Affecting Consultant Annual Income

Consultants’ annual income varies based on a variety of factors, including:

  • Length and type of consulting job
  • Industry and sector
  • Areas of expertise
  • Geographic location
  • Education and training credentials
  • Amount of existing competition

Length of assignments can range from short-term project based projects to ongoing part-time or full-time engagements. Industry sectors and areas of consultancy expertise will also impact income potential. Highly specialized skills such as those related to nursing or IT project management may command higher incomes than generalist roles in accounting or office administration. Geographic location can also have an effect, with cities or regions with higher costs of living associated with higher wages for similar consulting roles.

Education and training credentials can also influence an consultants annual income potential as a consultant. In addition, the amount of existing competition within any given market can play a role in determining what a consultant will receive for their services. Generally speaking, if there is a large number of consultants that possess similar skills within any given market this could lead to increased competition resulting in lower fee rates for consultants’ services.

Top 10 Consultant Annual Income Ranking

Each year, consulting firms around the world compete to be at the top of the list for the most successful and profitable companies for consultants. The potential for a consultant to earn a high salary is tremendous.

Below is a list of the ten highest-earning consulting firms based on estimated 2018 profits with each firm’s annual income listed in U.S. dollars. The rankings are based on surveys conducted by industry associations and published by research firms, so they provide only an estimate of year-end income after taxes and other expenses are subtracted from total profits.

  1. Deloitte – $18 billion
  2. Accenture – $14 billion
  3. McKinsey & Company – $10 billion
  4. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) – $9 billion
  5. Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) – $4 billion
  6. Bain & Company – $3 billion
  7. Booz & Company –$2.9 billion
  8. PwC –$2.8 billion
  9. Ernst & Young –$2.0 billion
  10. KPMG –$1.8 billion

Benefits of Consulting

When considering a career in consulting, it’s important to consider not only the potential for earnings, but also the other benefits of the industry.

One of the major benefits is flexibility. Consultants are able to select their own hours and work on their own terms. This allows more freedom than other jobs and can be especially helpful with work-life balance. Additionally, consultants often gain valuable knowledge and experience working with different clients in different industries across various job types. This broaden one’s understanding of the corporate world while potentially creating new job opportunities that require specialized skillsets.

Consultants also benefit from autonomy; they are able to make decisions independently and are free to take ownership of their methodologies and processes rather than having them dictated to them by someone else. Unconventional solutions can become more viable due to a consultant’s creative problem-solving ability, which may help clients accomplish goals that would otherwise be impossible for them alone.

Finally, since consulting firms charge by project or hourly rate rather than salary, income is variable but often higher than traditional salaried positions depending upon skill level and experience. This makes consulting an attractive option for those who have strong technical specialties or who prefer a greater sense of control over their schedule and environment in which they work.

Challenges of Consulting

Though consultants command high salaries, the job is not without its trials. Long hours, frequent business travel, and pressure to produce timely and accurate results can be challenging. Consultants may also be asked to provide services that they are not familiar with or lack experience in, which could potentially lead to difficulty generating the desired outcomes. Furthermore, many consultants are independent contractors who risk a lack of job security, benefits such as health care coverage and a retirement plan.

Relationships with clients can also be difficult to maintain due to changing political climates, organizations undergoing changes in leadership or strategy shifts. Consultants must also be able to readjust their expectations in the face of changes because their contract might change the scope of their work or timeframe for completion. The job is further complicated by ever-changing technology that can create unanticipated problems that require complex solutions.

The career path of a consultant requires an individual who is fiercely independent and adaptable—someone who enjoys a challenge accompanied by an upswing in rewards when an engagement’s goals have been met successfully. High earnings for consulting releases and rise in demand for these services makes this an attractive field for ambitious professionals willing to take calculated risks.


As this ranking of the top 10 consulting annual incomes demonstrates, consultants come from a variety of backgrounds, with some earning large salaries and others earning more modest salaries. It is important to note that average individual incomes reported here do not reflect bonuses or additional income generated outside of consulting work.

Ultimately, the ability to secure a high-paid consultant role depends on one’s aptitude and experience in their chosen field as well as their network size and access. Certain business fields such as financial or IT consulting tend to pay higher compensations than other industries such as health care or marketing consulting. It is also important to consider the geography of one’s location when considering annual incomes for each respective field, since different cities and states will offer more competitive wages for the same job role.

In conclusion, the best way for an individual to maximize their consultant income is to evaluate their strengths and interests in order to choose an industry that leverages both factors simultaneously. With this approach, a talented consultant can often find success in terms of both satisfaction and compensation.