How much should you really be getting paid for your day job?
Money, money, money… Like it or loathe it, it’s the one thing that makes the world go around. So, when you receive your paycheck at the end of the month, does it make you beam or grimace? Are you pleased with the cash you’re taking home or do you think you deserve a bit more? How does it even measure up to the US average salary anyway?
These are the questions you should be asking yourself. Whether you’re job hunting or comfortably in a long-term position, you need to know that you’re getting what you're worth. So, if you have no clue what the US average salary is, you’re missing a trick. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. In the following guide, we will be covering:
- What a “good salary” actually is in the United States
- The national average salary and minimum wage
- The average salary you should take home according to your age
- What the highest-paying jobs and industries in the US are.
What is considered a high salary?
Okay, so what is considered a big paycheck? While you might be happy with your bank balance, are you certain that it measures up? Learning more about the average US salary, and what factors can impact it, is a wise move. However, there is so much more to consider here.
The truth of the matter is that a “good salary” depends on a variety of things — such as your age, education level, and the sector… but we will get to that shortly.
When looking at pay packages and your options, take into account the benefits that are provided, such as paid leave and any healthcare. Landing the right job for you isn’t merely about how many dollars you’re taking home. Try to take a broad view of the offer.
What is the minimum wage in the US?
Before you accept a job offer, you need to make sure that you’re being given the federal minimum wage. That is currently $7.20 per hour, according to government statistics.
However, it doesn’t end there. A number of states have additional minimum wage laws by which employers have to abide. When both state and federal legislation applies simultaneously, you are entitled to the higher of the two wages. Score!
You can find out more information about the US minimum wage in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The law also includes guidance on overtime pay, which is 1.5 times an employee’s regular rate of pay for nonexempt staff members working 40+ hours a week.
It’s important that you not only know your rights but advocate for them. If your employer is not offering the federal minimum wage, speak up. The business owner is breaking the law and you deserve better. Visit Workplace Fairness for more information on this topic.
What is the average US salary right now?
What is the average salary in the US? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for US workers is $1,070 per week. That brings the annual national average salary to $55,640, assuming the standard 52 weeks in the working year.
The government statistics are based on “median calculations.” This approach — rather than simply working out the average pay package — lowers the impact of outlier statistics. The result is a well-rounded reading of the average US salary as a whole. However, keep in mind that there are plenty of metrics you can bring in when looking at this statistic.
Know your worth — and ask for it!
Are you underpaid and overworked? If you have looked at the average US salary and believe that you should be earning more, it’s time to do something about it. Read our guide on how to negotiate your salary for advice on bringing up this tricky subject matter.
Factors that can determine a good salary
Now that you know the average US salary, let’s talk about the factors that can shift it. It should come as no surprise that different demographics can expect different paychecks. It’s understandable that your education level and sector have an impact on your earnings.
However, the unfortunate truth is that we have some way to go when it comes to equality. As you will see, your age, ethnicity, and gender also play a role in your average salary. With that in mind, let’s take a look at each of the factors and how they impact your wage.
Age and experience are not one and the same. How old you are has a direct impact on the salary you can expect each month. The statistics show that from the age of 16 all the way to 54, your wage is likely to climb with your age. However — and this is crucial — when you hit that 55-year mark, the average salary you can expect starts to fall back down.
What is the average salary by age?
One of the ways to determine whether you’re getting paid fairly is to look at how much you should be making based on your age. Here’s a breakdown of the Q3 2022 Median Weekly Earnings of Full-Time Wage and Salary Workers, as reported by Capital One:
- Ages 16-19 — $587 (weekly), $30,524 (annual)
- Ages 20-24 — $684 (weekly), $35,568 (annual)
- Ages 25-34 — $975 (weekly), $50,700 (annual)
- Ages 35-44 — $1,155 (weekly), $60,060 (annual)
- Ages 45-54 — $1,172 (weekly), $60,944 (annual)
- Ages 55-64 — $1,134 (weekly), $58,968 (annual)
- Ages 65 and over — $1,067 (weekly), $55,484 (annual)
Education and experience
Whenever we’re talking about average salaries, it’s important to note that both your education and experience level will impact your pay. Put simply, that is because these factors often dictate your job role. The higher your status, the more money you will make.
An entry-level role will offer an average salary of $35,119, whereas the average salary for a manager is $69,214. Your chances of reaching the managerial level are highly increased when you have a decent education and years of experience backing you up. If you’re looking for ways to take the next step in your career, take a look at these leadership skills .
