The median U.S. household income for 2017 was $61,372, but that amount only represents a small portion of what the top moneymakers in each state reap annually. Although you might earn more than the average income in your state, how much more would your salary need to be to place you among the highest earners?
Instead of grabbing your calculator, relax. GOBankingRates analyzed income data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey to determine what you need to earn to be in the top 10% of your state.
Last updated: Jan 8, 2019
51. West Virginia: $147,628
Earning just under $150,000 annually will snag you a spot within the top 10% in West Virginia. Leading earners in the Mountain State bring in 3.4 times the amount that median-income households earn.
50. Mississippi: $148,024
Like West Virginia, you don’t need to earn more than $150,000 to be in the top 10% of earners in Mississippi. But to bring in that kind of money on your own, you’ll likely need to be in the medical field. For example, nurse anesthetists in the state make an average of $159,430 annually as of May 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
49. Arkansas: $155,974
Even though Arkansas ranks within the bottom three on this list, its annual income in this category is almost $8,000 more than Mississippi’s. And, if you’re interested in ranking within the top 5% of earners in the state, you’ll only need to make $160,675 — just $4,701 more annually.
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48. Kentucky: $163,474
The top 10% of earners in Kentucky bank 3 1/2 times more than median-income households in the state.
47. Idaho: $163,598
Idaho and Kentucky run a close race when it comes to the amount needed to rank in the top 10% of earners — the difference is $124. And to rank in the top 5% of earners in both states, there’s only a $328 difference.
46. New Mexico: $163,613
Whether you’re living in Idaho or New Mexico, the threshold to rank as a top 10-percent earner is almost the same. One notable difference: You can get more house for your dollar in New Mexico than you can in Idaho, according to a separate GOBankingRates study.
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45. Alabama: $163,823
Alabama, aka The Heart of Dixie, is one of the states on the list that requires the least income to achieve top 10% earnings. The difference between it and the two preceding states on the list — Idaho and New Mexico — is only a couple hundred dollars.
44. South Carolina: $168,120
To be a top 10% earner in South Carolina, you’ll need to bring in at least 3.4 times the amount of income that the median household in the state does. To up your game and break the 5% threshold, you’ll need to rake in $174,555 annually.
43. Indiana: $168,427
Indiana and South Carolina are almost neck and neck when it comes to earnings of the top 10% — only $307 separate the two. As far as 5% earnings go, however, there’s more of a difference between the two: about $1,500.
42. Oklahoma: $169,347
Oklahoma also qualifies as one of the states that require the least income to be a top 10% earner — with the qualifying amount hovering just below $170,000. You’ll only need to earn 3.4 times more than the median household to rank as a top earner.
41. Montana: $170,588
Although it takes just over $170,000 to rank as a top 10% earner in the Treasure State, you won’t be able to keep as much of your earnings as in other states. According to a separate GOBankingRates study, Montana is one of the least tax-friendly states for retirees, with the seventh-highest income tax in the nation.
40. Maine: $171,382
Like Indiana and Idaho, the top 10% in Maine pull in 3.2 times more income than the median household in the state.
39. South Dakota: $172,070
South Dakota is like Maine in that those earning enough to place in the top 10% must pull in 3.2 times more income than the median household in the state. But in South Dakota, you can actually reach the top 5% of income earners with less income than what’s required in Maine — $176,511 compared to $178,516.
38. Louisiana: $173,418
To be in the top 10% of earners in the Pelican State, you’ll have to work a bit harder than the preceding states on this list. Ten-percenters earn 3.7 times more than median-income households. Plus, if you want to cross the top 5% threshold, you’ll have to exceed the 10% figure by almost $9,000 at $182,288.
37. Missouri: $174,940
Even though you’d have to earn over $1,500 more in Missouri over Louisiana to be in the top 10% of earners, it won’t take as much to exceed in other areas. For example, those in the top 10% of earners in Missouri pull in only 3.4 times more than the median household as compared to Louisiana’s 3.7.
