About a third of U.S. households make over $100k a year. That being said, this average income may include more than one individual’s salary. The average American income distribution changes depending on a person’s race, gender, education level, and age. If you want to earn more than your current salary, try asking for a raise, learning new skills, working a side job, or using your money to build a passive income.
A six-figure salary is the dream of many. But if you don’t have a six-figure salary, you aren’t alone. The majority of American households earn less than $100,000 per year. Just around one-third of U.S. households earn $100,000 or more per year.
In this article, we’ll explore the breakdown of this metric and discuss strategies you can implement to push your own income above the six-figure mark.
How many people make over $100k in a year in the USA?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 33.6% of U.S. households earn $100,000 or more. That being said, it’s important to recognize that we’re talking about households, not individuals. Although approximately one in three households earns more than $100,000 per year, that doesn’t mean one in three full-time workers is earning six figures, as one household can include more than one income.
The median household income varies based on several factors. While a big factor is your profession, a few other factors include ethnicity and education level. Let’s take a closer look at each.
How does race impact household earnings?
The race of a household has, unfortunately, a big impact on household earnings. Though Asian households earned a median household income of $94,903, Hispanic households earned a median household income of $55,321. On the other hand, black households earned a median income of $45,870, and white households earned a median income of $71,231.
While the reasons for these disparities delve into a larger discussion of the American workforce, it’s important to recognize that these disparities exist, as you can see in the chart below.
How does gender impact household earnings?
A similar imbalance exists between men and women in the workforce. In general, men tend to earn more than women. For example, the median earnings for men in 2020 were $49,389. That’s higher than the average income of $35,838 for women.
Despite the attempts to close the wage gap, women still earn $0.79 for every dollar a man earns in a similar position. This disparity is even worse for non-white women, as black women earn just $0.64 and Hispanic women make just $0.57 for every dollar a white man earns.
How does education level impact household earnings?
Another factor that influences household income is education level. Households without a high school diploma see a median household income of $29,547. But households with at least a bachelor’s degree have a median household income of $106,936.
Households with at least some higher education, such as a technical school, have a median household income of $63,653. The table below demonstrates how education impacts a person’s income, as employees with a bachelor’s degree or higher make a weekly income far above other employees.
How does age impact household earnings?
Age matters when it comes to money. In many cases, older workers earn more than their younger counterparts due to their experience. But income tends to drop off during retirement, as many retirees live off of a retirement plan of some kind.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income for those over 65 is $46,360. That’s quite a bit lower than the median household income for the age group younger than 65, which is $76,800.
What is the average household income in the U.S.?
As of 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual wage for an individual worker was $22 per hour. With that, the average salary was $58,260 for the year. That’s significantly higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for nonexempt employees in low-paying jobs.
On the other side of the American income distribution scale, there are households earning less than the poverty rate. As of 2020, the percentage of Americans living in poverty was 11.4%, which equals about 37.2 million Americans living in poverty.
The poverty line varies based on household size. For a household of four, earning $26,496 or less in 2020 would be considered living in poverty. That works out to an average wage of $13.25 per hour if one worker is supporting the household with 40 hours per week 50 weeks out of the year. However, for a family of two, this number drops to $17,420.
Even though the average American income is $22 an hour, this wage barely surpasses the living wage in some states. As the Massachusetts Institution of Technology describes it, the living wage is the minimum wage a person can make and still comfortably pay for all of their necessities.
This wage differs depending on household size, but sadly there is a large difference between many states’ minimum wages and living wages, as you can see below.
Is $100,000 a good income?
A six-figure mark has been the elusive pinnacle of a good salary for many. However, it’s important to remember that income doesn’t necessarily equate to wealth or high net worth.
$100,000 is a relatively high income compared to the median household income of $67,521 in 2020. But that doesn’t mean your finances will automatically be in a comfortable position.
What professions earn over $100,000?
It’s possible to earn six figures in a range of professions. But some professions tend to have more six-figure earners than others.
For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median individual income for lawyers of $127,990. Here’s a look at some of the other highly paid fields.
- Medical professionals. The job with the highest-paid professionals was a cardiologist. Cardiologists earn the highest median income of $353,970 for the year, which works out to a mean hourly wage of $170.18. Dentists are another group of top-earning professionals with an average annual income of $163,200 per year.
- Financial industry. Financial industries seem packed with high-paying jobs. For example, economists earn a median salary of $120,990 per year. Another potentially lucrative profession included human resources managerial positions, with a median income of $126,230.
What are some of the lowest paying jobs?
On the other side of the coin, there are plenty of low-paying jobs out there. A few of the lowest paying jobs on the market include amusement park workers and fast food cooks. Each earns a mean hourly wage of less than $12.55, which leads to an average income of $26,110 for amusement park workers and $25,490 for fast food cooks.
That being said, there are several positions earning the federal minimum wage, which earn $15,080 a year before taxes. Though this may be an okay wage for your teenager, it is not a livable wage in any state.
How to increase your income
A six-figure income is nothing to sneeze at. Although you’ll still need to make saving money a priority, a higher income can definitely give your budget more breathing room.
Not sure how to increase your income? Give the following tips a try.
Look for a raise
A raise can push you closer to your income goals. Depending on the situation, you might be able to get a raise by asking your current employer. But in some cases, you might have to seek out a more lucrative job.
“If you want to boost your income, go shopping for a job,” says Adam Puff, the founder of Haddonfield Financial Planning.
He continues, “If you love where you work, that doesn’t mean you need to leave either. Find out what the current going rate is for your job level and experience and talk to your employer. Most employers do not want to have to replace anyone right now because they can’t find anyone qualified. There has probably never been a better time to ask for a raise.”
