I am new here and I am not sure if this type of question is allowed but I do need some advice. I hold a PhD in technical science and have international appearances (UC Berkeley, Stanford) and publications. I am also working currently as a postdoc with two affiliations and also as an irregular consultant at an AI company.

I had an excellent interview (as they acknowledged) with a consulting company in the UK. I do expect an offer from them judged by my performance in the interview. The HR interview though did not end as well in regards to my salary expectation (they mentioned it was too high).

I asked for 50-60K GBP which for a PhD with postdoc experience seems to be reasonable. Nevertheless they told me they will not offer more than 35-40K GBP. There is no signing bonus or relocation benefits.

  • Note that even one of my current postdoc compensations is a higher figure while the salary this company offers is similar or worse than a UK postdoc. Overall my income would decrease a lot.

A simple Google search (https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2014/09/science-careers-guide-consulting-careers-phd-scientists) reveals that entry PhD consultants do enjoy much better salaries and many bonuses.

So my question is, especially for people knowing the UK market, if I am unreasonable or if they are low-balling me?

  • I hope you dont mind that I corrected a couple of grammatical errors in your question.. ;) For clarification - are you an UK-citizen?
    – iLuvLogix
    Dec 15, 2020 at 10:26
  • @iLuvLogix Thanks. I am not a UK citizen, rather an EEA/EU citizen.
    – Marion
    Dec 15, 2020 at 14:37
  • 2
    That definitely sounds like a paltry offer but maybe they're not looking for someone of PhD caliber. If this is an entry-level position then expect the high end of entry-level pay. I would keep job hunting unless you're desperate for a job right this moment.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Dec 15, 2020 at 19:29
  • I think it's probably heavily field/location dependent. But as a general comment the value of the pound has dropped over the last 5 years or so and salaries haven't changed much so UK salaries tend to look quite bad compared internationally.
    – DavidW
    Dec 15, 2020 at 20:43
  • @alephzero, that's a bit over-dramatic. In my view entry-level consultant is a good first job for a smart, well-educated young person that doesn't know what they want out of a career yet. It usually doesn't last too long, as people figure out what they want to do and leave. It's not rocket science stuff, it's just a job, nothing special about it but it's better suited for younger people because the travel might be too punishing for others.
    – teego1967
    Dec 16, 2020 at 0:51

4 Answers 4


A simple Google search (https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2014/09/science-careers-guide-consulting-careers-phd-scientists) reveals that entry PhD consultants do enjoy much better salaries and many bonuses.

This article is from 6 years ago and talking about US market - it's about as relevant to mid-covid UK as random episode of Dilbert. Amusing at best :P.

So my question is, especially for people knowing the UK market, if I am unreasonable or if they are lowballing me?

Impossible to say. If you don't have other higher offers, that's likely what you can get, and if you don't have other offers, it is impossible to say. So keep on job hunting and get a good feel of the market. Or if you've been at it a while and that's the only offer you've managed to squeeze out, it may just be what it is. Gotta figure out for yourself how much longer you can afford to job hunt, and when you may have to settle for whatever you can get.

  • 2
    Yes, keep job searching, this is just one company not the whole job market. An offer of half of what you asked for shouldn't be accepted without further strong negotiating or it leaves you in a very weak position.
    – Kilisi
    Dec 15, 2020 at 10:52
  • @TymoteuszPaul Thanks. This article is from 6 years ago but I found many more, older and much newer that also have much higher figures. I was not applying for jobs, I just happened to apply long time ago for this one. I do have a decent research position with good prospects for international publications in Machine Learning and AI journals etc. So, I do not need a job right now and they know it. Still, the HR person (unexperienced in my opinion, without ability to understand my skills) mentioned what I said above.
    – Marion
    Dec 15, 2020 at 11:38

If you mean one of the big consulting companies, the salaries for juniors are normally quite standardized according to the grade you start at. And classification to a certain grade tends to be quite rigid too, although you can try your luck trying to influence it.

If you mean generalist consulting, at least in continental Europe, there are just 4 companies that pay really good money. It's McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Kearney. The competition to get these positions is huge.

Then you have the "mass" consulting, among others advisories within EY, PwC, Accenture, KPMG. They are much less competitive. It depends on the country and team of course but generally they don't pay well. You can end up working typical consulting hours (meaning: working a lot) and getting a salary you would get while working for a non-consulting company and sleeping in your own bed.

These companies don't normally offer much benefits for advanced degrees (at least in my country they just distinguish between candidates with B.A.s and M.A.s, a Ph.D. and everything above is treated as an M.A.).

"Consulting" is a huge industry and any generalizations are difficult. If you want to negotiate, you might have more luck at smaller consultancies.

  • 1
    A really informative answer, +100
    – Fattie
    Dec 15, 2020 at 14:48
  • No, its not as a big company and it focuses on product development rather than services. I would be hired for mathematical modelling and AI purposes I guess.
    – Marion
    Dec 15, 2020 at 20:11
  • 4
    "I would be hired for mathematical modelling and AI purposes I guess." You're not sure what you'd be hired to do? Dec 15, 2020 at 21:27

the HR person [...] without ability to understand my skills

It is not their job to understand your skills; that's what the technical interviewers are expected to accomplish. The company rarely pays for your particular skills; they normally pay for a general set of skills required to perform a job role. Clearly they value the latter set of skills less than you value the former, in other words, you are what they call overqualified for the role.


I would say you're being wildly optimistic, unless you have a specific skill set they need. According to https://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Postdoctoral_Research_Associate/Salary the median salary for a UK postdoc is about £33k. You're being offered a higher salary in industry, which is common. What you're asking for is what I would expect for someone with several years of experience in industry.

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