Pay off high-rate debt with a personal loan and save thousands. Learn more.

What Is a Six Figure Salary?

By Kelly Boyer Sagert · March 02, 2023 · 6 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

What Is a Six Figure Salary?

When setting income goals, some people use a six-figure salary as a benchmark. But what does it represent exactly? And how do six-figure earners get to that level?

We’ll dig into the legend surrounding the six-figure salary, and whether you need one to build wealth.

How Much Is a Six Figure Salary?

“Six figures” simply refers to a number with six digits. Typically used with money, the term covers amounts from $100,000 to $999,999. (Once you hit 1 million, you’re in seven-figure territory.) Someone with a six-figure salary makes at least $100K.

Check your score with SoFi

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10.*


Recommended: Free Credit Score Monitoring

How to Make Six Figures

There is no one right way to earn six figures. That said, there are strategies that can better position you for this level of income. Getting a good education, while not absolutely necessary, is a solid foundation for the kinds of jobs that pay in the six-figure range. Another path is to start your own business.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists 159 occupations with median salaries of at least $80,000. The degrees required for these jobs range from a high school diploma to a doctoral degree.

It’s important to recognize that certain careers just pay more than others. Once you’ve chosen a high paying field, you can determine the type of education and training you’ll need to pursue.

You’ll also want to learn how to manage and grow your money. A good place to start is by tracking your expenses and savings with a free spending app.

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait?

Average Age to Make Six Figures in the US

According to the U.S Census Bureau, about 15% of households earn between $100,000 and $149,000. Another 8% earn between $150,000 and $199,000. And 10% earn $200,000 or more. Note that this is household income, not individual. Compare those figures to the national average salary of $60,575.

Some workers begin earning six figures in their twenties and thirties. Economists nickname them HENRYs, for “high earners, not rich yet.” But for most people, their “peak earning years” are from age 35 to 54. The majority of people who make six figures will do so in their 30s.

Keep in mind that annual income says nothing about someone’s financial health. An individual making $50K who manages their money well can be in a better place financially than someone making six figures.

Recommended: What Is a Good Entry-Level Salary?

Examples of Jobs That Pay Six Figures

A look at the highest paying jobs by state offers insight into these types of careers. All these jobs make at least $200,000, and all but one are in the medical field. Texas is an outlier. There, chief executives, the highest paying job in the Lone Star State, earn $239,060 on average.

Other types of jobs that can pay a six figure salary include airline pilots ($174,001), IT managers ($136,745), and lawyers ($101,790). A construction project manager earns about $113,257, while a college development officer makes $163,600. It’s probably fair to say that, in any industry, there are successful bosses who make six figures.

Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax?

What Does a Six Figure Salary Get You?

What a six figure salary will get you depends on several other factors. A big one is the cost of living in your area. This is how much you spend on housing, transportation, food, and other necessities. When someone lives in a place with a high cost of living, they will typically have less disposable income and less to put into savings than someone who lives in a low cost-of-living location. This can be true even if both are making competitive salaries.

Another factor is household size. For a single person living in California, a six figure salary might be more than enough. However, a family of four living in the same area could be just scraping by.

Recommended: How to Counter a Salary Offer

Do You Need a Six Figure Salary to Build Wealth?

Not by a long shot. That said, you need to have a reasonable income to live on. For example, a $20,000 salary typically isn’t enough for a household to meet basic expenses. Let’s look at rent. The 30% rule recommends spending no more than $6,000 on rent per year (that’s 30% of $20K), which works out to $500 a month. The average rent nationwide is now $2,000, four times what you could afford on a $20,000 salary.

What about a $40,000 salary? This may be enough for a single person in some areas, but probably not for a family. And while an individual could afford basic necessities, they may not have much left for building wealth — that is, saving and investing.

Another factor is existing debt. If you are paying down high-interest credit card balances, it can be hard to also put money toward savings.

The income needed to build wealth then is an amount that covers the cost of living in your location, allows you to pay off any debt, and provides enough extra to set aside money for an emergency fund, retirement, and investing.

Recommended: Salary vs Hourly Pay

How to Build Wealth Without Earning a Six Figure Salary

As we hinted above, the steps to building wealth are the same for any salary. First, pay off your debt, especially high interest credit cards and loans. Money going to interest is money that could be going into your savings or investments.

Second, look for ways to cut back on spending: cooking at home instead of going to costly restaurants, closing fee-based apps that you don’t really need, and so on.

Finally, save and invest the money that isn’t going to credit card debt or other nice-to-have but not necessary expenses.

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity?

The Takeaway

A six figure salary, meaning one between $100,000 and $999,999, is a benchmark for many people who want to meet financial goals. Having a good education is usually helpful but not always necessary, and certain jobs are more likely to come with six figure salaries. Having a good salary is helpful when building wealth, but the same strategies can be utilized on a five figure salary. Tracking your spending and automating your savings are two good first steps.

SoFi’s money tracker app allows you to monitor your accounts on a single mobile dashboard. And it’s free.

Get a bird’s-eye view of your balances on the go.

FAQ

Is a six figure salary good?

In most places in the United States, $100,000 is a good salary, covering the needs of an individual or small family, while building savings.

What does a six figure salary mean?

This is a salary that contains six digits: from $100,000 to $999,999.

What is an eight figure salary?

This is a salary amount consisting of eight digits: from $10 million annually to $99 million.


Photo credit: iStock/Renata Angerami

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SORL0223006

All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store
SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender