sanity checking an offer from Booz Allen - I have a quant PhD + 5 relevant YOE, secret clearance in hand, and the exact skill set they are hiring for on the team (title is Sr data scientist, associate lvl, SIG). I told the recruiter that I was expecting $170k+, and their offer came in at $150k. My market rsch of peers in the industry indicates $180+ wouldn’t be unreasonable. They said is $155k is best and final, but this is slightly less than current comp at an FFRDC. Just how BAH rolls?

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Booz Allen typically pays lower than their peers.

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Depends on the role but yeah generally true

I would apply to Deloitte, Accenture, Guidehouse, KPMG, etc. to find true market value. Seems a little low

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Don’t apply to Guidehouse. This place sucks.

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Yeah that's pretty low. Booz pay is generally not competitive for anything below a TS/SCI that doesn't have the word "cyber" in it. Make sure the recruiter and hiring team know your current salary. If (1) you want to stay in the defense industry, (2) Booz will match or slightly beat your current salary, and (3) there's something wrong about your current position (abusive boss, bad benefits, poor job security, super boring work), then I would consider taking the offer. I doubt they will come up on the offer as it sounds like they don't have room in the contract to do so. This is a mess up on the recruiter's side as they shouldn't have gotten this far in the process only to offer you less than your current salary.

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Caveat - if you're not currently in health and this move represents a pivot to where you really want to be - and you can't get anything else in health - then it might make sense. Just be prepared for some frustrations and the Booz name will be much less useful for landing something else in health vs. defense (or even finance/industry).

Also worked at BAH, it’s a different culture fit than other consulting companies. Seconding other commenters here that they often pay less and have better WLB. I am a DoD guy with a clearance just like you

A creative question you could ask the interview team is what contract type you are being hired into. If it is cost plus, then you have the most flexibility to push higher. Once you’re in at BAH, it will be challenging to get more than 4-5% in annual bumps (and honestly it’s probably 3-4%) so now is your time to push. There’s also a chance if you’re in the SIG all your work is on overhead (not billable, not governed by a specific rate)

In my time, when the recruiter stonewalled, I bypassed them and communicated my interest directly with the Sr Associate leading the hiring. It netted me another $10K.

Just to add to your reference points, I moved to a smaller defense contractor (MTSI) from BAH and got a 20% pay bump and still only work 40-43 hours a week

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Salary seems low given your background, and I'm surprised you're not being brought in as a Lead Associate (depending on your prior work experience), despite the fact that BAH is not a pay setter in the industry.

Raises at BAH are low each year so I'll emphasize as others have said that now is the time to push.

On the plus side -- the WLB tends to be quite good. You can pretty easily get by being in "work mode" no more than 40-45 hours a week.

Also on the plus side -- BAH is still a good brand on your resume (perhaps a better brand than it deserves to be). If you don't have other offers and want to get started at a new job, Booz will be a good place to land. My guess is that If after a year or two you're frustrated it will not be difficult to jump for well over 200K.

Also, it's quite easy to manage the workload at BAH while actively looking for other jobs.

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Booz only spun off the commercial and international work in ‘08 as Booz and Co. Anyone in their 40s or older might not be aware of the different business model of the firm now. Before ‘08 it was a top firm. And BAH still does tons of extremely vital work with the military and defense agencies especially, even if it’s more operational. Also, my understanding is that in the Middle East BAH still does proper management consulting work and I believe the brand is very strong there.

They low-ball and don't give bonuses. I would move on to another opportunity.

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I wonder if you can just get something higher than BAH associate level with that background. Accenture federal is hiring aggressively if you have TS/SCI, but I think you'd have to come in at the manager level for that pay Although I think some people make that at the associate equivalent in HCOL cities.

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That's not the case for technical folks.

Ask for a sign on bonus. I work for another contractor and I actually think the offer is not that low. I manage federal contracts and if you are billable— sounds like you would be— then I doubt you would be paid higher by other companies in the same space, unless you are hired for the bench. BAH 2 — I am curious why you think this about their health side. Not what I heard but then I don’t work there and you do.

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Just wanted to say thanks for all the input, I’m really grateful for the participation in this forum! I ended up taking the offer with a signing bonus - it seems like a good and immediate pivot to try out some non defense work. We’ll see how it goes!

Thanks again, all.

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150 sounds low, but 170 is definitely on the high side for an initial offer at BAH, so the answer is in the middle. Be open to a sign on bonus, and contrary what others have said, push for a high salary at the Associate level. Get in, do well, and get a LA promotion in a year or two and you’ll end up netting more than trying to take a LA role now.

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It seems like the perfect fit in terms of skill set & the application area for the contract they’d hire me for, so it is especially frustrating that the compensation piece is not falling into place… it’s possible that it is the limitation of the contract, but doesn’t that indicate limited $$ growth as long as I’m on that team?

If you are interested in a data science role at Guidehouse, send me a DM.

Don’t go to Guidehouse. The place is horrible. This is coming from someone WITHIN the firm.

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Come to D!

Best way defend is attack: get an offer from somewhere else and see if they match.

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