Business intelligence (BI) and management consulting are two careers that, at first glance, can seem very similar.

Both involve analyzing data to provide insights and recommendations to help organizations operate more effectively. However, there are some key differences between these fields that those exploring career options should understand.

In this article, we’ll compare PowerBI consulting and management consulting across several factors:

  • Skills and background required
  • Typical work activities
  • Salary and compensation
  • Work-life balance
  • Career development and advancement

Skills and Background

Both BI and management consulting require strong analytical abilities, business acumen, and communication skills.

However, the day-to-day work looks quite different.

BI professionals tend to have more technical skills, including expertise in data science, analytics tools like Power BI, and SQL programming.

Educational backgrounds include computer science, statistics, or information systems.

Management consultants rely more on strategic problem-solving and project management skills.

Common backgrounds include business, economics, organizational psychology, or industrial engineering.

Management consultants often have MBAs.

So while both roles involve consulting and advising clients, BI consultants provide more hands-on analytics while management consultants take a broader, strategic perspective.

Typical Work Activities

The day-to-day activities of BI and management consulting professionals are very different:

  • BI consultants spend their time collecting, cleaning, and analyzing data, building dashboards and visualizations, developing analytics models, and assisting clients in implementing BI tools and strategies. They have an in-depth view of their client’s data.
  • Management consultants focus on identifying and defining issues, conducting organizational assessments, formulating solutions, project planning, guiding change management, and preparing presentations for executives. Their work is broader and more strategic.

So if you enjoy diving into the nitty gritty of data analysis, BI consulting may be a better fit. But if you prefer advising on big-picture strategies, management consulting aligns better.

PowerBI consulting

Salary and Compensation

According to Payscale, the average salaries are:

  • BI consultant: $68,600
  • Management consultant: $86,200

However, both fields offer wide compensation ranges based on experience, firm/industry, and location.

For example, management consultants at top firms like McKinsey and BCG can earn over $150,000.

Bonuses and profit sharing are common, especially for management consultants. Both roles involve travel to client sites, which can mean additional pay.

Overall compensation potential tends to be higher in management consulting.

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is achievable in both careers but often requires setting boundaries.

BI consultants tend to work standard 40-50 hour weeks.

In management consulting, 50-60+ hour weeks are common, especially during busy project periods.

Management consulting also involves more frequent business travel.

Work-life balance is highly dependent on each individual firm and team environment.

With good time management and flexibility, a healthy work-life balance can be maintained in either field.

Career Development and Advancement

Both fields offer strong potential for career development:

  • In BI, consultants can advance to data scientist, analytics manager, BI director, and C-level roles like Chief Data Officer. Some leverage their experience to switch to related areas like data engineering.
  • For management consultants, common career progressions involve moving up from analyst to manager, director and eventually partner. Some exit to industry leadership roles leveraging their strategy skills.

So while both careers offer growth potential, BI provides the opportunity to specialize and build technical expertise, while management consulting leads to general leadership and management roles.


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