Find a side hustle
Sometimes, earning more during your regular work day isn’t in the cards. That’s when a flexible side hustle can come into play.
“If you’re not interested in earning more at your current job, consider starting a side hustle. There are many ways to make extra money, so find something that interests you and get started. I’ve seen people earn thousands of dollars monthly from their side hustles,” says Alan Harder, an experienced mortgage broker.
The nice thing about a side hustle is that you can adjust your income as needed. Harder explains, “It’s up to you how much workload you want to take on and how you’ll negotiate your rates with your clients.”
Expand your skills
An in-demand skill can help you significantly increase your income. Christopher Liew, CFA and founder of Wealth Awesome, recommends, “Don’t stop learning and honing your skills because one day you can make use of those to start your own business or side hustle.”
Start brainstorming about potential skills that you can develop. According to Business New Daily, a few of the most in-demand skills include blockchain development, mobile development, data analysis, artificial intelligence, programming, sales, and video editing. Other high-quality skills to invest in include communication skills, like writing and public speaking.
Build passive income streams
Passive income streams can give your income a boost. Although there’s often a lot of work involved in setting up a passive income stream, the long-term rewards can help you maintain a relatively high income.
When you have a passive income stream, your funds can start to contribute long term financial stability. You may also hear this called “making your money work for you,” and it’s a smart way to increase your income without working harder than you already do. A few ways to put your money to work for you include:
- Building out an income-producing asset, such as writing a book
- Buying an income-producing asset, like a piece of real estate or dividend stock
- Opening a high-yield savings account
High-yield savings accounts pay interest on the money in your savings, which helps you make a little extra money simply by keeping your money in an account. While it’s this interest is usually around 1%, it’s still a little extra cash that can add up over time. If you’re interested in opening a high-yield savings account of your own, consider one of the accounts below.
Is $100k a lot of income?
The median household income in the country was $67,521 in 2020. So, in general, $100,000 is considered a lot of income. But where you live will impact how far $100,000 will stretch. In many areas of the country, $100,000 will lead to a very comfortable life. But in other areas, $100,000 might not stretch as far.
What salary is considered rich?
The salary needed to be considered “rich varies” from location to location. In high cost of living areas, you might need to earn well over the six-figure mark to feel rich. But in lower cost-of-living areas, $100,000 might be enough to live very well.
How common is a six-figure salary?
Approximately 33.6% of U.S. households earn $100,000 or more. With that, around one in three households are bringing in a six-figure income.
However, a household can include more than one earner. So, even if a household earns over $100,00 for the year, that might mean that two salaries have been combined. The average annual wage for individual incomes was $58,260 in 2021.
Is $200,000 a year rich?
If your household earns $200,000 per year, you’d be considered rich based on the country’s median income. After all, these six-figure incomes are significantly higher than the mean income for households around the country. However, $200,000 won’t stretch as far in some high cost-of-living areas, such as San Francisco.
In 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that just 10.3% of households earn that kind of cash. An individual income of $200,000 would work out to an hourly wage of around $100.
What is considered upper class?
According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center, you’ll need to earn at least twice the median family income to break into the upper class.
Since the median income was $67,521 in 2020, your household income would need to be at least $135,042 to be considered upper class. With that, those in the upper class need to tap into higher incomes through some of the highest-paying jobs.
The median household income would be considered a middle-class income.
How much house can I afford if I make $100,000 a year?
If you make $100,000 per year, the amount you can afford to spend on a home varies based on your other debts and financial obligations. But as a general rule of thumb, you should spend less than 30% of your income on your housing costs.
So, you could potentially afford a mortgage payment of $2,500 per month if you don’t have any other debts. This may translate into a home purchase price somewhere between $300,000 and $500,000, depending on your down payment.
What is $100,000 a year hourly?
If you worked 40 hours a week for 50 weeks of the year, a $100,000 income would break down to $50 per hour.
- Approximately one-third of U.S. households earn $100,000 or more per year. However, this does not mean a third of U.S. individuals make over $100k a year.
- Race, gender, age, and education all impact the average income distribution in the United States.
- Almost half of Americans making $100,000 are living paycheck to paycheck.
- If you want to earn over $100,000 a year, focus on obtaining a job in the medical or financial field.
- You can increase your income by asking for a raise, working a side job, further expanding your skills, or making your money work for you.
View Article Sources
- 2021 Poverty Guidelines — Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
- Median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by educational attainment — U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Living Wage Calculator — Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Women of Color and the Wage Gap — Center for American Progress
- Income and Poverty in the United States: 2020 — U.S. Census Bureau
- The Number of Consumers Living Paycheck to Paycheck… — LendingClub
- The American middle class is stable in size… — Pew Research Center
- What Is Base Pay? — SuperMoney
- Top 20 High Paying Jobs in America — SuperMoney
- $45 an Hour is How Much a Year? — SuperMoney
- $50,000 a Year is How Much an Hour? — SuperMoney
- How Much Do Veterinarians Make? — SuperMoney
- What Is The Average Tax Attorney Salary? — SuperMoney
- How Much Money Should You Save From Your Salary to Be a Millionaire? – SuperMoney
- How Much Do Dentists Make? Average Salary by State — SuperMoney
- Who Makes More Money: Athletes, Actors, National Leaders, Drug Lords or CEOs? — SuperMoney
- Average Income of Side Jobs – 5 Steps to Finding The Right One For You — SuperMoney
- How Much Do People Really Make in Side Hustle Jobs? — SuperMoney