When we talk about salaries, being our own or others’, we often talk about how many figures we make. Most of us start out making a 5 figure salary, meaning under 100,000 per year. However, most of us strive to reach the 6-figure salary during our time in the workforce.
For those super go-getters, you might aim to make a 7-figure salary or 8 figure salary. Then there are those top 1%ers that could potentially have a staggering 9-figure salary at the end of the day.
But what does all this talk about figures mean? How much money are we talking about here, and how can you make a 6-figure salary, 7-figure salary, or even an 8-figure salary? Let’s go over different aspects of what all talk about figures involves.
What is a 6 figure salary?
Let’s start with the 6-figure salary. The 6 figure salary ranges from anything starting at $100,000 per year in pay up to $999,999. Breaking it down, that’s roughly $8,333 per month or $48.08 hourly at minimum. This is a wide range in salary and, more than likely, lifestyle. Saying you make $100,000 a year is very different than making $500,000 a year, which is very different from making nearly one million a year.
You are likely well off at the low end of the range and not struggling for money. Still, depending on where you live, the number of people you are supporting, and other factors, you likely aren’t living a life of luxury.
However, once you get higher into the 6-figure salary range, you are clearly among some of the top earners in the country and will have a more luxurious lifestyle.
How To Get A 6 Figure Salary
Seeing that you can’t make a 7 figure salary or 8 figure salary without making a 6-figure salary, let’s get into how you can take your first step towards the high echelon of money makers. Below are some tried and true ways to earn a 6-figure salary.
Getting a higher education is one of the top ways to start earning a 6-figure income and beyond. Higher education stops after getting our bachelor’s degree for most of us. You can certainly achieve a 6 figure income with only a bachelor’s degree. However, if you continue to earn a master’s degree or doctorate, not only could you start with a 6-figure salary, but you could be putting yourself into a position to reach an even better salary.
Getting a higher education doesn’t guarantee anything, but being educated will undoubtedly give you a leg up, open doors, and provide more opportunities to achieve a 6, 7, or even 8 figure salary.
Put In The Hard Work
Ok, so being educated gives your a head start, but nothing will be handed to you simply because you have a few pieces of paper. So now it’s time to put all that education to work, literally. Once you have landed a job in the industry of your choice, you’ll need to work hard if you want to achieve a high-end salary.
No matter what profession you are in, lazy, unmotivated, and unreliable are not traits companies, clients, or customers are looking for. Strive to make yourself better at whatever you do every day. By putting in the effort to do your job and doing it well, you’ll take that head start your education gave you and take full advantage of it.
Education alone could eventually get you a 6-figure salary due to your profession. Still, hard work is a must if you want that 7 figure or 8 figure salary.
Run Your Own Business
Running your own business is another way to earn a 6, 7, or 8 figure salary. You don’t have to be super educated to run your own business, but you must be ready to work hard. No matter what service or product you are providing, being the top person at a company can mean long hours and stressful decisions, but it can also mean you make the big bucks.
Many of the wealthiest people in the world started with a small company that they continued to grow over the years to become what they are today. Names like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk typically come to mind.
You might not be the next billionaire entrepreneur making an 8 figure salary or 9 figure salary. Still, you can undoubtedly make an excellent living from running a business if you are willing to put in the work.
Learn A Trade
Trade workers will always be in high demand. Electricians, plumbers, HVAC workers have specialized skills most of us don’t. When something happens in our home, we call them. Because their skills are so technical and specialized, there is an opportunity for trade workers to make excellent salaries. There is no guarantee you’ll reach a six-figure salary like any other job, but it’s certainly a possible route. Many will start out as workers and then eventually open their businesses to achieve this status.
Common Six Figure Jobs
There are many paths to making a six-figure salary. As noted above, some will require higher education, and some won’t. It’s just as possible for plumbers and electricians to be a 6 figure salary as doctors and lawyers, and it just depends on how hard you’re willing to work. Below are many other typical jobs that you could earn a 6 figure salary with:
- Registered Nurse
- Physician Assistant
- Commercial Airline Pilots
- Air Traffic Controllers
- Real Estate Agents
- Human Resources Manager
- Petroleum Engineers
- Software Engineers
- I’m not even going to get into all the online stuff(twitch, youtube, sales)
- Tons of others
Being Successful with a 6 Figure Salary
Achieving a six-figure salary is a great accomplishment, but it shouldn’t be your only measurement of success. Being happy, healthy, and having an overall balanced life should be how you measure your success. Clearly, the amount of money you earn will be a significant factor in many aspects of your life, so it is vital to make a good living.
