How To Make Six Figures A Year At Almost Any Age

How to make six figures at any age

If you want to make six-figures, know that you can if you want to. Nothing in this world is stopping you with the right money mindset to get rich. I'll teach you how to make six figures a year at almost any age.

I believe $250,000 is the ideal six-figure income for an individual for maximum happiness. $350,000 is the ideal household income for a family of up to four. Inflation is really forcing households to earn more money just to run in place.

At these income levels, you're earning a healthy six figures to buy a lot of what you want. But you're not earning a super-high six figure income that takes a lot of work and gets taxed like crazy.

Further, taxes might be increased for individuals making over $400,000 and married couples making over $450,000. If you're already working 60+ hours a week and miserable, paying even more taxes won't feel great.

I've been making six figures since my second year in investment banking in 2000. Earning a six figure income helped me achieve financial independence at age 34 in 2012. Today, my passive investment income generates roughly $340,000 a year to take care of my wife and two children.

If you want to learn how to earn a six figure income at almost any age, you've come to the right place! After earning six-figures at work for 12 years, I now earn six-figures online.

Skills You Need To Get A Six-Figure Salary

If you have a high IQ, that's great! But, intelligence alone does not guarantee success in life. If you want to make a six-figure income, there are a set of core skillsets you must acquire first.

Let's Start With Some Basic Necessities To Earn Six-Figures

1) Desire To Make Six-Figures

If you want to make six figures, you must desire to make a lot of money. Mr. Miyagi said it best to Daniel-san, “You Karate do “yes” or Karate do “no,” you Karate do “guess so” get squished like grape.”

2) Effort To Work Harder Than Average

Unfortunately for the lazy, you're actually going to have to try hard at first. Maybe you'll wake up earlier than everyone else. Or you'll start to network like a mad person. Hopefully, you'll stop making excuses. No effort, no results earning six figures.

3) Have The Desire For More Knowledge

The more you educate yourself, the easier things will be. Lucky for you, you're reading this post and likely other great financial publications as well.

I spent the past 13 years working in finance. Then I got my MBA from Berkeley. I considered getting a Ph.D., but felt it was too much.

I've written over 2,500 personal finance articles since 2009. You're in good hands here on Financial Samurai! You're especially good if you subscribe to my free weekly newsletter where I recap the most important financial information and share my thoughts.

4) Optimism To Make More

Positive people succeed more in life. Optimism is what will drive you to keep going when things turn sour. Optimism will make you do great things because you believe things will improve. If you have optimism, you will always find the right direction.

5) A Fantastic Personality

At the very minimum, it's important to be nice if you want to make over $100,000 a year in income. At the maximum, your charisma will make believers out of others. People will be drawn to you and naturally want to start helping you and doing business with you. Be nice, but also be respectful. 

There will be haters everywhere. Embrace them. Learn how to develop a better personality so more people will follow, support, and like you.

Get A Six-Figure Income At Any Age

Now that we have the basics out of the way, let's explore the many possibilities of making over $100,000 at any age. I truly believe anybody who wants to make more can make more. This post isn't meant to be controversial at all. But, as always, feel free to share your thoughts below.

High School & College Years

It's important not to be a donkey and get mediocre grades. If you're just coasting with a “B” or worse, you're going to end up going to a “B” college or worse. At your “B” college, if you are mediocre again, well then you are going to be stuck with mediocre opportunities.

Do you really think you're going to be able to compete with the student who gets straight A's in high school who then gets straight A's at Columbia for the same jobs and opportunities post graduation? No. A rational employer will choose the straight-A student over the B-student 9 times out of 10 all else being equal.

If you're curious, the median income for Ivy League graduates 20 years after graduation is roughly $160,888. So going to a top college is a good predictor of making more money. However, you can go to about 75-100 colleges today that provide similar income and career upward mobility to the Ivy League schools.

However, more important than where you attend college is your major. Majors that pay the most are in engineering, medicine, and finance.

Ivy League schools mid-career median pay is six figures, or between $150,000 to $161,000 a year 20 years after graduation
Source: PayScale, USNWR

Top 5 Industries With Six-Figure Jobs

Now that you are a terrific student, all you've got to do is identify industries that often pay six figures within two years out of school. Many of the industries pay over $100,000 to start now.

Here are the top-five industries paying six-figures:

  • Venture capital
  • Investment banking
  • Management/strategic consulting
  • High tech
  • Internet

Therefore, go apply to the top five companies in each field. For example, the companies listed below are offer opportunities to get a six-figure salary.

Venture Capital: Sequoia, Benchmark, Accel, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Kleiner Perkins.

Investment Banking: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Barclays, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Strategic Consulting: Bain, BCG, McKinsey, Monitor, Arthur D. Little, Booz Allen Hamilton, LEK, Oliver Wyman, A.T. Kearney.

Tech/Software: Apple, Oracle, Salesforce, Microsoft, HP.

Internet: Google, Facebook, eBay, Paypal, AirbnB, Dropbox, Quora, Uber, Slack, Pinterest, Netflix.

Related: Should I Work In Investment Banking, Technology, Or At A Startup?

Even More Six-Figure Industries

IT Consulting/Accounting: KPMG, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers (takes longer to break $100,000, but a high certainty before 30 if you start out of undergrad)

Oil, Mining, Commodities Trading:  Vitol Group, BHP Billington, Glencore International, Cargill Group, Koch Industries, Trafigura, Archer Daniels Midland Co, Gunvor International, Noble Group, Bunge, Phibro

Computer & Movie Animation: Pixar Studios (Toy Story), Weta (Lord Of The Rings), Blizzard (World of War Craft)

Engineering: Mechanical engineering, Electrical engineering, Software engineering, Structural engineering. Engineers have the starting highest paid salaries around. They can find jobs at many tech, internet, software, research, and construction companies.

Health Care: Doctors, Hospital Administrators, Specialists, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, etc.

Classical Music: The San Francisco Symphony's median salary is $160,000. We know this because they went on strike on March 13, 2013. They felt underpaid by 5% compared to their LA and Chicago peers! 5% and they go on strike!

Police Officers and Firefighters: Cops and firefighters with a couple decades worth of experience regularly earn over six figures a year. Add on their well deserved lifelong pensions and you've got a recipe for financial success! Retired SF Chief of Police Heather Fong makes $200,000+ a year from her pension for example.

Big Government: Reach any top tier position in the Federal or State government and you will make six figures a year a long with a nice pension. In fact, there are more than 450,000 Federal employees making over $100,000 a year. Prison guards make $150,000-$200,000+ with overtime. San Francisco janitors and elevator technicians make over $270,000 a year.

Government Contractors: The average total compensation for a Navy, Army, and Air Force contractor is $180,000 according according to a 2016 report by the Defense Business Board.

Education: Principals, Head Coaches, professors. Professors actually have one the best combination of riches and status today.

Real estate: There are plenty of real estate agents who make six figures a year. With commission staying stubbornly high at 5%, all you've got to do is sell $4 million worth of real estate a year to earn six figures (part of your commissions goes to the brokerage firm).

Percentage of households earning more than $100,000 from 1980 to 2022
Source: IBISWorld 2022

Make Six Figures Through Passive Income

Another goal you should have is to make six figures through your passive investment income. Meaningful passive investment income takes forever to generate, which is why you need to get in the mindset ASAP.

My current favorite passive income investment is through real estate crowdfunding. I love owning a physical asset that I don't have to manage. The best real estate platforms today are Fundrise, for all investors and CrowdStreet for accredited investors. Both are free to sign up and explore. Before investing, make sure to do extensive due diligence on each sponsor. Understanding each sponsor's track record and experience is vital.

