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4 Reasons Why The Big 4 Pay Less

You already know that the Big 4 firms (PwC, Deloitte, EY, KPMG) are highly prestigious. While working for any of these companies, your career gets flying. But the pay they offer is less (which might make you wonder why). 

I spent some time researching and found out that the pay of the Big 4 firms is not that great! The reason behind this is that they invest a lot of money in your training so that you can enhance your skills for the job (this benefits the company and you). The Big 4 firms try to cover the costs of the training programs by paying you less. 

In today’s read, I’ll dig deeper to reveal:

  • Main reasons why the Big 4 pay less
  • Do the Big 4 firms offer other benefits to cover their low pay? 
Title with image of Boston Harbor - stating '4 Reasons why The Big 4 Pay Less'

Does Big 4 Pay Less?  

Big 4 companies provide you with an excellent training ground for a successful career ahead. (Source)

But these firms pay less, and I’ll share below some of the reasons:

1. Training Programs Cost Money

To help you learn the do’s and don’ts, Big 4 companies offer many training programs. Sadly, they come at a cost because the companies invest a lot of money in them. (Source)

There’s no doubt that you learn new things (all thanks to the training programs), but you end up being paid far less when compared to other industries. (Source

But here’s the thing: The training and development programs enhance your skills. So, when you see your future from a broader mindset, it’s all a part of a solid investment. This will definitely reap benefits that you may not expect today!

If I have to give you an example, then Deloitte’s Emerging Leaders Development Program (ELDP) should be the one worth mentioning!  

It helps make future leaders by offering:

  • Training sessions
  • Self-assessment (where you figure out what you’re good at) 
  • Feedback from all directions (from your colleagues and bosses)
  • Personal coaching (with an expert)


2. Don’t Get Paid For Overtime 

In Big 4 firms, the salary is fixed. This means you’ll spend more than the usual 40 hours a week in the office but don’t get the pay for the extra hard work that you’ve put in. (Source)

But the Big 4 firms are all about their reputation and fame. They also care a lot about you. That’s why these companies pay you in other forms by going out of their way!

Here is an example: PwC offers you the Student Loan Paydown (SLP). The firm knows that many associates and senior associates have student loans that might be heavy on them. 

Through the SLP benefit, you could get up to $1,200 each year to pay off your student loans. This monetary help reduces your overall debt amount by as much as $10,000 and helps you finish paying it off three years earlier. (Source)

In my opinion, even if PwC pays you less, it’s still doing the best for you! And the rest of the Big 4 firms are giving the same kind of benefits, too!

Downtown New York City seen from above

3. Lower Pay in the Early Years 

Big 4 firms are always looking forward to building long-term relationships with you. They may not pay you a lot at the start. As a freshie, you’ll have to earn everything. (Source)

These companies believe that as you work with them, you’ll grow and move up the career ladder. And (eventually) the salary will increase. No matter what, in the start, you’ll have to compromise for a brighter future!

But these firms give you some amazing perks that make you want to stick around because there’s so much more to look forward to.

Take EY, for example. The firm has a Wellbeing Fund. It covers a whopping 75% of the cost of gym memberships, exercise gear, comfy home office furniture, and more (up to $1,000 a year).

And it doesn’t stop there. If you ever need a second opinion on a health diagnosis or expert advice on a treatment plan, 2nd.MD program has your back. 

It gives you and your family access to top-notch doctors from some of the best medical institutions in the US (all at no extra cost). (Source)

If you’re not satisfied working at the Big 4 firms (because of low pay), you can go anywhere else! But, obviously, you’ll not enjoy such benefits at other places, no matter how hard you try. 

4. Higher the Demand, Lower the Pay

Many professionals want to work at one of the Big 4 companies just for the sake of experience. 

Although these companies welcome most of you with open arms, they can’t pay everyone a high salary. So, while the experience you gain is gold, the paycheck might not always be the shiniest. (Source)

And here’s the point to note! If you’re willing to work in the Big 4 companies, you’ll have many other benefits in mind (apart from just salary). These firms are known to provide you with excellent perks that help you overlook the pay.

Another example is KPMG, which offers this amazing benefit called the WageWorks mass transit program. With this, you can use pre-tax payroll deductions to save money on your transit and vanpool expenses. 

It’s like getting a discount on your commuting costs! If you sign up, you can choose to have up to $270 a month taken out of your paycheck before taxes to cover your transit expenses.

And there’s more! KPMG also has Park for Less. It lets you use pre-tax dollars to pay for parking expenses. (Source)

Now, I’m sure that other Big 4 companies also have the same kind of benefits to help cover the low salaries. 

A consultant working at KPMG wrote on Glassdoor: “Working at KPMG has been a unique journey for me, and despite a low salary, the overall experience has been incredibly rewarding. Beyond the financial aspect, the experience gained at KPMG has been truly invaluable. (Source)

In the end, here is a table that shows you the pay of senior consultants at each of the Big 4 firms:

Big 4 FirmsSenior Consultant’s Pay Per Year



  • Martin Williams

    Martin Williams worked as a Lead Educational Consultant for Early Impact for 5 years. He has also worked as a journalist, and is the owner of several online publications.