How Much is 6-Figures? | Secrets to Earning a Six-Figure Salary

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Making six figures is often the ultimate income goal for most people. For some, it’s the magical number that symbolizes wealth and financial security. But exactly how much is 6-figures?

How can you make it and once you’ve made it, how far can it get you?

If making six figures is one of your financial goals, these are all questions that you’ll need to be answered.

How much is 6 figures?

Six figures is an annual income of $100,000 – $999,999. Essentially, it means that six digits make up the total number. 

The term “six-figures” is usually in reference to income. For example, someone who makes $250,000 per year earns a six-figure income or salary.

To make a six-figure income within a year, you would need to earn a minimum of $8,333.34 per month or $1,923.08 every week. This would allow you to make $100,000 per year, which is the minimum amount to be considered six figures.

Earning a six-figure salary doesn’t mean that you’ll actually see six figures in your bank account.

I’ll talk about the things that will impact how much of that income you’ll actually see later on…

Is earning 6-figures good?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for workers in the United States in 2020 was $984 per week. This equates to a median annual salary of $51,168 for 52 weeks of work.

As you can see, making six figures within a year is practically double that of the median income. So, though it may not make you rich, it certainly makes you better off than most.

It’s also important to note that this statistic doesn’t quite show the disparities in income among gender and race. Women and people of color generally make significantly less than the median salary noted. This means that a six-figure income would more than double their current salaries.

How to make six-figures

There are a ton of ways that you can make six figures. In fact, there are ways that you can earn six figures without a traditional career or even a college degree.

If you’re trying to hit the six-figure income mark, it’s best to diversify your income streams

This means that you don’t have to rely on one single job, business, or investment to earn your money.

Do you need a college degree to earn six figures?

You absolutely don’t need a college degree to earn six figures. There are many career and business opportunities available that allow you to make this and more.

Some of the world’s wealthiest people don’t have college degrees. 

Consider Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, who dropped out of college to start the world’s largest social media platform. 

Bill Gates, whose net worth is over $100 billion is also a college dropout.

There are many more examples of people who have been able to achieve and surpass six-figure incomes without having a college degree. You can too.

Top 11 six-figure salary jobs 

Most careers offer the opportunity for advancement and, subsequently, an increase in compensation. However, there are some that start at more than $100,000 per year. 

Here are some of the top, highest-paying occupations that earn 6-figures. These careers do require at least a bachelor’s degree.

Job TitleJob DescriptionIncome
PsychiatristA medical doctor specializing in mental health>$208,000
Obstetrician and gynecologistA medical doctor specializing in prenatal and postpartum care. A medical doctor specializing in the female reproductive system>$208,000
Surgeon A medical doctor qualified to perform surgeries>$208,000
OrthodontistA dentist specializing in teeth and jaw misalignment>$208,000
AnesthesiologistA medical doctor specializing in anesthesia>$208,000
PediatricianA medical doctor specializing in care & treatment for children up to age 18$175,310
DentistA medical doctor specializing in oral care$155,600
Computer and information systems managerManages employees in the computer systems and information technology field$146,360
Architectural and engineering managerManages other architects and engineers$144,830
Petroleum engineerEngineer specializing in the extraction of oil$137,720
JudgeGovernment official overseeing law and rendering decisions in court $136,910
*Estimated annual income based on Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 data

Some other popular six figure careers include software developer, pharmacist, attorney, and financial manager.

As you can see, most careers that require a medical degree or are in engineering, computer science, or a technical related field are among the top earners. 

But again, a degree isn’t necessary to make 6-figures. 

5 Six-figure salary careers that don’t require a bachelor’s degree

Here are other ways that you can earn a significant income without having a degree. In most cases, these jobs only require a high school diploma.

1. Commercial pilot 

$121,000

A commercial pilot flies aircrafts for commercial airlines. To become a commercial pilot, you need a high school diploma and a commercial pilot’s license. 

2. Air traffic controller

$122,000

Air traffic controllers coordinator the movement of aircraft to ensure that they remain at safe distances. You can become an air traffic controller with an associates degree from an accredited Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative program.