I've invested $810,000 in real estate crowdfunding so far. My goal is to diversify my expensive SF real estate holdings and earn more 100% passive income. I plan to continue dollar-cost investing into private real estate for the next decade.

It's taken me over 21 years to amass enough capital to generate $310,000 a year in passive income. My ultimate goal is to regularly earn $350,000 a year in passive income since I've now got two kids and neither my wife or I work.

Financial Samurai passive income investments 2023 - How to make six-figures in passive income

Make Six-Figures A Year In Your 20s

So there we have it. Great grades, great schools, and working in particular industries will make you $100,000 a year in your 20s. This post names roughly 30 firms which employ tens of thousands. There are many more firms out there which pay just as well.

The great thing is that if you stick it out at any of these firms for 10+ years, there’s a great chance you will be a millionaire in your 30s and a multi-millionaire in your 40s.

What If Your Grades Were Terrible?

Get A 6 Figure Salary - How To Make Six Figures A Year At Almost Any Age
An Elevator Technician makes $284,241 in San Francisco. Source: Transparent California

Let's say you've got some work experience under your belt. However, you just aren't satisfied with your career or your profession.

You didn't do particularly well in school and read this post a little too late.

You could always go for an elevator technician job in SF and make close to $300K. There are so many regular jobs paying six figures if you swallow your pride.

However, I understand not everybody wants to sweep floors and clean toilets to make a high income. The good news is there are many other options.

Go To Business School To Make Six Figures

How else might you figure out how to make six figures a year? You've got a second chance at a six-figure salary by simply going to business school. Again, you can't just go to any business school. You've got to go to one of the top 20 business schools given the competition, supply, and cost.

Lucky for you, the top business schools let in thousands of students a year, so no worries!

Top 15 Business Schools: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Penn, Columbia, Dartmouth, Berkeley, Chicago, Northwestern, Michigan, Virginia, Yale, Duke, and Cornell.

Get in any of the above schools. Then enter any of the five industries I mentioned. If you do, you'll likely make a median total pay package of over $100,000 your very first year.

Five years out, you'll probably make double. You can attend business school at age 25 or 55. So long as you go to one of the best schools, most will make well over six figures upon graduation.

Even if you don't go into one of the aforementioned fields, you will still probably make six figures a year in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola), retail, and hospitality industries.

Related: If You Want To Be Happy, Making Over $400,000 A Year Won't Help

Many Other Money Making Options Abound

There are plenty of different avenues you can take to breach that magical six-figure mark. Doctors and lawyers routinely make multiple six figures. Longshoremen (dockworker) average $120,000 a year as we discovered during the Oakland longshoremen strike in 2001 and 2015. 

After 20 years on the police force and fire department, the majority of our brave men and women make $100,000+. Not only that, their capitalized pensions are worth millions!

Marrying for money sometimes works, but you'll have to often sleep with a less than desirable looking spouse. I'm not sure if that's worth it to have a six-figure household.

You can start your own business or work two jobs. Making an online income from home is one of the best ways to make six figures.

I started Financial Samurai back in 2009. Three years later, I was able to leave my investment banking job to work on this site full time. You never know what you might be able to do. At the very least, register your name online and build your brand.

Today, it is vital to own online real estate. As we all learned from the pandemic, having a website that cannot be shut down is huge. Not only will you build your brand with your own website, you can also potentially generate an extra amount of income.

Cultivate your X-Factor before you hate your job and can't escape.

How you can make six figures blogging
CLICK the graph to learn how to start your own site in under 15 minutes today.

Visualize The Money And It Will Come

Finally, to help you visualize your path to $100,000 or more a year, simply break down the annual income by month and then by day. Doesn't $8,333 a month sound a little less daunting? How about making $274 a day? That's surely possible isn't it? Of course it is! Making six-figures is possible for all of you readers.

If you are happy with making $99,999 a year, more power to you. Just remember that your happiness, as measured by income will continue to grow until about $250,000. Then your happiness fades because of government persecution and the bitter populace who want to keep you down.

And if you're really smart, you'll learn how to negotiate a severance from a job you hate before moving onto your next great opportunity.

In 2012, I was able to negotiate a severance worth over $550,000 to take my time building this site stress-free. Always be thinking ahead before making any drastic career moves.

Once you've mastered making six figures a year, you can then shoot to make a million dollars a year or more if you want to!

Make Six Figures Through Real Estate

Real estate is my favorite way to achieve financial freedom. It is a tangible asset that is less volatile, provides utility, and generates income. Stocks are fine, but stock yields are low and stocks are much more volatile.

In an inflationary environment, you want to own real estate with a fixed-rate mortgage. Over time, inflation whittles down the cost of your mortgage and helps boost the value of your real estate. This one-two combination helps the average person get wealthy over time.

Take a look at the two best real estate crowdfunding platforms. They are both free to sign up and explore.

Fundrise: A way for all investors to diversify into real estate through private funds with just $10. Fundrise has been around since 2012 and manages over $3.3 billion for 400,000+ investors. 

The real estate platform invests primarily in residential and industrial properties in the Sunbelt, where valuations are cheaper and yields are higher. The spreading out of America is a long-term demographic trend. For most people, investing in a diversified fund is the way to go. 

CrowdStreet: A way for accredited investors to invest in individual real estate opportunities mostly in 18-hour cities. 18-hour cities are secondary cities with lower valuations and higher rental yields. These cities also have higher growth potential due to job growth and demographic trends. 

If you are a real estate enthusiast with more time, you can build your own diversified real estate portfolio with CrowdStreet. However, before investing in each deal, make sure to do extensive due diligence on each sponsor. Understanding each sponsor's track record and experience is vital.


I've invested $810,000 in real estate crowdfunding so far. My goal is to diversify my expensive SF real estate holdings and earn more 100% passive income. I plan to continue dollar-cost investing into private real estate for the next decade.

Make six figures a year through real estate

Wealth Management Recommendation

Sign up for Empower, the web's #1 free wealth management tool to get a better handle on your finances. When you make six figures, you need to track your finances even more.

Run your investments through their award-winning Investment Checkup tool to see exactly how much you are paying in fees. I was paying $1,700 a year in fees I had no idea I was paying.

After you link all your accounts, use the Empower Retirement Planning calculator. It pulls your real data to give you as pure an estimation of your financial future as possible.

I've been using Empower since 2012. As a result, I have seen my net worth skyrocket during this time thanks to better money management.

Retirement Planning Calculator
How does your retirement stack up?

Buy The Best-Selling Personal Finance Book

If you want to earn six figures, purchase a hard copy of my instant Wall Street Journal bestseller, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom. The book is jam packed with unique strategies to help you build your fortune while living your best life.

Even if you have a six-figure job, you may want to do something else with your one and only life. That's what happened to me when I was making a $250,000 base salary in 2012. I wanted to do something new because I was bored.

Buy This, Not That is a #1 new release and #1 best seller on Amazon. By the time you finish BTNT you will gain at least 100X more value than its cost. After spending 30 years working in finance, writing about finance, and studying finance, I'm certain Buy This, Not That will change your life for the better!

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How To Make Six Figures A Year At Almost Any Age is a Financial Samurai original post. Join 65,000+ others and sign up for my free weekly newsletter below.

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417 thoughts on “How To Make Six Figures A Year At Almost Any Age”

    1. Feel free! And congrats on graduating!

      You can join 60,000+ others and sign up for my free weekly newsletter here. I talk about everything finance so you won’t miss the most important things.

  1. 2013 is when I googled “how to make six figures” and it led me to this blog. That same year I went from 50K – 94K and then 2 years later over 100K and then 3 years later 200K in the field of IT Project Management. I firmly believe this happened because my mind was fixated on making 6 figures and I always promised myself that once I hit the six figures I’d come back here and share. Now my goal is to make Seven figures and when I do I’ll be sure to come back to Financial Samurai to share. Thank you for creating this blog it really solidified my desire to make 6 figures and I did it. See you in the Millions soon!

