From suggesting technological solutions that transform a business to advising companies on their financial strategy, consulting graduate schemes provide you with the platform to work with a range of clients in your chosen sector
What consulting graduate schemes are available?
Most consultancy graduate schemes last two to three years (but they can be as long as five), with programmes typically defined by their area of specialism. The exact duration and structure will be determined by the requirements of the firm.
Consultants are needed in:
- accountancy and tax
- banking and finance
- business management - see management consultant
- digital marketing
- environment and sustainability - see environment consultant
- IT - see IT consultant
- transport and logistics.
Which firms run consultancy graduate schemes?
Formal consultancy graduate schemes are provided by a number of large, well-known organisations, such as:
What will I do on the scheme?
By joining a graduate programme you'll gain access-all-areas insight into how organisations operate on a day-to-day basis, providing a depth of knowledge of, and experience in, your chosen industry.
As a consultant, you'll learn how to quickly build relationships and develop your problem-solving, stakeholder management and communication skills, which are all invaluable in any career you choose. You may even get to study towards a professional qualification.
For instance, as a graduate on KPMG's three-year Operational Transformation Graduate Programme you'll develop your commercial understanding and business acumen as you support businesses in transforming their operations. You'll do this by providing your clients with data-driven insights and technological solutions as you get to work within specific functions such as front office, supply chain and procurement, compliance or risk.
As you become more experienced in the role you'll study towards the CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) Certificate qualification via distance learning. This approach ensures that you get to study at your own pace and put into practice the technical knowledge gained through the course in your day job.
On the FDM Business Consulting Graduate Scheme, successful candidates get to choose between the risk, regulation and compliance or business consultant pathways. They lead to roles as either a project support officer (PSO) or business analyst.
Business analysts offer critical insight into the design, development and delivery of projects that can help to improve or grow the business, while PSOs organise programmes as well as getting to coordinate people as they work with project managers on delivering efficient and effective projects across the company.
What are the entry requirements?
Most consulting graduate schemes aim to attract high academic achievers. You'll typically need:
- A 2:1 undergraduate qualification - Some organisations ask for a related degree, but this isn't always the case. You'll find that Accenture, Fujitsu, KPMG and PwC welcome applications from graduates of any degree discipline. Employers such as Arcadis and FDM Group ask for a 2:2 in any subject.
- A strong and demonstrable interest in your chosen sector/organisation - Being passionate and knowledgeable about the area you're working in can improve the quality of your work and strengthen your problem-solving abilities.
- Language ability - Due to the international nature of many large companies, knowledge of a second language can be an advantage but is not essential.
- A willingness to travel - Consulting careers usually require a fair amount of travel and it's possible that you may need to relocate, nationally or internationally, and work from home for extended periods.
Whichever sector you work in, you'll need to be an excellent communicator, highly organised and able to manage your workload - find out more about the skills that employers want.
What skills will I need?
Whichever sector you work in, you'll find that consultants require an inquisitive mind and a passion for learning and growing. They have a flair for problem solving and an analytical mind. By having these attributes, you'll quickly get to grips with analysing an organisation and work to improve its business performance.
A career in consulting will fit those keen to make a difference to businesses and communities, those who can collaborate well, and those interested in using new technology to solve problems.
Finally, you'll need to be an excellent communicator, highly organised and able to manage your workload.
When and how should I apply?
Employer recruitment processes can vary, but the majority of graduate scheme applications are made online, with forms typically accepted from around October until December or early in the new year, in preparation for an August or September start date.
The first step is to fill in an application form and attach your CV. Some companies may then direct you to a situational judgement test.
If successful, the next stage of the process will likely include a telephone or video interview. You'll then attend an assessment centre, before moving on to the final interview. Depending on your preferred area of consulting and your employer, you may also need to pass numerical or psychometric tests.
With the rising popularity of consulting as a graduate career, competition for places on these programmes is fierce - so to stand out you'll need to have an understanding of the organisation you've applied to. Avoid sending generic applications; they're unlikely to prove successful. Instead, take the time to really demonstrate your suitability to the role by providing real-world examples of required competencies.
Remember to include any extra-curricular activities and relevant work experience in your application. Think about the transferable skills you possess - for example, are you part of a sports team, demonstrating long-term commitment and teamwork? Have you organised a charity event, showing creativity, leadership and responsibility? All these skills are of interest to employers.
How much will I be paid?
According to High Fliers' The Graduate Market in 2023 report, which analysed graduate starting salaries at many of the UK's major employers, consulting graduate wages are behind only those in investment banking and law.
Here's a selection of what consulting firms are offering graduates in 2024:
- Accenture - £33,500 plus a £10,000 bonus.
- Allen & Overy - £37,500 in the first year, £43,000 in the second year.
- Capgemini - £30,000, plus additional benefits.
- Newton - £49,000-£53,000, plus a £2,500 sign-on bonus.
Will I be offered a job afterwards?
While it's not true of every scheme, landing a place on a graduate programme usually opens the door to permanent employment with the firm.
After completing the scheme, you could find work in business, management, strategy, or technology consulting, depending on the nature of your training.
Find out more
- Discover what you can do with your business management degree.
- Gain an insight into business, consulting and management jobs.
- Explore management courses.