3. Web developer/designer

$121,160

Web develops design and maintenance websites. Although you can earn a degree in web development, there are online courses for web design that you can take to learn this job. In addition, you can work as a freelance web developer and work with clients on a contract basis.

4. Real estate agent

Though their income is largely determined by their sales, real estate agents can make upwards of six figures each year. In the right market and with the right clientele, this can be a great career that can earn lots of money.

5. Entrepreneur

Owning your own business is definitely one way to earn six figures or more! With entrepreneurship, there really is no ceiling to how much money you can make.

This doesn’t mean that it’s easy. It may take some time to build a business that generates this much money. Nonetheless, if you can grow it to six figures, then you can scale it to 7-figures as well.

Not sure what business to start? Here are some ideas to get you started:

40 Home based business ideas for moms

55 Season business ideas for the summer

3 Ways to increase your income to six figures

Don’t fret if you aren’t making six figures yet or if you aren’t in any of the aforementioned career or business fields. This doesn’t exclude you from being able to make a significant amount of money.

Increasing your current income and diversifying your income streams are other ways that you can get to the six-figure income mark.

1. Learn high-income skills

High-income skills are skills, techniques, and even knowledge that is considered high value in the marketplace. This means that companies and individuals will pay a significant amount of money for someone who possesses these skills.

You can increase your income by learning these skills and applying them to your current career or business.

Here are some high-income skills to consider learning:

  1. Copywriting
  2. Data Analytics
  3. Digital Marketing
  4. Web Design & Web Systems
  5. Sales
  6. Foreign Language
  7. Project Management & Organization

2. Negotiate a raise

You may already be leaving money on the table in your current job by not asking for a raise. You should always negotiate your salary based on your skills, experience and value that you bring to the table. 

This is one tactic that’s often overlooked, especially by women. In fact, 60% of women in a survey cited by CNBC said that they’ve never asked for a pay increase.

By not asking for a raise, they may have foregone the opportunity to significantly increase their income to make or surpass $100,000 per year.

If you’re a woman who wants to earn a six-figure salary in your career, I recommended reading Secrets of Six Figure Women by Barbara Stanny.

This book provides tips, strategies, and advice to change your mindset and behavior to start earning six figures.

3. Pick up a side hustle

Taking on a side hustle is another way that you can add an extra stream of income to your finances. Remember, the more streams of income you have, the easier it is to reach your income goals.

The idea is to find a side hustle that doesn’t take up a lot of your time. After all, having a side hustle means that you also have a full time job.

Some side hustles that have the potential to earn you six figures on their own include:

4 Things that will impact your 6-figure income

The reality is that although you may have a six-figure salary, you won’t necessarily see six figures in your bank account. 

So before you start spending money on a luxury lifestyle, take note of these things that will ultimately impact how far your paycheck will actually go.

1. Taxes

Any income that you earn is subject to taxes. This means that every time you get paid, a portion of your paycheck will have to go back to the government.

Taxes aren’t a bad thing. Money paid in taxes is used for infrastructure maintenance & development and for public resources. 

Nonetheless, paying taxes still reduces the actual amount of money that you are able to take home from your paycheck. You can estimate that about 25% of your income will go to paying taxes in the US.

The good news is that there are ways to reduce how much you pay in taxes so that you can take home more of your hard-earned money. You can lower your taxable income by leveraging deductions and other legal tax strategies.

Ultimate, the more you make, the more taxes you pay.

2. Debt

Debt can play a significant part in how far a 6-figure income actually goes. That’s why getting out of debt should be something that you aspire and work to do.

For most people, that includes student loan debt, car loans, and a mortgage.

A 2020 study done on household debt showed that the average household debt is $145,000. Specifically, student loans account for approximately $58,000.

If you want to make the most of your income, you should create a plan to pay off your debt as soon as possible

The longer your debt remains, the more that it’ll continue to cut into your high income. It’ll also cost you more in the long run due to interest.

3. Where you live

Where you live has a significant impact on how far your money actually goes. This has to do with the cost of living, which varies by location.

In the US, the two highest costs of living cities are New York City and San Francisco.