  2. I have worked 16 1/2 years with the government and owe more than $200,000 due to mortgage and school loan. I have 3 1/2 more years to go before mandatory retirement due to being in law enforcement and only allowed to work up to a certain age. I majored in Sociology (bad choice) and had to go back to school to get a Masters in order to have a good job. Basically I feel like I will need to work for the rest of my life as I have no savings only a house that is paid off and another house that is very expensive to maintain. When I retire my plans are to work as a full-time licensed counselor as I presently do this on a part-time basis while in full-time law enforcement. The state I live in is Louisiana and I find it is one of the worst states to live in as it is very expensive and so many people are thrown into jail for minor offenses. I feel like this is how this state makes its money. I am not originally from here, and hope to move once retired, but no money to move. I like the job I do, but the stress of not making enough money to pay the more than 15 bills I have each month is overwhelming me and I feel like I need some desperate help. I hesitate to sell the house I live in right now, although that would be the easiest solution to get me back on track. Its hard for me to let go of that house, but I know that would eliminate much of my headache, but I would still be sad, because I think I would truly miss that home. What would be other options?

  3. Hi there,

    Thanks so much for this. This kind of article opens my mind to what is possible. I know I can get there. I don’t need to get there. But I know I can, even if I started late and had a rough ‘trot’ due to unemployment out of university (great degrees too…What a rip of they can be…).

    I am 28, in Sydney. Mostly in Comms areas. Don’t love it and my career hasn’t been ‘great’ compared to some university peers. I was in teaching/acting for a while. Background is in foreign affairs.

    My hope is to get into e-learning.

    I want to build a way to earn passive income. I will not be able to afford a lifestyle I can only dream about any other way. I am not naturally ‘good’ at business or investing (or poker haha).

    Would love for you to show me a way. I won’t be able to afford a child, and my partner is earning minimum wage but in horticulture which he loves. We want to build beautiful gardens and make the world better. I don’t like to splurge on too many material things. But I’d like to show my family I can do it. I’d like to retire earlier so I can ‘be’ more and have a more balanced lifestyle.

    I know everyone does… But I KNOW I can do it… Why not me? Just because I’ve seen myself in a certain light.

  4. I am 52 years old and make approximately $42k per year. I have a college degree from an Ivy League university and 27 years of experience in the medical publishing field as an editor. I have never been unemployed or fired. I work about 55 hours per week and the rest of my time is spent taking care of kids and house, cooking, shopping, etc. I recently lost 10k in a real estate investment deal. If I can make $100k as a janitor I would change jobs in a heartbeat, but the odds of making that happen are very small. I have started 2 blogs and a YouTube channel but never got any money from them. The only way to make six figures is to be good at sales, get a Stem degree, or be a good lawyer. All other paths have a really low chance of success. Life really is unfair when 22 year olds who can build a website make twice as much money as people who can read and write. Once my kids are off to college I am quitting the rat race and moving to a commune, where I will work fewer hours with much less stress while having the same quality of life.

  5. What about real estate?! I’m 33 years old and made $200k this year as a real estate agent and my real estate investments alone are poised to make over $60k gross per year. I wouldn’t have thought to invest inreal estate had I not been an agent!

  6. I work in a healthcare industry. I am 38 M and make 120k. I did my MS and PhD in engineering.

    I max out my 401k, HSA every year. No kids. Sole earner. Single. Don’t plan to get married. My pension will not be vested until next 2 years.

    How am I doing? I only get 2.5% raise every year. Would it be advisable to switch jobs and forego pension? How much would you factor pension benefit in today’s times?

    1. That’s really sad life that you have…
      No kids, no plan to marry but concerned if making enough? Unless you are planing to leave your savings to charities…

      1. it’s called survival, we live in one of the most capitalistic societies. Eat or be eaten. What’s sad is you cannot live comfortable in America without making over 6 figures.

  7. Here is another incredible article Sam posted!

    This is exactly the mindset people need to take when looking to choose a career path, and when developing an action plan for the future. I wish this was taught in schools more frequently. Desire, effort, knowledge, optimism, and personality are five strong characteristics of successful individuals portrayed throughout their entire career path, regardless of their industry. Knowing and understanding the scope of different industries, playing to your own personal strengths/traits, and monetizing what brings you fulfillment will create financial freedom in your future. Like Sam say’s first you must visualize what you want.

    “If you can see it in your mind, you’re going to hold it in your hand”. The ability to conceive –> believe –> achieve is a simple pathway to materialize your goals in life. Goals are just dreams with a deadline. Subscribe to more of Sam’s content to always receive the best information with insightful help from an industry expert. I strongly encourage any one interested in investments that provide a health return to research multifamily real estate investing.

    Thank you again Sam for the detailed content, and don’t forget to look out for his next post!

  8. We’re at an interesting point in time where multiple healthcare, engineering, and computer science jobs have salaries approaching 100k. I know several people with salaries are just over that psychological mark. I wouldn’t be surprised if some employers round up or down because of the six figure cache. I know several people who have just passed that mark in those fields with about 6-15 years experience.

  9. Sam,

    All this sounds great and is likely true but starting a blog that generates worthy income seems like it is reserved for folks like yourself with degree’s from Berkeley or other prestigious backgrounds. How does an average Joe make income blogging without credentials. I would love to begin that path but how realistic is blogging for income?


  10. Thanks for this super informative article Sam… really. It has given me HOPE. I’ve been getting really down on myself lately because I’ve been thinking how all of my twenties ( I’m 29 1/2 now.. APPROACHING 30 ) I put off school and never finished, just spent my time traveling, backpacking, creating some great experience and memories yes…

    But doing NOTHING for my future. The ONLY thing I have is almost 10 years in D2D and over the phone sales experience.
    ( Directv/ ATT – Software- Fine Art – Commercial Energy Efficiency- and very random…. now I’m teaching English in China ‍♂️)

    ANY advice would seriously be appreciated… feel lost , slightly hopeless and unaccomplished approaching my 30s….

    1. You have experience in sales. There are sales roles that can pay in the six figure range. Furthermore, if you moved up into sales management, you’d definitely be making that mark and then some.

  11. Jonas Brother Paul

    In life, regardless of what anyone says, the money you make, the happier you are. Why? You have less stress to deal with as far as getting bills paid. You can buy anything you want, eat anywhere you want, do whatever you want without restrictions. Money really does equal happiness. You will have more people who want to be your friend. You will get more respect from others. So you need to work hard early on and after you start making well over six figures, you can let that money work for you while you sit back and relax. Of course, if you want to be happier, keep working to turn that six figures into seven, eight, and nine figures and beyond.

    1. with higher income comes more and more intense WORK and responsibility. FEW are those who can reconcile all of that. Most I know that earn HIGH income are fake people. They do not have real families, their children are kept by others not raised and taught by them.
      Decide what you are willing to sacrifice in life to be “wealthy”. Be careful HOW you define wealth because you may get what you forgot what comes with it.
      I know too many who screw the little people to get what you are seeking. This is especially TRUE when one looks at the property investment scene. I know tens of “investors” who go through huge gyrations to assure their profit. I know the tens of people they left unpaid, the children of whom had nothing to eat. Those profited at the EXPENSE of others.
      Be careful what you wish for, for you may become that which is despised by all.

  12. Hey Sam, love this article, especially the part on basic necessities. I agree with your assessment of some of the basic factors in achieving a 6 figure or greater income.