Earning six figures or even seven or an 8 figure salary won’t necessarily mean you are good with money. No matter how much you make, you simply have to learn how to manage your income. Many celebrities, lottery winners, and other insanely rich people have gone completely broke because they did not correctly manage their money.
Once you achieve a high-end salary, here are a few things to be aware of:
Keeping Up With The Joneses Mindset
The “Keeping up with the Jones” mindset is something every financial blogger has written about at least a thousand times. Comparing yourself to others will never make you happy. However, there will always be something else you want if you continually look at others to see what will make you happy.
Instead, do what makes you happy or brings joy to your life, within reason, of course. Most of the time, it’s the simple things in life that bring us the most joy. Spending time with your family, our hobbies, and little moments will bring you infinitely more joy than any sports car or a fancy vacation.
Trying to look wealthy will undoubtedly be your number one way to waste most of your 6 figure salary.
Another stable of financial bloggers is talking about your debt. No matter how many figures you are making, if you have debt, you should pay it off. If you don’t have debt, don’t take any new loans. Debt is another surefire way to destroy your wealth.
Yes, there are exceptions to this rule. “Good” debt is a debt you take on that generates money. Real estate is an excellent example of this. On the other hand, taking out a loan to buy a fancy car is an example of bad debt.
Where You Live
Depending on where you live, a 6 figure salary can be more or less common. If you live in an area with a low cost of living, six figures will get you a lot. If you live in an area with a higher cost of living, your six-figure salary won’t go nearly as far. You’ll need to know how much basic needs like rent, food, and other goods cost in your area and adjust your spending accordingly.
For example, the average two-bedroom apartment to rent can vary greatly depending on the area:
- Chicago, Illinois – $2,243
- Portland, Oregon – $1,761
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – $2,241
- Baltimore, Maryland – $1,812
- Los Angeles, California – $3,091
- Denver, Colorado – $1,867
- Seattle, Washington – $2,950
- New York City – $3,092
- Washington DC – $2,672
The difference between the high-end Metro-Area and low end more rural area here is about $1300 a month, or almost 16k a year! That will drastically change how far your 100k goes.
Is the Salary Worth It?
Some of you might be thinking, what do you mean is it worth it? Well, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking. Many 6 figure salaries can be earned with relatively regular working hours. Forty hours a week and not much more. Some might require 50-60 hours a week. That would mean sacrificing your free time or time with your family to earn that salary.
When you get to the 7 figure salary zone, you could be talking 100 hour work weeks. So at what point does the salary stop being worth it?
Another factor to consider is the amount of stress you could be under. Does your job require you to make tough decisions, hire and fire people, report to a board of directors? If you lose sleep at night or your health is suffering because of your job, the salary might not be worth it.
In the end, you’ll need to find a balance between earning the kind of salary you want and being happy with your life as well.
Do You Need 6 Figures to Build Wealth?
Of course not! Many people can become plenty wealthy without ever having a 6-figure salary. All it takes is the right mindset (stay away from those Joneses!), some planning, and dedication to your financial goals. Below are just a few tips you can use to build wealth on any salary.
Pay off Debt – No bad debt for any reason, ever.
Budget – Making a budget is crucial when building wealth. If you don’t know where your money needs to be or where you are spending it, more than likely, it’s being wasted. So create a budget and stick to it.
Live Within Your Means – Spending less than you make seems like common sense, right? However, you’d be surprised about how many people are just swimming in debt because they feel compelled to look wealthy instead of being wealthy.
Invest – If you want to be wealthy, you need to invest your money; there is no way around it. Investing is the best way to make your money grow and eventually work for you. You will not get rich overnight, but if you stick with it and give it time, you will reach your financial goals.
Boost Income – Although a six-figure salary isn’t necessary for becoming wealthy, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Any way you can boost your income will accelerate your financial journey. Don’t spend your bonus or raise on a vacation or car. Instead, pay off debt or invest it. Ok, you are allowed to have some fun along the way, but remember that being expensive doesn’t always mean something is the best. There is always a way to find fun things to do at a reasonable price.