36. Tennessee: $176,045
Even though living in Tennessee requires more money than you would need in Missouri to reach the top 10%, it takes $1,565 less to reach the top 5% in earnings.
35. Iowa: $176,355
To become one of the top 10% of earners in Iowa, you’ll have to bank over $176,000 annually. To reach those earnings on your own, you might want to consider working in one of these “boring” jobs that pay more.
34. Ohio: $177,090
Just over $177,000 will place you within the top 10% of earners in the Buckeye State. To cross the 5% threshold, you’ll need to earn $6,733 more, or $183,823.
33. Wyoming: $178,466
In Wyoming, the difference between what the median household brings in versus the top 10% is much less than almost every other state on this list. To go from a median-income earner to the top 10 percent, you’d only need to make 2.9 times more.
32. Nebraska: $178,638
Although Nebraska and Wyoming run a close race when it comes to the amount needed for top 10% earnings, Nebraska beats out Wyoming in other areas. For example, to rank in the top 5% of earners in Nebraska, you’d need to bring home $3,154 more than you would in Wyoming.
31. Wisconsin: $179,020
Although it takes less money to cross the boundary into the top 5% of earners than it does in Nebraska, don’t plan on saving on property taxes in either state. Wisconsin’s property tax rate ranks as the fifth-highest in the nation and Nebraska’s is the eighth-highest, according to a separate GOBankingRates study.
30. Michigan: $180,237
Like many other states on the list, you’d have to earn 3.4 times more income than the median household to rank in the top 10% of earners in Michigan.
29. North Carolina: $180,341
Just a little over $100 separates the earnings needed to be in the top 10% in North Carolina versus Michigan. But North Carolina requires their top 10% to earn 3.6 times more income than the median household as opposed to Michigan’s 3.4.
28. Nevada: $181,070
Although you can reach the top 10% of earners by banking a little over $180,000 in Nevada, a good chunk of your income might go to auto ownership costs. Nevada ranks as the No. 2 most expensive state to own a vehicle, according to a separate GOBankingRates study.
27. Vermont: $182,736
In Vermont, those ranking in the top 10% of income earners have to make 3.2 times more than the median household. And to reach the top 5% of earners, an annual salary of at least $192,323 is needed.
26. Kansas: $184,016
It takes more money to rank in the top 10% in Kansas than it does in Vermont, but ranking in the top 5% doesn’t. Kansas residents can earn $3,071 less to cross the 5% threshold compared to Vermont residents.
25. Arizona: $185,750
Like New Mexico, Kentucky and Mississippi, Arizonians must make 3 1/2 times more income than the median household in their state to qualify as the top 10%.
24. Oregon: $188,384
It takes thousands of dollars more to rank in the top 10% — and 5% — of earners in Oregon than it does in Arizona. But you only have to earn 3.4 times as much as the median household in Oregon to reach the top 10 percent instead of the 3 1/2 required in Arizona.
23. Florida: $190,482
Floridians, like Louisianans, have to pull in 3.7 times more income than the median household in their state to become a top 10% earner. But unlike Louisiana, Florida doesn’t charge income tax, which means more money in the bank.
22. Georgia: $192,500
To breach the threshold of the top 5% of income earners in Georgia, you’ll have to make more than $200,000 per year. And getting to the top 10% requires 3.6 times more income than the median household in the state.
21. Utah: $194,889
In Utah, the top 10% earn exactly three times more than the median household does. To qualify for the top 5% of earners, an annual salary of $202,202 is the magic figure.
20. Pennsylvania: $197,163
Pennsylvania is the last state on the list where you can qualify as a top 10% income earner for less than $200,000. To make that kind of bank, you’ll need to pull in at least 3 1/2 times what the state’s median households earn.
19. North Dakota: $200,780
Choosing to live in North Dakota means that you’ll have to make more than $200,000 per year to rank as a top 10% earner. Once there, however, you’ll only need a salary bump of a little less than $3,000 to qualify for the top 5%.
18. Rhode Island: $207,217
There’s quite a leap from the annual earnings required in North Dakota to those in Rhode Island to rank within the top 10% of earners — $6,437. When it comes to reaching the top 5%, the gap gets even larger. In North Dakota, it takes $203,744, whereas in Rhode Island, an annual salary of $214,529 is needed.