    To me, without desire, effort, knowledge, optimism, and personality you will never achieve this level of income. Throughout my career, I’ve met several individuals who had some of these but not others and they stagnated in their career. And that includes some of the brightest people I’ve met who just didn’t have the personality to achieve the highest levels of success in their career.

  13. For anyone deciding on a major I would highly recommend reading and rereading this thread unless you want to graduate school and earn minimum wage for 40 hours a week while working 60 hours. That is what my liberal arts major got me. Think about the fun of graduating college and making less than a high school kid. Because of my crappy pay I missed out on several wonderful investing opportunities (google, amazon and at the economic downturn AIG) because I had no net disposable income to speak of for a solid 5 years.

    I had a friend who married a Finance major who was a couple of years ahead of me in another state school. Laugh if you want but at the time I’d never heard of a major in Finance. Her brilliant (now ex-husband) achieved retirement by the time he was 32. He lived very modestly in a LCOL area and socked it away like a squirrel. He had very similar principles to what Sam states in this blog. I was utterly clueless at the time and happy to be attending college and getting a degree. I did listen to his ideas, they soaked in and made sense and it was the first time I’d heard such a philosophy. Most people I knew and grew up around did not religiously save and spent most of their income.

    The other part of my opportunity was moving away from the central US so that I would no longer have to deal with the overt sexism and hearing grumbling from co-workers and even during interviews that I would find a husband and quit. This is something no man has to deal with. Women in their 20’s in the central US can have a really tough time finding a workplace that will take them seriously. If you are a remotely attractive female it is assumed you will marry a man with money because all women want a rich husband and a family not a career. Such is the mindset in the area. I would recommend even more for women to pursue a STEM degree of some kind.

    It may be radical but I say go to school to become a professional or for the majors provided earlier in the link. Check out the pay prior to making a decision. Or undergo training for a specific career such as plumbing, etc. If you’re a woman who doesn’t want to go to college look at the options for men. There are a bunch that pay quite well (waste management, plumber, carpenter, electrician, government, military come to mind) and stay away from the traditionally female careers (daycare, caretaker, etc.) because they pay squat.

    If you’re really dead set on liberal arts then minor in it and pick a major that will be lucrative. If that still isn’t acceptable then a minor that is lucrative. It may be what separates you from the liberal arts majors making minimum wage. When I graduated they were a dime a dozen and it is probably worse now. Whether the world likes it or not the perception seems to be liberal arts majors can’t cut it as a STEM or similar and you’ll have to work really hard to prove yourself. I’m finally at the $100K mark but 15 years later than I hoped so retirement will not be early for me. I missed the very important years of saving in my 20’s. If I wasn’t good at critical thinking then there is no way I would have made it this far. My MBTI being a INTJ gives me an incredible advantage in the workplace but definitely not as a female. I do work in a STEM field now but I live on a coast so cost of living is considerably higher than central US. If I can manage to save 1.5 million for retirement I will be ecstatic. If I had majored in Finance, etc. then it is highly probable I would be retired today and could be maximizing my love of liberal arts as a hobby. If not retired yet it would be due to a choice to stay in the workforce and the pressure to work and save would be off or minimized.

    Of course, if you have a trust fund and business acumen then start a business as a liberal arts major if desired.

    Your son has every advantage in the world, you will keep him informed and he has the internet at his disposal. And if you do move to the central part of the US he won’t have to endure sexism. I’d say he is batting 1000.

    1. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your stories. It’s definitely going to be a tough battle out there, and I plan to keep the site going for as long as possible to give myself and my son options.

      1. You’re welcome Sam, thanks for replying and taking the time to share your wisdom with the internet. I really hope those looking into college or starting their careers read your blog and appreciate it.

    2. Arlene villalobos

      WOW thank you for that insight I am jotting notes right now. I’m 24, Female and have no idea how I’m going to make it with my major. I’m in my 3rd year of my undergrad for psychology but I dont see myself making any money there. I’m not sure what I’m going to so but I appreciate the tips!

      1. Alvin Centrell Taylor

        two options (if you want to get into the 6 figure club):

        1. After you get your bachelors degree in psyc, then go on to law school.

        2. Continue on and get your Ph.D in psyc

        3. Start a business or side hustle

    3. A Young Man

      Remember, that no matter how big your car is, how big your home is, how large your bank account is… our graves will be the same size. Stay humble. Live the life you enjoy now, not the fantasy of later.

      Tomorrow is an illusion
      Yesterday is history
      Today is the reality. It is full of tests.

      1. Exactly! Too many people miss that one. Nothing wrong with making money, but idolizing money is a DEAD end. Feed your soul.o

  14. 3.85 gpa in computer engineering at a “B” school because they offered me a full ride. was wondering if you think it’s possible to break into venture capital?

    1. Sure, anything is possible. I think going to a school with a full scholarship is amazing. Just have to network and go to the meet ups and do song called emailing and so forth. But getting into venture-capital is hard for everybody from every school.

  15. I attended a private prep school in the 90’s and my teachers attempted to brainwash me that college was the only way to make it in life. I went ahead and applied to college because that’s what I was told to do got into a top university, couldn’t stand it and immediately dropped out first semester to enlist in the U.S Army as a paratrooper. I chose Military Intelligence as my MOS. I did 4 years active duty fulfilled my contract and got out in 2005 with a Top Secret/SCI security clearance and skillsets that were and still are in huge demand in the defense sector. My first job at 23 years old I was offered 130k annual to go overseas in support of the Department of the Army. Once there I learned I was making peanuts. I quickly got smart, marketed myself towards higher paying defense contractors and was earning 200k-300k annual by 26 years old with the Cheney years in full swing (even after Obama first got elected). The defense sector took a big hit when Obama won his 2nd term but we have since recovered I now work only 6 months a year and pull in around 125k annual. Dropping out of college, joining the military and learning in demand skillsets was the smartest thing I ever did. No college debt and a great career doing something interesting that I have a lot of passion for. I’m reading a lot about those in the oil industry with similar stories – love Mike Rowe too he gets it.

  16. Sage master

    Basically I live in a poor country so I can’t use any of the opportunities you mentioned above, however I liked the idea of starting a profitable website but my biggest problem is that I don’t have good knowledge of computers, internet and programming.

  17. Michael Cape

    Its all relative to what you need, I was in Sales (Corp 401k and Pension) right out of college and made a 200k a in the early 90’s with consistency then had years where I made 1m in my early 30’s. However I hated it. I was smart and banked it in the lucrative Boston Real Estate market and in my late 30’s left sales and took a more boring desk job with less travel and more time for my kids. I made about 100k +/- a year for but put together a nice traditional pension. In my early 50’s, after my kids graduated college (Yes I did pay) I finally took my graduate degree (Masters in Urban Planning) and put it to work as a planner in a suburban town, where my staring comp dropped to 65k, now in my late 50’s I am the Dir of Planning for a small city making about 160k and happy in my work for the 1st time ever! Also the benefits working in government are 10x what they ever were in Corp America. Do what you love

  18. This is an insightful post. For 95% plus of readers, their job is the most important asset they have. So it is all about the sector, employer (go as elite as possible), and skills you target. Choose correctly, and you can get rich. Simple as that. The trick is believing you can actual get a job with an elite employer. That is more a mindset issue than anything else. Cheers!

    Sam exemplifies this. Getting on with GS hugely accelerated everything else that followed.

  19. Michael CPO, From The far side of the planet

    Overseas teachers can make a 100 thousand plus … not mention educational admin …

  20. Sam it’s 2018 and I’m 50. Too bad for me I didn’t see this article back in 2010. I had good grades in High School, but never made it through college.

    What advice can you give to a guy who wants to only work 10 more years?