According to a recent report, home prices in either of these cities exceed $1M and families would have to make over $110,000 per year just to make ends meet. This is in stark contrast to the lowest cost of living cities, where rent is less than $850.

If you live in a high cost of living city, unfortunately, six figures won’t get you very far beyond your essential needs.

4. Your lifestyle

You may feel accomplished when you’ve reached the six figure income mark. As a result, you may feel the need to enjoy the fruits of your labor with a luxury lifestyle.

If you choose to do so without proper planning and money management, you may find yourself broke.

Many times when people start making more income, they fall into lifestyle creep. This is where you begin to take on more expenses that essentially cancel out your increase in income.

So instead of having additional income to save, invest, and or get out of debt, it is spent on excessive living. If you want to actually see the benefit of an increased income, avoid lifestyle creep.

How to manage 6-figure income and not go broke

You may be surprised to find out that there are people making six figures who are still living paycheck to paycheck.

Making more money doesn’t mean that you’ll be good at managing it. It’s important that you have a good financial plan so that you can make the most out of a large income.

Ultimately, making six figures takes hard work. Whether that’s from years of studying to earn a degree, working extensive hours on a job, or even starting a business. 

Don’t let that work go to waste by not properly managing your money. Here’s how you can ensure that your money goes a long way.

Create a financial plan

You should have a financial plan no matter how much money you make. Financial planning helps you determine how to appropriate your funds so that you reach your financial goals.

Creating a financial plan doesn’t have to be complicated and you don’t need to have to hire a financial advisor. You simply need to understand what your life goals are so that you can plan your money around them.

For instance, if you want to retire early, you’ll need a plan to save a certain amount of money each month in order to have enough money to do so.

Once you know what those goals are, you should find the appropriate financial tools to help. This can mean budgeting apps, investing apps, and more!

Develop a budget

At the end of the day, a budget is simply a plan for your money. It’s a plan to help you navigate life and to reach your financial goals. 

When you have a budget, you can allocate your money to things like paying off debt, putting money in savings, and even investing in the stock market. Having a budget allows you to see how much money you can put towards these goals and create a timeline to achieve them.

Creating a budget can actually be done in 4 simple steps:

  1. List your income
  2. List your expenses
  3. Compare your expenses to your income, reduct if necessary
  4. Track your spending

Read: How to Create a Budget in 4 Easy Steps

You can leverage budgeting apps and excel spreadsheets to create and keep track of your budget.

Your budget will be the single most important thing that will help you manage and maintain your money.

Save for emergencies

In reality, jobs and even business come and go. That’s why you should always have a plan for the unexpected. 

To hedge against financial risks, it’s important to have money saved for emergencies.

An emergency fund is the savings account that holds funds for true emergencies. It’s where you would draw money from in the case of an unexpected event that would require large sums of money that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

While you’re earning a high income, leverage it to put enough money aside to cover 6-12 months of your expenses. This will allow you to still be able to cover your basic expenses if there’s a break in your income.

Read: How to choose the right savings account

Save for retirement

You won’t be working forever, so it’s also important that you save for retirement. To do this, you can leverage an employer-sponsored retirement account, such as a 401k or an individual retirement account (IRA).

Invest

Investing is one of the keys to building wealth. It’s the simplest and most reliable way to exponentially increase your wealth and make passive income.

Ultimately, you want to maximize your income, and investing will allow your money to make money for you. It’s the simple concept of compound interest.

The most common ways to invest are in real estate or by investing in the stock market.

If you’re new to investing, I recommend reading the following books:

Avoid lifestyle creep

As I mentioned before, it’s easy to fall into the trap of lifestyle creep when you’re making a lot of money. This is what you want to avoid.

When you have an increase in income, avoid increasing your expenses. Avoid acquiring new bills, like car payments or an increase in your mortgage. 

Instead, you should use the extra income to pay off debt, save, and invest. Once you’re financially secure, then you can afford to upgrade your lifestyle.

Final thoughts on making six figures

Remember, it’s not about how much you make, but what you do with what you make. 

Don’t work hard to make money only to lose it from poor money management. Leverage the advice and tools provided so that you can not only make six figures, but you can keep it too!

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