17. Delaware: $207,389
Qualifying as a top 10% in Delaware doesn’t require much more annual income than it does in Rhode Island. To have a chance at reaching this goal by yourself, you might want to consider working as a pediatrician with average annual earnings of $205,130, according to May 2017 estimates from the BLS.
16. Texas: $208,123
Although the amount required to reach the top 10% in Texas isn’t that much more than what’s required in Delaware, the amount needed to reach the top 5% is. In Texas, it takes $218,061 versus Delaware’s $211,732 to reach the top 5% of income earners — a total of $6,329 more.
15. Minnesota: $211,620
Top 10% income earners in Minnesota earn 3.2 times more than the median-income households in the state. But they also have to bear the strain of some of the costliest state income taxes in the nation.
14. Alaska: $215,913
Unlike any of the other states on this list, Alaska features the smallest difference between the amount median-income earners make and those who earn in the top 10% — only 2.8 times more.
13. New Hampshire: $217,369
New Hampshire residents who rank in the top 10% earn three times the amount that the median household pulls in.
12. Washington: $218,243
The wealthiest 10% in Washington rake in 3.3 times more than the median household, whereas the richest earners in New Hampshire only need to earn three times more.
11. Illinois: $218,688
Although the difference between what it takes to be in the top 10% in Illinois versus Washington is just a few hundred dollars, other more serious disparities exist. Overall, the cost of living in Washington is considerably more expensive than living in Illinois, according to another GOBankingRates study.
10. Colorado: $218,980
A recent GOBankingRates study examined the minimum salary needed to be happy in each U.S. state and found that Colorado’s magic number is $109,095 — over $100,000 below what it takes to rank within the top 10% of earners in the state.
9. Hawaii: $227,101
To be a part of the richest 10% in Hawaii, you’d need to earn $8,121 more than those in Colorado. The same holds true if your goal is to rank in the top 5% of earners: Those earners in Hawaii rake in over $10,000 more than the top 5% in Colorado.
8. Virginia: $236,287
Virginia is the last state on the list that doesn’t require earnings of $250,000 or more to rank in the top 10%. To rank in the top 5%, however, you will have to break that lofty threshold.
7. California: $250,413
California is the first state on the list to break the $250,000 threshold for both top 10% and top 5% earnings. In addition, the amount of money you have to earn to achieve 10% status is 3.7 times more than what the median household in the state makes.
6. Maryland: $252,745
The richest 10% in Maryland only have to pull in 3.2 times more than what earners in median households do.
5. New York: $253,089
The wealthiest 10% in New York rake in four times what earners in median households do.
4. Massachusetts: $260,362
To transition from median-earning status to someone who ranks in the top 10% in Massachusetts, you’ll need to bring home 3 1/2 times what that median household does.
3. New Jersey: $270,837
Like Massachusetts, you’ll need to earn 3 1/2 times more than the median earner in New Jersey to rank as a top 10% earner. But that’s where the similarities between the two states end. In Jersey, you’d need to earn over $10,000 more than you would in Massachusetts to qualify as one of the richest 10%.
2. Connecticut: $279,713
To rank in the top 10% of earners in this New England state with a high cost of living, you’ll need almost $280,000.
1. District of Columbia: $320,814
Topping the list is Washington, D.C., with a whopping salary of $320,814 needed to rank in the top 10% of earners. To reach this high level of earnings, you’ll need to bank 4.1 times the amount of the median D.C. household, which is also the highest amount on the list.
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Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the income needed to be among the top 10 percent of earners in each state by analyzing U.S. Census Bureau data from its 2017 American Community Survey, including aggregate household income, quintile mean income (quintile meaning fifths, or 20 percent intervals), quintile income lower-limits and median income.
About the Author
Cynthia Measom is a Texas-based writer specializing in finance, business, parenting and education. With almost a decade of online writing experience, her work has appeared on websites such as Chron.com, The Bump and The Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.