  21. Regrettably a Social Worker

    I would love to hear some perspectives / opinions / suggestions.
    I have never struggled with grades. Foolishly, as a high school senior at the top of my class, I chose a small private liberal arts school to attend for undergraduate studies. Even worse, I majored in the humanities, and obtained a Bachelors in Social Work / minor in Spanish. Since a masters takes only one year if you have your BSW, I obtained my MSW directly after graduating.

    I am extraordinarily fortunate- I have no debt. However, I’m now seeing what foolish choices I’ve made. Coming out of school, I am working a 36k/ year job as a case manager (I live in a low cost of living Southern state). I want for nothing, but I live with my partner and have no dependents or debt to pay off. I know that once either of those come into the picture I will be financially hurting.

    Currently, I’m saving half of my paychecks off of the top as they come in (around 1,000/month after taxes). Since I am comfortable in school settings (3.9 BSW // 4.0 MSW) so I am considering re-entering school part time to obtain a BSN (with the ultimate goal of NP) or MBA.

    Thoughts? How can I make sure my next steps are better informed?

    1. I can would recommend an MBA from a top 20 business school.

      You have one thing going for you. Your income currently is very low, which means you have a really low income loss for spending 2 years studying.

      The cost for you to go to an MBA would be something like this:
      Lost Income: $72k
      Debt: $100k
      Housing: $30k

      You might end up paying about $200k of which $130k would probably be debt or personal financing.

      The gains would be amazing:
      Entry level: $100-120k
      5-year salary: $130-150k

      You probably will top out at around 140-200k area depending on talent.

      The time to repay your investment if you only kept the entry level salary:
      200k / (100k – 36k) ~= 3 years.

      Using Wolfram Alpha (cause I’m a lazy…):

      You can see on the integer solutions that the lower your salary x is (shown as $1000) the better the return. At around $36k it’s got a beautiful return. The person making 90k on the other hand…. is looking at 30 years time to repay (horrible).

      Basically, the less you make at the transition, the better your return.

      If you are saving $1k a month or about $12k a year, you should also think about investing that money. The returns on those investments can be reinvested, which would result in compounding returns. Learning more about that topic now, could yield dividends in the future. Even if it means investing in lower risk funds.

  22. WorkingStudent

    I’ve been terrified of only ever making a maximum of $50,000 a year for the majority of my post graduate career. So I’ve wanted to really qualify myself as something more than the typical undergrad; I plan to graduate college with a bachelor’s in psychology (focused in cognition and neural sciences) and a bachelor’s in philosophy, along with a minor in cognitive science (basic combination of psychology, philosophy, linguistics, and computer science) and a human factors certificate (research experience). (With a GPA around 3.4 or 3.5) I will have worked full time in finance for a non-profit organization while in school full time, giving myself a total of 6 years total of full time work experience upon graduation. I’ll be 25 by then.

    I feel like this undergrad resume should be a great foothold to get into a top tier school or perhaps land a job at a major company. Would anyone else agree? Should I do more or change anything?

    I only ask because sometimes I feel like my undergrad degrees are in subjects that people don’t care about in the finance or technology sectors. Where I live it seems like the people I know are getting paid $15-$18 an hour right after graduating college. The high positions I can qualify for after working for 10+ years at my non-profit only pay around $60k a year. I want more than that.

  23. The title is not correct. It should be ‘how to make millions if you never screwed up since high school’. But then that person won’t be reading this post, he wouldn’t have time and he wouldn’t need the advice !

    1. Ah, But I did screw up in high school and got suspended multiple times.

      That’s actually a great title for the post and would probably attract even more people. Who doesn’t want to see a screwup fight back, redeem himself and make megabucks?

      Are you currently struggling in school and in life and your comment? The key is to keep an open mind and know that more things are possible this way.

  24. I think this post is totally on point. Starting from high school, you are paving the path. I also think choosing the right career is key. I have been a court reporter for 18 years, and my best year I made 270k, and in my worst year, I made 160k. Even with taking time off to have a baby, last year I still made 140k. I also think it’s true you have to hustle. I have recommended becoming a court reporter o so many people! But none of them have wanted to put in the effort to train and work their butts off. I turned 40 this year and also became a millionaire. Greatest feeling! And I didn’t have to sleep with someone not as good looking as me, LOL! Love your posts. Keep up the good work.

    1. If you made between 140k and 270k a year for 18 years and just became a millionaire, how poorly were you managing your money?

    2. not_a_troll

      lol makes an average 200k per year, but takes 18 years to become a millionaire. wow people are bad with money…

  25. Hi Financial Samurai. I graduated with a BA in business administration with a GPA=2.7. If I acquire a CPA license and a few years of experience from a company like BDO international for example, will that qualify me to have a career at a big 4 auditing firm? Also I will complete my CIA license after completion of the CPA counterpart.

    1. I think those accomplishments will give you a great shot. Yes, a 2.7 GPA is bad, but nobody will care several years down the road, especially if you get a job in the meantime and all those requirements.

  26. multimillionaire

    Contrary to so called most people’s common sense, active options investing and trading can also provide well over 6-figure income with no more risk than buying and holding S&P 500. If your fund is large enough, the annual income could get up to 7 figure level.

    1. Do you have any recommendations for educational blogs for beginner-to-intermediate options trading? Thanks!

  27. I see a lot of naysayers and people not even trying. I am by no means rich or in the 1% but I live comfortably. I am single mother with ZERO support from my child’s father or from my parents who have passed away. I own a cleaning business. I got an associate’s in HIM and I work remotely and received my credentials. Yes, I spent a couple thousand starting my business and finishing my education, but I have been reimbursed all of my startup cost and have a team of employees. I don’t work 40 hours a week. Maybe 35. I don’t do any of the cleanings for my company, I have employees for that. Not saying in an emergency I haven’t cleaned, but for the most part the business runs itself because I strategically put people in place to do so. It was not an easy road, but it was well traveled and worth it.

    Learning and reading and trying things is fundamental to success. Anyone can do anything if they truly put their mind to it. This is not a get rich quick scheme, this is an idea board and an educational blog for people to explore, learn and try innovative ways to make money and retire early. It does take money to make money, but driving Uber for a couple of months until you have $3,000 to either invest or apply towards your startup won’t kill you. Yes, you may work 60+ hours for a short time, but it’s a short term time investment to a long term monetary payoff.

  28. Hey! Great information, 110% agree with the mindset. That is always number one. With anything in life. You can have or do anything you want, IF you want…and do. Hahaha

    I was just wondering what your take on studying online and getting a degree through an online school? seems convenient for someone as busy as I am, but if I were to go back to school, should I just do the real thing? Any insight greatly appreciated!


  29. Retired Appraiser

    I say invent yourself into a six figure income. I spent (wasted) 20 years building a professional appraisal firm only to watch hundreds of banking clients disappear into thin air with the advent of 2009’s HVCC legislation. I fired everyone once the business once the industry was transformed into nonprofit work. I spent the next couple of years searching for the next best thing and came to one conclusion. Adobe Software is an incredible bargain for anyone wishing to start their own business. As an appraiser I spent thousands of dollars each year on software updates, MLS fees, E & O insurance, gas, office space, etc. With Adobe’s cloud system you can lease every software item in their arsenal for $50 per month, meaning you could create publications, videos, web designs, and so much more for $600 per year. That’s roughly 1/50th of my annual expenses in the appraisal business. In the appraisal business you craft and sell your work one piece at a time…much like a custom furniture maker. With Adobe you could easily create one video and sell it 100,000 times.

    I’ve research everything from investing to sewer cleaning and Adobe,s professional tools came out on top. If you’re a guy with very little money to get into business for yourself…I highly recommend checking out this way of working for yourself and breaking into the six figure club.

