The Myth of the Six-Figure Salary + 7 Skills You Need to Earn It

The Myth of the Six-Figure Salary + 7 Skills You Need to Earn It

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What Is a Six-Figure Salary?

A six-figure salary is one that (literally) contains six figures, or six digits, in the number, so a salary between $100,000 and $999,999. As you can see, it’s a big range from the low six-figures to the high six-figures. To get this out of the way, we’ll start with a little “rain” on the six-figure parade. There are lots of factors to consider when you find yourself daydreaming 

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What Is a Six-Figure Salary?

about the “perfect” six-figure lifestyle.

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What Are Taxes on a Six-Figure Salary?

It’s worth considering that your tax bracket might change when you begin to earn six figures. A higher income generally means a bit of a higher tax bracket. Just ask the billionaires that like to complain about it all the time. That said, that all depends on personal factors like your tax filing status and your state's tax rates. With taxes in mind,

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What Are Taxes on a Six-Figure Salary?

your take-home pay is the number that's worth using when you're planning. When you’re creating a financial plan and saving or budgeting, you’ll want to figure your monthly income (after taxes have been deducted). You may find you want your salary to be higher (and can negotiate for that when the time is right) once you see 

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What Are Taxes on a Six-Figure Salary?

your post-tax income. This way, you’ll have a truer sense of what you’re living on—and the kind of lifestyle you can actually afford.

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Six-Figure Salary Jobs

If you’re wanting to ultimately earn a six-figure salary, you’ll want to find a job that has the potential to pay six figures. Here are some of the roles that the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes were average earners of over $100,000 in 2020.  Of course, these jobs pay different salaries based on location, experience level, and more. This list is by no 

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Six-Figure Salary Jobs

means inclusive of all the options out there. – Anesthesiologists – CEOs – Computer hardware engineers and computer network architects – Dentists – Electrical engineers – Family medicine physicians – Financial managers – Lawyers – Surgeons

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Six-Figure Salary Jobs

You’ll see that many of these roles are specialized positions, but not all of them require years of school and tons of student debt.  The below jobs often pay six figures but require less specialization than some of the traditional six-figure roles. – Advertising and promotions managers – Air traffic controllers

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Six-Figure Salary Jobs

– Chemical engineers – Commercial pilots – HR managers – Marketing managers – Medical and health services managers – Sales engineers – Sales managers – Software developers – Training and development managers

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7 Crucial Skills to Help You Earn a Six-Figure Salary

1. Career Research Of course, you’ll want to start armed with knowledge. You’d likely be spinning your wheels if you hope to earn six figures in a role that caps out at $75,000.  To that end, take some time to do thorough salary research and note some roles and industries that interest you that have a six-figure pay grade. When you go to research, we 

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7 Crucial Skills to Help You Earn a Six-Figure Salary

recommend starting with The Salary Project, our anonymous database that allows you to see what other people across the country earn in certain roles. It has over 60,000 salaries that real people have submitted, so it’s a valuable resource for your planning.

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7 Crucial Skills to Help You Earn a Six-Figure Salary

2. Perseverance To that end, our next piece of advice is to realize that ultimately earning six figures may take some time. It could take a pretty long time, actually. Even doctors, many of whom ultimately end up making six-figure salaries, spend years in school and in training in order to finally get to a higher income.

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7 Crucial Skills to Help You Earn a Six-Figure Salary

All of that said: it’s important to like what you’re doing. If perseverance is in the picture to get that salary you want, you want to enjoy your work.  Here’s where that survey on meaningfulness we cited above comes into play. If your work is in line with your interests, the grinding and working hard to reach your goals won’t feel so draining.

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7 Crucial Skills to Help You Earn a Six-Figure Salary

3. Negotiation This header might be a little misleading since we’re ultimately recommending more salary research here. But we’re recommending this research so that you can use it to your advantage when you’re negotiating your own salary. Here’s why. As you progress throughout your career, you need to know your general 

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7 Crucial Skills to Help You Earn a Six-Figure Salary

“market worth” so that you know how much money you should negotiate for as you accept promotions, earn raises, or change jobs.

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7 Crucial Skills to Help You Earn a Six-Figure Salary

4-5. Career Planning + Goal Setting We’re all for career transitions and winding career paths. We think that goal-setting is so helpful in these situations, especially if you’re facing what feels like the great unknown. But another time goal-setting is important is when you are on a relatively straightforward career path. If you plan to stay in your 

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7 Crucial Skills to Help You Earn a Six-Figure Salary

position or company, you may consider how goal-setting can benefit you financially. If a six-figure salary is your goal, set short-term and long-term goals that will guide you as you work up the ladder in a way that feels true to your interests and desires.

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7 Crucial Skills to Help You Earn a Six-Figure Salary

6. Skill-Building Most of the six-figure jobs out there require a college degree. Not all of them require a degree—but a lot of them do. This means that investing in your education is likely to pay off in the long run. That said, many higher-paying jobs utilize specialized skills, so establishing a pattern of professional development

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7 Crucial Skills to Help You Earn a Six-Figure Salary

as you advance through your career is another helpful step on the way to a higher salary. If it's not in the cards for you to go back to school to earn a bachelor's degree in a specific subject after-the-fact or to take on student debt, there are other (often very affordable) ways to invest in your professional skills. Many of these options can be taken on your own time 

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7 Crucial Skills to Help You Earn a Six-Figure Salary

via online classes, and many employers offer a stipend for this type of continuing education (ask HR if yours does).

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7 Crucial Skills to Help You Earn a Six-Figure Salary

7. Networking Hear us out. Networking may not directly impact your ability to earn a 6-figure salary or make you the next Bill Gates or Kylie Jenner. But establishing a good network can’t hurt. For starters, building relationships means that you’ll have a bigger network when you’re searching for a new (potentially higher-paying)

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7 Crucial Skills to Help You Earn a Six-Figure Salary

role. It works the other way too: networking gives you the opportunity to help others through your experience in a mentor-like capacity. It’s also key to network within your organization. It can show that you’re a team player or a go-to employee known for problem-solving. It can help you create a reputation for having a strong work ethic, something 

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7 Crucial Skills to Help You Earn a Six-Figure Salary

that managers would surely keep in mind during promotion times (or when writing a reference).

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