Here are a few other tips:
- Save\Invest at least 10% of every paycheck you ear
- Automate as much of your finances as you can
- Use money tracking tools
- Get credit card rewards (but don’t use the card if you can’t afford the item)
- Everything is negotiable
- Cut out any unnecessary expense like cable, eating out, expensive gym memberships
I’m Making a Six Figure Salary – Now What?
Maybe you already make six figures, what do you do now? Well, for one, you can always make more. Side hustles in today’s world are absolutely exploding. In this gig economy, you can always find a productive use for your spare time.
Some people will brag about a 6 figure salary, which is fine; it is an accomplishment. However, suppose you aren’t paying off debt, investing, and living within your means. In that case, the salary is meaningless and not worth bragging about.
If you are doing it right, you might even be able to leave your six-figure salary job for a lower-paying one. Many might wonder why or how you would do that. Remember all that investing you’ve been doing? Well, eventually, that can create enough income on its own that you can reduce the revenue from your 9-5 or leave the 9-5 rat race altogether.
How Much Is 7 Figures?
LIke a six-figure salary, a seven-figure salary means your salary has seven numbers to it. That would mean you are making anywhere from $1,000,000 per year, all the way to $9,999,999 per year. That’s $83,333.33 a month or $490.20 an hour(assuming a 40 hour work week)!
Only about 4% of Americans will make at least one million a year in salary. Don’t confuse this with net worth. Many Americans will have a net worth in the seven-figure range.
Making seven figures is a serious accomplishment, and getting it is never easy. Likely, you’ll have multiple sources of income, lots of money invested, and\or a high-paying job.
Jobs That Pay 7-Figures A Year
The list of jobs that will pay a 7-figure salary is much shorter than the six-figure salary jobs. Here are just a few examples:
- C-Level Executives of Medium to Large companies (CEO, CFO, COO, etc.)
- Medical or Pharmaceutical sales reps
- Corporate Lawyers
- High-End Real Estate Agents
- Investment Banking Manager
- Private Equity Managing Director
- Even bloggers, YouTubers, social media influencers have been known to make seven figures
Again, these occupations require different backgrounds and levels of education, training, and work ethic.
How Much Is 8-Figures?
Now we’re talking about some super high end earners. Making an 8 figure salary means you have a minimum salary of $10,000,000 dollars a year up to $99,999,999. That’s a lot of cash!
At this point, we are out of the reach of most everyday people, but we can dream right! Ways to earn an 8 figure salary might include:
- Executive Chef
- Business Owner
- Professional Athltete
- Other celebrities (comedians, for example)
How Much is 9-Figures?
We’ve gone this far, right? Let’s just keep having some fun now. 9-figures will mean you are earning a crazy stupid amount of money. A $100,000,000 minimum all the way up to $999,999,999 a year!
Jobs That Pay 9-Figures
Now, I doubt anyone makes this kind of salary, but many have net worths in this region. Most of the time, if an individual makes this kind of money, it’s because they own a huge company. Their income and worth mostly come from their stock in that company. Think of Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk. These guys have huge networths, but likely their actual salaries don’t come close here.
Professional athletes are known to make lots of money as well, and their net worth can be in the 9 figure range. Still, even the highest-paid athletes are paid 8 figure salaries per season. With endorsement deals and other sources of income outside their sport, however, many may approach the 9 figure salary.
What it Means to Make 6-Figures, 7-Figures, 8-Figure Salary or even 9-Figures – Conclusion
Making a lot of money is certainly a good goal to have. For many of us, a six-figure salary is very achievable. 7-figures isn’t all that out of the question too. Both require a lot of hard work, education, and some luck. However, don’t be fooled that a high-end salary means you’re on the easy street. You’ll still need to manage your money correctly.
We’ve seen those with an 8 figure salary and even 9-figure net worth go broke because they wasted their money on useless things and bad investments. No matter your income, do what makes you happy, and instead of looking wealthy, actually be wealthy!
Jeff is a fan of all things finance. When he’s not out there changing the world with his blog, you can find him on a run, a Mets game, playing video games, or just playing around with his kids.