  30. Hey dude, what jobs are there that earn a load of money, but don’t need a lot of extra education for? I’m trying to aim for the 6 digits because I want a yacht but it’s hard to find a job that doesn’t need so many extra years of education. Thanks

      1. Thanks dude but I’m not very good at writing things or with websites. Im more of a practical person, have you got any more suggestions? Thanks for the initial help as well and replying so quickly

        1. Can’t help you beyond this article that has a list of jobs and sectors and the entrepreneurial route.

          Perhaps one of the easiest ways to enjoy a yacht is to work on a very wealthy person’s mega yacht?

          1. American Fool

            This actually is exactly what a family friend’s son did. Screwed up his first year in college, got one more semester to show his commitment. Screwed that up too. His dad cut him off and told him to get a real job. He caught on as a sailor on a private yacht. Loved the work. Learned fast. Moved up to bigger and bigger yachts. Got promoted. In a decade he made Captain.

            Now he sails the big luxury yachts that celebrities rent. He has some wild stories about the things clients have requested. In any case, last I heard he was considering partial retirement at age 45.

            I, otoh, am merely hoping to be able to leave my current job in the next few years. The drawback of the long term worker is you are vulnerable to changes in company commitments. My pension has been legally slashed multiple times, to the point where it’s now a pittance. All retirement means to me is access to company healthcare, and some level of funding towards it. That plus family medical needs really put a crimp in my retirement plans, moving RA from 55 to 62. My wife’s business may grow enough to push that back down, but it’s a die roll.

  31. Business schools care about grades and the top ones want quality work experience so not even sure why you included it.

    I am surprised you didn’t include sales, they don’t care about GPA in sales. I have had friends that managed to get sales roles at prominent companies and they managed to do so by networking, GPA was not brought up.

    1. Angela T LaMonte

      How does one break into sales?
      I recently helped some friends with their sales event for their product (photos). I was so good at it, and had a great time. But whenever I do a search for “sales” its like wading through a sea of bullshit/scams etc.
      I would like to get into sales, but legitimate.

  32. Hi
    I am skeptical about starting an online business because there are a lot of scammed businesses and more over I spent a lot on some of those online business, I am really looking for a real mentor to follow who can help me understand what to do in details, I wish I can get a help from you Financial Samurai.

  33. Now for a dose of cold water, I got straight A’s in high school, but I was born poor and in a small town. Neither my parents nor I or anyone else had high money. We had enough to get by month to month. After school education was out of the question just based on cost alone. I had few choices but to join Uncle Sam and his merry band of sailors, painting and scrubbing decks around the world. I served my country until I decided to leave the navy-He guess what happened, no jobs for a former sailor with considerable weapons system experience. I spent three years homeless and destitute and hanging onto faded views of honor and discipline. Point being is that you put out all this financial stuff about straight A’s and good grades but you have not lived in the real world. Good grades don’t mean anything when you don’t have any money and don’t believe the hype about the GI BILL. What a joke of a program-Fraud and red tape to make you blush. Get real, I invite you to find a way to save my failing mortgage and invigorate my financial future. I don’t think you the writer of this webpage could, I owe in excess of 200 grand on a bad mortgage and im about to lose it. I can tell you everything about weapons systems, that’s what I was trained to do and I have lived a violent life. If any of this get rich quick stuff actually worked we would all be millionaires. Later

    1. Hi… My bf has a similar story to you. I hope you sold the house before losing it.
      Use the GI bill! For accounting! Or programming. You’ll be solid

    2. Exactly. This article addressed the top 1%. Those salaries are so inflated. I also agree, money makes money and its who you know a lot of times.

    3. The GI Bill works exactly as it is intended. I’ve used both the Montgomery and the Post 9/11 as I served during the transition and participated in both. There is always a 4-6 month delay to get started. It’s because the VA is very slow to get things moving. You can apply as soon as you get accepted in most cases which for me was several months before I got out of the service. The program is not a fraud because of the red tape. Could it be better? Of course! But it’s not a fraud because it doesn’t pay you right away.

      There are jobs out there for veterans and sometimes yes your training in the military does not give many, if any, civilian options. But I encourage you to think outside the box. You do not need to get any job that has to do with your rate. My cousin was aircraft ordnance and now is happy being a bartender in Hawaii. Not my cup of tea but it’s his life and he is happy with it. Look at USAjobs. com as another poster suggested. There are also jobs on that don’t require nuclear experience like security. Keep trying, you may have to work some terrible jobs as I did, but you’ll find your way.

      I agree with you that high school grades are worthless for anything other than getting in to college. By the time I went to college they no longer mattered because my experience in the Navy was the big draw for acceptance.

    4. Karl, your attitude has brought you to your knees. Shleprock status. Samurai spoke of charisma. If you can’t dazzle em with brilliance try baffling em with bullshit. Either way you are screwed until your diehard optimism kicks in. I can I can I can.

    1. Of course it is! I stopped reading at “and then stop because of government persecution and the bitter populace who want to keep you down”

  34. Graduated college back in May of 2016. Been 8 months since I figured out how to get a job. *Don’t apply directly to company websites, it never works, they always ask for too many years of experience* Started looking through recruiting agencies instead, Sam.

    Now, I’m starting a fraud analyst contracting position for 18-20/hr. So, I’m gonna be paid next to nothing, with REALLY crappy health benefits…(The Company I’ll be working for is Bank of America, but I’ll I’ll be working through the contracting agency, Aerotek.)

    Anyway, I am trying to get into IT, because every other profession within banking requires me to take a test and get licensed and renew that license with more tests. I’m bad with tests, and I don’t need that in my life, and IT not only pays more, but I can just get certified with classes. Anyway, how do I go from fraud to IT? I.e. Business Analyst, higher up IT profession? I’m not a computer science major, btw. I was in health sciences. I’ll look into other money making options by following your posts, but how can I start making a decent living by converting to full-time from contract? I’ll learn software skills/IT on the side, but yeh…Any tips?

    Btw, can I get into investment banking without having a license? I already have a degree, just need to self-learn the material online, but…I don’t know if I can be valued as an employee like that…But my main question, if Bank of America doesn’t take me on full-time, can I apply to other full-time 50k+ IT positions while being a contractor or introducing myself to other IT professionals within the company and showing my interest for an entry level IT role?

    1. Pradeep, in IT, there’s no getting around not taking tests towards certifications. Certifications is what gets you PAID in IT. Trust me. I career-changed into IT in my mid-twenties. I took a Cisco boot camp, got 3 CCNA certifications (Routing & Switching, Security, Wireless) and finally got a job as a wireless network engineer starting out at 50k/yr. It was shit and I had to travel 100% installing and configuring WiFi in Hilton hotels for an AT&T project BUT I had to get more experience to land a 9-5 with a regular company…and I did.
      Since then, I’ve gotten more certifications in Wireless networking, (which is my passion), and my salary has gone way up. Now I make 130k/yr and I’m only 31. I’ve worked for big companies like AT&T, Microsoft, and Aruba Networks (HPE).

      Certifications get you noticed and do pay off. If you’re bad at taking exams, do what I did. Take in-person boot camps. You get hands-on experience with the software and hardware. They also usually come with a test voucher and/or an exam engine (with the ACTUAL answers to the test). You can do this.

      1. Pradeep Paramesh

        Hey Smith,

        Thanks for the really insightful reply. I really appreciate it. Now, what if I did not want to be a network engineer dealing with hardware? I definitely do not mind taking certifications, but if I just wanted to become a business analyst or QA Analyst…some IT profession that doesn’t require too much programming or developing because I need the time to learn at the programming languages…Like I’m trying to get a plan going here…BTW, i’ve heard of the CCNA thing over and over again…is that only for network engineers? Because..I dont really want to deal with hands on material or travel too much…I’m tryna be in a position where I earn certifications and learn stuff online and gain experience doing projects online or volunteeringly taking on work to contribute to the IT department to showcase my interest…

        Bottem line, I want to end up in a role with doing something on a computer and not hands-on work or traveling, that’s why I am thinking of a entry level Business analyst or QA analyst…some entry level position that deals with work on a computer.


