With the advent of the financial influencer wave, more people are comfortable discussing how much they make and coaching others to earn similarly using their resources and skillsets. One popular talking point is the elusive six-figure salary, which, admittedly, was not as common previously as it is today.
“Six figures” typically refers to an annual income of $100,000 or more.
The six-figure salary is a milestone many professionals aspire to reach as their careers progress and they gain experience. But how much is six figures, and can anyone achieve that salary scale?
What Is a Figure?
Mathematically speaking, a figure is a digit or number. But when discussing salary, not every number factors as a figure. Only the dollar amount listed on your paycheck counts.
So, for example, if you make $67,250 annually, you have a five-figure salary or are a five-figure earner. If you make $67,250.56 a year, you cannot count the 56 cents as two extra figures within this context.
What Is a 6-Figure Salary?
A “six-figure” amount signifies a number comprising six digits. In monetary terms, this typically ranges from $100,000 to $999,999. Therefore, a six-figure salary implies earnings of at least $100,000 annually. If someone makes $99,999 a year, it cannot be counted as a six-figure salary, even if a dollar short.
Usually, when people say they make six figures, they refer to the amount they earn per year before taxes.
What Is the Minimum Monthly Amount To Make 6 Figures?
A person must make a minimum of $8,333.33 monthly to have a six-figure salary. Calculate this amount by taking the annual salary and dividing it by 12 months.
If you want to know if a person makes six figures if they earn per hour, multiply their hourly wage by how many hours they work every week, and then multiply that total by 52. The result is their gross annual income.
To make six figures a year on an hourly income, you must earn at least $48.08 an hour, working 40 hours a week, at eight hours per day.
How Much Is 7, 8 and 9 Figures Numerically?
A seven-figure salary is when someone makes an annual income between one million and nine million nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars.
An eight-figure salary ranges between ten million and ninety-nine million nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars.
A nine-figure salary ranges between one hundred million dollars and nine hundred and ninety-nine million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars. Numerically, the numbers look like this:
- Seven Figures: $1,000,000 – $9,999,999
- Eight Figures: $10,000,000 – $99,999,999
- Nine Figures: $100,000,000 – $999,999,999
Is It Good To Make a 6-Figure Salary?
Making a 6-figure salary is a solid accomplishment. However, how much that money influences your quality of life depends on your location, spending habits, taxes and general expenses.
Additionally, a person who makes $999,999 or even $200,000 a year has a different experience than a person who makes $100,000, even if they are all six-figure earners.
Remember the Cost of Living
In states like California or New York, you have limited spending opportunities due to the high cost of living. For example, if you make $100,000 yearly, your monthly wage is $8,333.33. If you pay $3,000 for rent and $4,000 for other expenses like car payments, health insurance and food, you have $1,333.33 to spend — and that’s not factoring in taxes.
However, if you make $200,000 a year, your monthly wage is $16,667. With the same monthly expenses as the example above, you still have $8,667 left to spend before taxes.
Keep in mind that a significant portion of your wages goes to taxes. And in states that have both income and state tax, like New York, you may not have the same spending power after deductions as in other places such as Florida or Kentucky.
Did You Know?
Once considered the gold standard of success during the 1950s, the increasing cost of living, pay cuts and job cuts plaguing the American economy are reducing the value of that figure. One Insider report mentions that a $100,000 salary in the United States is middle-class income. Newsweek corroborates this claim, with one article indicating that 42% of Americans who make over $100,000 a year live paycheck to paycheck.
How Many People Make 6-Figure Salaries in the US?
A minority of Americans make over $100,000 a year. According to Zippia, roughly 33.6% of Americans make six figures annually. And 15% of those earn between $100,000 to $150,000.
While six-figure salaries are not as rare as previously, most Americans still make less than that annually. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the real median household income in the United States was $70,784, down slightly from $71,186 in 2020.
But this also means that jumping from the median five-figure salary to a six-figure one is not very difficult, especially if you are looking for a job change. It ultimately depends on your skills and career choice.
Do You Need a Degree To Earn 6 Figures?
It’s no secret that people with college degrees earn more, on average than those with a high school degree.
According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, men with bachelor’s degrees make $900,000 more in median lifetime earnings than men with high school degrees.
As for women, those with bachelor’s degrees make $630,000 more in median lifetime earnings than high school graduates.
The good news is that despite these numbers, you can still make a six-figure salary even if you don’t have a college degree. Below are some jobs that pay in the six figures for college and high school graduates.
6-Figure Careers Requiring a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher
- Median salary: $126,298
- Degree: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
- Duties: Working with animals to diagnose illnesses, provide treatment, and administer vaccinations and medications.
- Median salary: $117,188
- Degree: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- Duties: Medical professionals who care for and examine patients, perform diagnostics, support physicians and offer health advice.
3. Corporate Lawyer
- Median salary: $139,880
- Degree: Juris Doctor Degree
- Duties: Providing legal counsel to corporations, overseeing transactions and designing compliant company policies.
- Median salary: $126,588
- Degree: Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (PharmD)
- Duties: Administering prescription drugs, offering their expertise in the safe use of medications, and conducting wellness and health screenings.
6-Figure Careers That Do Not Require a Bachelor’s Degree
1. Owner-Operator Truck Driver
- Median salary: $320,822
- Degree Minimum: High School
- Duties: Own a truck or trucking business, lease out trucks to other drivers, and transport goods through local or state lines.
2. Air Traffic Controller
- Median salary: $129,750
- Degree Minimum: High School, but you must pass the FAA air traffic pre-employment test
- Duties: Directing the flow of air traffic, using radars and computer technology, assisting with take-off and landing.
3. Sales Director
- Median salary: $195,100
- Degree Minimum: High School or Associate Degree
- Duties: Managing and overseeing the sales operations of a corporation or company, meeting sales targets, leading teams, determining product pricing.
4. Commercial Pilot
- Median salary: $134,630
- Degree Minimum: High school, license, meeting FAA requirements
- Duties: Charter flights, schedule flights, aircraft maintenance, flying helicopters or private jets.
Remember that making six figures takes hard work, but the quality of life enhancements are well worth the training and the effort you make to achieve your goal.
Knowing how much six figures is helps you determine what career you want and how to plan to get there. Whether you have a college degree or are a high school graduate, you have options to jumpstart your career and make the wage you desire with some planning and effort.
Data is accurate as of June 6, 2023, and is subject to change.
The article above was refined via automated technology and then fine-tuned and verified for accuracy by a member of our editorial team.
Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.
- Business Insider. 2021. "Earning 6 Figures Isn't Enough to Buy the American Dream Anymore."
- Newsweek. 2022. "42 Percent in U.S. Earning Six Figures Live Paycheck to Paycheck."
- Zippia. "What percentage of Americans make over $100,000 a year?"
- Census Bureau. 2022. "Income in the United States: 2021."
- Indeed. 2021. "26 Jobs With Six-Figure Salaries."
- CNBC. 2022. "Jobs that pay over $100K a year and don't require a bachelor's degree."
- Prehired. 2022. "How To Earn a 6-Figure Income Without a College Degree."
- Salary. 2022. "Sales Director Salary."