How Long Does It Take to Become a Consulting Partner?

Consulting firms typically have six roles, from entry-level to partner level. Moving from one position to the next usually takes one to three years, so becoming a partner can take more than ten years, depending on your starting point and how quickly you progress. All companies have a typical length of stay for each role. For graduates, they can expect to move up to the next level within two years and then another promotion two years later.

Outstanding consultants may be able to move up faster, usually with the sponsorship of their partners and if there is a business need (for example, if there is an opening in a particular sector at a higher level). After four years with a company, consultants will reach the point of “go up or go out”.Good consultants will be promoted to management positions and those who do not meet the performance requirements will be asked to change positions or informed that they are unlikely to be promoted to the next grade (at which point the employee will likely leave voluntarily). Partners are the sales force of a consulting firm and each is expected to bring in revenue for the company. This can be confusing for clients who work with consultants and for aspiring consultants trying to understand what level they can enter the company at. Even if you don't attend one of the top business schools, it's still possible to get a job offer at a top-tier consulting firm if you have an impressive resume and a good network of contacts.

Other company alumni and individual project contacts provide consultants with a wealth of valuable business contacts. The sector is divided into the “big three” strategic consulting firms (McKinsey, Bain, BCG), the “big four” professional services firms (PwC, Ernst & Young, Deloitte and KPMG), which are mainly engaged in operations consulting (as well as auditing and accounting), and a large number of small “boutique” companies, which often specialize in a particular type of situation or topic. Career progression in the consulting pyramid is known to be competitive (and political), especially at major strategic consulting firms such as McKinsey, Bain, and BCG. While you'll spend much of your time preparing PowerPoint presentations, sending emails, and performing “routine” tasks such as creating databases, junior consultants take on responsibilities relatively quickly and work to solve challenging business problems. Many consultants will continue to dedicate themselves to consulting throughout their careers while others will use it as a stepping stone to other industries or sectors. There is an expert guide available for succeeding in the first few months and getting a quick promotion in consulting companies: consulting mentality, resource management, customer management, and work-life balance.At the management level, consultants are expected to have a good level of industry knowledge and exemplary consulting skills in order to manage both the relationship with the client and the youngest members of the team. In general, partners have been with the consulting firm for more than ten years and oversee a portfolio of different consulting projects. Consulting firms often have special hiring processes that make it easier for these candidates to apply and transition into consulting.