        (Option 1)
        Fraud Analyst –> Learn SQL or some programming languages on the side while doing some self-projects or contributions to the IT department volunteeringly to showcase my IT interest..then go forward from here…

        (Option 2)
        Fraud Analyst –> Learn SQL, programming languages, …

        I dont want to become a programmer or developer…I want to end up holding a mangerial or executive position so I’ll have to get my MBA for this, but I want to get some job experience before this where I’ll be able to support myself. That’s why i want to go for a role that doesn’t deal with too much programming or development.

        I.e. Business Analyst, QA Analyst, System Admin, some administrator, Analyst, or Specialist role that pays 50k+…BUT since all of this asks for a skillset and experience most of the time beforehand, I’m trying to figure a way on how to get that. Currently, in Bank of America there isn’t a whole lot of openings in roles like this in Delaware.

        The bigger issue is getting the experience TO get these roles…I dont know how to do that without working on the job first…but since companies wont take people without experience, how are we to get the positions? This is why applying to various different companies DIRECTLY through their job portals are a waste of time…but i’m still doing it…idk

        1. Hi Pradeep,

          If you want to be in IT, but not coding or configuring routers, etc., the term you are looking for is “functional”, not “technical”. Big IT companies, and small ones, need both types of people.

          The functional role people need to understand IT, but if they could code at the level of the technical role people, they would be doing that instead. You have the right idea – business analyst or QA. Go to college job fairs, even though you have already graduated and talk to the recruiters. Show the recruiters you have an analytical mind; dress sharp; have good examples of learning something new, recently.

          There are tons of free certifications that you can get that aren’t the “real deal” certifications like CCNA on the technical side or PMP on the functional side. But they are useful. They would be a great talking point for an interview. Maybe you took a Microsoft Azure Cloud Computing course (free), or learned how to use Salesforce (free on their trailhead training site).

          If you don’t have a technical degree it is slightly harder, but again, you are trying for a ‘functional’ role. However, there is no getting around the fact that you have to learn constantly in IT. Show them you are doing that now. Good luck!

          Andrew @

          1. Thank you Andrew! Also what is your take your data analytical roles in corporate? Do you think data analytical roles will be short-lived due to all the hype and the analysis part will be automated soon within the next 10 years or so? Even if it was automated, EXPLAINING the data and EXPLAINING it to your investors, stockholders, clients to basically tell them how they’ll make money from what they wanted me to analyze and interpret will still be the HUMAN aspect, correct. U you can’t automate that, right? Idk if this kind of role will be short-lived compared to a functional IT role. Moreover, I eventually want to hold a managerial role in corporate, but I want to deal with a line of business where there is a lot of money within IT. Projects that deal with SAP? CRM? <— This isn't programming right? I don't mind working for healthcare companies since that's where alot of money is for stuff like ^.

            Tangent : I also like dealing with robotics, bionics, military technology, car companies (Tesla, BMW? Seen that batman-looking motorbike by BMW recently?) Does a B.A. or Q.A. fit into these kinds of sectors/companies or will I have to know something else entirely?

            I'm also being opening to working for the Department of Defense, and the NSA and retire with them for a pension. How hard is this to get into?

            I like film-making as well, but I would do this as a hobby. (Hollywood has ran out of talent/ideas)

  35. Hi Financial Samurai,

    Dude I have been contributing to your page views. haha. On a serious note, I set up my own website detailing my craft in sourcing attempting to build my brand. I did some cold calling to get my website out there. I want am close to $100K and want bridge that gap outside of my 9-5.

    Na da and a couple of good friends made a joke about what I did. I ended up not renewing the godaddy hosting. I guess my area of expertise is just too boring. Seems like you have lots of experience. How do you turn soemthing so mundane into something amazing?


  36. Hello, This is such a great blog gathered a lot of inspiration from it. I am 19 making $33K
    As an IT. I work a 9-5 schedule 40+ hours a week but it’s not enough. I have big dreams that require $100K to fulfill. I am extremely ambitious, driven and motivated. However I keep looking but cannot find anything that would give me that much. I now have certificates and experience and keep applying to different jobs but no luck still. Any advice?

  37. Great post Sam, I’m in high school and I neglected it/didn’t care much (Still have a 4.3/5 GPA) Because I’m working on my music project (great ROI if done well)

    Now I’ll study more just in case, that way I can apply also Management/systems for organization even more (replicable and important skill)

    Thanks for correcting a possible big mistake

  38. Greetings Financial Samurai,

    I am writing you this comment in great desperation as I need your advice in something. I graduated from university with a GPA=2.6. My objective was to get recruited at one of the big four auditing firms (Delloitte, PWC, KPMG, etc). Obviously, my GPA is not sufficient to get enrolled. However, I am planning to work hard in studying for my CIA program (certified internal auditor). If i complete it and acquire a high score in the CIA examination will I have a chance at Delloitte perhaps? or Am i scewed? i will also embark on the CISA program as soon as i complete the CIA. PLEASE PLEASE TELL ME asap. Thank you for your kind attention….

    1. Hi Andrew,

      What were the reasons for a 2.6 GPA? I will be frank with you and say that many of those companies have minimum GPA cutoffs e.g. 3.0 or 3.5 out of 4.0 b/c they have so many applicants. They need filters. I didn’t get an offer from Deloitte, PWC, etc back in my day fyi, and I had a 3.73 GPA.

      A CIA can’t help, but I’ve actually never heard that accreditation come up before. Why not go back to grad school and kill it? Or do so part-time like I did w/ my MBA at Berkeley while gaining work experience? There’s always upside!

      You’ve got to do something different than everybody else given your GPA. You should consider starting a website to improve your brand. Tell your story b/c your numbers may bely your true self.


  39. Hello Samurai,
    I have a few questions for you. I am 29, have a BBA, got good grades in college, work in sales and am still broke! My conversion rates are good, but most of my jobs have been 1099 contracts with commission caps.
    I am considering returning to school for a pharmaceutical sales certificate. I am desperate to improve my life and am willing to make the commitment.
    Do you think this is a good idea? I heard it is a difficult industry to break into.
    Also, I started writing an ebook, do you have any articles for publishing and marketing?

    Thanks :)

    1. Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for visiting. I recommend tracking your finances for two weeks and writing down everything you’ve spent money on. Then purge the unnecessary things and all that money into another savings account you can’t touch, or auto invest it in a digital wealth advisor like Wealthfront. The key is to cut fat and automate your savings and contributions. Do this for 10 years and you WILL have more money than you could ever realistically imagine.

      Try your best to max out your 401k as well, if you have one. Make saving money each paycheck HURT!

      Not sure about your certificate. If you can get one part-time while working, it’s probably great. If you have to remove 1-2 years of work to take on debt while you are broke, then not a good idea.

      I would absolutely start your own website and build your brand online first if you plan to write and sell an e-book. Leveraging the internet is always a good idea!



  40. I think I understand how you’ve come to make $100,000 plus a year. From reading this I see that you’ve worked in the investment banking industry, driving for uber, and some other things. My thoughts on your financial success are this…

    You found a topic that is of interest to a huge target audience (who doesn’t want to make 100k plus a year?) You spent some money so your website comes up while searching google (therefore generating more traffic to your page) and you’ve written this guide in a way that includes everyone (that way nobody feels like they aren’t able to achieve this same success) Throughout the article you’ve posted links to multiple products/companies which you earn revenue from each time someone clicks them. Along with that there are advertisements throughout that you’re gaining revenue on etc. So essentially, anyone reading this and clicking links is generating revenue for you. Touché

    1. Fortune comes to those who take action. You are either a producer or a consumer. Nothing good comes to those who do nothing!