The gender pay gap is real — and it will influence the average salary you can expect to take home. According to the 2022 State of the Gender Pay Gap Report, the uncontrolled gender pay gap sees women making an average of 82% of what men make. To put that into real terms, women take home $0.82 while their male counterpart makes a dollar.
The pay gap has shrunk since the start of the pandemic. However, that is not the positive news story you may be envisioning. The analysts explained when lower-earning women have had to leave their jobs, it has pushed up the median wage for all working women.
It has been a challenge for women, in particular women of color. “Due to the economic turmoil of COVID-19, women — especially women of color — have disproportionately faced unemployment at higher rates than in typical years,” states the 2022 report.
The average US salary by gender.
According to the Q1 2022 Median Weekly Earnings of Full-Time Wage and Salary Workers, here are the US average salaries by gender:
- Women — $939 (weekly), $48,828 (annual)
- Men — $1,128 (weekly), $58,656 (annual)
Race and ethnicity
While we are on the subject of inequality, we cannot ignore the race factor. There are undeniable earning disparities between people of various ethnicities and backgrounds.
Back in 2020, SHRM reported that “fresh attention is being given to the racial wage gap and why Black men and women, in particular, still earn substantially less than their white counterparts.” However, there are even further nuances to this tricky debate, with Asian professionals continually outearning their white, Black, and Latino counterparts.
Regardless of that fact, the latest average US salary statistics paint a strong picture — showing that there are further leaps that need to be taken toward racial pay equality.
How your ethnicity impacts your salary.
While it should not be the case, statistics show that there are pay gaps between races and ethnicities. Here are the latest salaries from the Q1 2022 Median Weekly Earnings of Full-Time Wage and Salary Workers, Ages 16 and Older:
- Hispanic or Latino — $799 (weekly), $41,548 (annual)
- Black — $840 (weekly), $43,680 (annual)
- White — $1,064 (weekly), $55,328 (annual)
- Asain — $1,362 (weekly), $70,824 (annual)
Sector or industry
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist — which, incidentally, would grant you an average salary of $109,419 — to know that pay varies between industries. Sectors in which you need a technical skill set, such as medicine, science, and technology tend to offer higher-paying jobs. When you are looking at the average US salaries as a whole, it’s important to remember that there are load variables that can impact professionals’ annual earnings.
The highest-paying industries in the US!
If you’re ready to kickstart your career and don’t know which route to choose, you should consider your potential earnings. The Grey Journal revealed the 2022 top ten highest-paying industries in the country. Take a quick peek at the list:
- Information technology
- Legal Industry
- Real estate
Bonus: The five highest-paying jobs in the US
Are you looking to bring home the figurative bacon? If you want to become a top earner, you need to know which jobs offer the fattest paycheck. We’ve got you covered. According to US News’ 2022 Best Jobs List, here are the country’s highest-paying jobs, each of which is a medical role and has a top median salary of $208,000 per year:
We won’t beat around the bush — landing a job as an anesthesiologist will certainly boost your bank balance. Of course, the route to this role is not quick and easy.
It’s a long journey but it’s worth it financially. You will need to gain a bachelor’s degree, pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), attend medical school, pass the licensure exam, complete a residency, and then get yourself a state licensure.
Coming in at the same average annual salary as an anesthesiologist, we’ve got the highly sought-after surgeon role. Once again, climbing the career ladder to this height will take you a matter of years. You will have to follow the same process we’ve covered above but focus on surgery. When you have qualified, you may choose to specialize further.
3. Obstetrician and Gynecologist
Once again, offering the same annual salary, we’ve got obstetrician and gynecologist positions. You will need to complete 12 years of schooling before you can graduate in either of these disciplines. Plus, you need to pass the MCAT and go to medical school before taking the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).
An orthodontist is a dental specialist who deals with problems with the teeth and jaw. Gaining this role will make you an average of — you guessed it! — $208,000 per year. You will have to undertake years of schooling before going to dental school and then landing a residency. US News reports that only 4% of applicants gain a residency program.
5. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
Sticking well within the same industry, the fifth highest paying job in the US is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. These highly-trained professionals perform surgeries on the mouth, face, and jaw. After gaining a bachelor’s degree, attending dental school, and completing many years of residency, you will also need to gain a certificate from the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery before you will be fully qualified in this role.
- The average US salary is $55,640 as of the third quarter of 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
- A number of factors — including your age, gender, race, education level, and the sector in which you work — can impact the average salary you can expect.
- The highest-paying jobs in the US are in the medical sector. These specialized roles include anesthesiologists, surgeons, gynecologists, and orthodontists.
- When considering a job offer, you should take a look at the package as a whole. That includes delving into any healthcare benefits, paid time off, and much more!