It pays to be an outside corporate director. But asking, "How much?", a New York consulting firm found that board members of top industrial companies can take in as much as $22,500 just for being on the team.

Studying 90 to 100 leading industrial firms, Towers, Perrin, Forster and Crosby found that although retainer fees average $12,594, it doesn't stop there.

Fees for attending board meetings, paid by 86 percent of the companies, ranged from $250 to $1,500, and committee meeting fees ran from $200 to $1,500.

Moreover, additional remuneration is paid for heading committees and even for company-related costs of touring a plant.

Today, more companies are searching for outside directors. And under new Securities and Exchange Commission rules, fees paid to those executives must be described in proxies.

According to a spokesman for the international management consulting firm, executives who can offer the professional and community stature and level of experience that corporations want, can benefit handsomely from these positions.

The firm found that the Du Pont company, for example, pays a $16,000 retainer plus $28,000 for members of the finance committee and $90,000 for its chairman.

Exxon Corp. reports a retainer of $15,000 with $500 paid for each board and committee meeting. Bethlehem Steel shows $22,500 for its retainer but did not indicate other fees.

On the low end, McDonnell Douglas Corp. offers a $4,000 retainer, $1,000 for a board meeting and $500 for certain committee meetings.

According to the firm, if a company pays a $15,000 retainer, holds 14 regular board meetings at $1,000 each, plus $25,000 to a committee chairman and another $1,000 for attending the meeting, it can add up.