Is there a high barrier to enter the consulting industry? Also, how long does it usually take to get promotions at consulting companies?

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You typically need to go to a good school and have fairly good grades. Then there is an interview process. I would say it is quite competitive, yes. Different types of consulting are more competitive than others but all of them attract intelligent and hard working people.
Promotions usually every 2-3 years.

The case is more difficult than a typical interview and the academic bar is traditionally quite high (top schools) - there are always exceptions but I would still say the barriers are high.

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