      You too, can start your own site and make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year relatively passively if you want. Have you seen the post: How Much Can You Make Blogging?

      Leverage the internet to build your brand. Companies have grown HUGE b/c of the internet (FB, LinkedIn, Google, etc). Why do you too?

      Related: If You Produce Nothing How Do You Expect To Make Any Money?

  41. What is your oppinion, and what advice would you give someone who dropped out of High School because they dont want to “go to college to get a career job untill retirement… I think school (atleast the schools I attended) trains students to believe that is the only means of achieving financial stability”… “I asked a teacher once ‘how come we dont learn how to make money instead of learning how to physically labor for money you know “work smarter not harder”… Lol that was a mistake on my part!

  42. Makes no sense, how are you going to get into a top business school with really bad grades? (GPA in the 2s)

    Work experience? Well guess what, you need GOOD GRADES for quality work experience.

    1. May I ask who you got a GPA in the 2s? I assume that is a C/C- average. Why not give yourself as much optionality as possible with good grades?

      If you effed up your GPA, then just do well on your GMAT scores, write a good essay, do something creative (like start a site) and wow them with your determination.

  43. Great article! So I was wondering if I could get your advice? I’ll be graduating college in about 3 years and I should have around $200k saved in mutual funds, I’ve considered getting my degree in accounting (although I want to become a physician once I have a solid amount of money saved) and I was planning on trying to go work for my family’s CPA firm. What’s a reasonable amount I can save at most so I can attain a million in mutual fund savings? Considering that it’ll gain roughly 10% a year

  44. Rangga budiman

    Hey financial smaurai I have a question, I just turn 18 and I’m gonna be a senior this year in high school, my grades was mediocre and my job sucks, I am a host of a restaurant making 10$/hour and only working 15-20 hour per week. I always wanted to be big in life and my passion is animals. I want to work in the field of zoology like maybe marine biology wil I be able to make 100k in that work field

  45. Love the blog man, great advice here. I’m starting my own niche website, to help folks as well (with sdr functions in tech companies). Thanks for all the good words, shoot me an email if you’d like to connect!


  46. I am starting a new job soon (30/m/renter/$12,000 IRA) but importantly, no debt. $56000/year with a 5% 401k Match. I am having trouble determining whether I want to go all in on the 401k and forgo the ROTH IRA. Or go partial in on the 401k ($10,000/year) + max ROTH IRA. After all, the after income-tax dollars are going to be in the second lowest braced (15%).

    The main problem I have with the 401k is that the investment options suck. All the mutual funds (including target date funds) have a high front load fee (4.25%-5.25%) and high expense ratio (0.9%-to-2.0%). With the ROTH I get the benefits of low-cost (0.05%-0.30%), no-load index funds. In some respects there is little difference between the after-tax dollars in a ROTH with no-load funds and pre-tax dollars in a fund that immediately siphon 4.25% out. Sure, I’m taking a upfront hit on the taxes with the ROTH. However, I am also going to be taking an upfront hit from the front load fees and a continual hit with the higher expense ratio in the 401k

    Any advice you could give me would be fantastic

      1. After I do full Roth and at get at least the match where should I save? Having no debt and feeling behind makes it silly not to save as much as possible. Should I go for a regular after tax brokerage or for the 401k despite those high fees?

        FWIW I live in Texas with no state income tax

        1. Gotta love the no state income tax!

          I would look into Wealthfront and automatically contribute a set amount every month from your paycheck after tax. The first 15K under management is free and it’s just 0.25% after that. Sign up and play around with the risk tolerance meter to see what different type of portfolios they come up with. They do tax loss harvesting and automatically rebalance for you based on your risk tolerance. You don’t have to fund the account to see the different portfolios.

          This type of service used to cost 1-2% of assets under management. Now it costs almost nothing.

  47. Hi,

    I just graduated college at at the age of 23 and now working in the tech industry (hardware) in south bay area with a salary of 70k + 25% salary bonus every year and 80k in stock vested 5 years given every 2 years. However, promotions and hierarchy in the company seems to be very flat. Plus, it seems that the role i’m holding is extremely specialized. No other company will pay this much for someone with 0 experience in the industry. Now, how do i overcome this “putting all eggs in a basket” thing, and start rolling with decent raises without risking any setback? At the age of 23, i’m sometimes sleepless at night to think of a way to optimize my future while not giving up any advantages that i’ve tried so hard to get. I absolutely love my job, but any suggestion to have a backup plan in case the worst thing happens ? Was thinking about learning extra software or data science stuff, but you just mentioned that I would likely need desire, a focused desire if anything.

  48. I’m 29. I started a career in sales right out of High School and found my glass ceiling. I went back to school at 26, graduated with a degree in finance at 28 in may 2015, I just got my first offer as a securities specialist with a top 5 bank, (it’s an operations position in global market settlements) the pay is less than my draw was when I was selling, and I might as well live in my car because I’m going to spend about 2 and a half hours in the car everyday. I am trying to determine if I am selling myself short, or if this is a good place to get started. I ultimately want to work mutual funds. I’m trying to decide if I should keep looking for another position or hold out for more.

  49. I have been a cop for 5 years and have two kids, a wife and mortgage. I like what I do but lately I have been thinking of a career switch to make more money. I majored in criminal justice in collage. I don’t know if I could afford to go back to school with a family to support, however I want to be able to provide more for my family. What would you suggest?

  50. A wise man once told me…, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.!” Networking is important, but how do you know, you are networking with appropriate people that want to see you make the same six ball park figures that they do, you then become competition, and unless they are frequently throwing you under the bus. I don’t really see networking as the great ideal, education is important but whose to say you might not be educated in a particular area, to keep what you have worked so hard for, I see this article as a hit and miss, and unless you can stay “Motivated” which can be extremely difficult in some cases, What’s the real obstacle. I know this is possible, but I don’t think anywhere as much information that is needed. How ever if anyone has any idea of any jobs that a twenty-two year old can become employed in a short space of time and make $100,000-$250,000.00 please allow me to know.

  51. Im 39 yrs old, graduated from a average college in business management. I currently work for the state in the IT help desk making around 35k a year in Sacramento, Im not happy with this salary, but my job is stable and Ihave retirement benefits. But, I want to make more money now, I want to be making 250k plus, I dont know if I should quit this job and go to the private sector and what field I should go into or stay what in the same field but switch to private IT job. I feel at this age, If I went back to business school to get an MBA might be a waste of time and money. Can you advise me?

  52. Would you say that asset management is a lucrative field if one is working at a major bank like JP Morgan?

  53. Soo how do you feel about military service after highschool if you feel like you can’t afford school? are you pro loans? How do you feel about industrial design? how do you feel about mis? how do you feel about undergrad in biochem?

  54. Hi Sam, I was wondering if any Canadian B-Schools place well in i-banking in the states?
    I have heard that Western Ivey and Queen’s Smith School have reps. come for summer jobs. But, do you have any views?
    I”m graduating high school soon and want to make a good decision on where I apply.
    Or should I give some schools in the States a try (I here their financial aid is good as well)?
    Thanks! :)

  55. I’m so happy to read your post! Your article is very informative and i learn so much from there :) I’ve been searching for information like this for sometime to grow my personal wealth.
    Due to the education background, i’m aware that it is essential to building a security income for the future. Therefore i started working part time since young and save money for the rainy days. Of course i also like to go for travelling and enjoy good food with my family once in awhile. Currently i’m planning to maximize my existing reserve to passive income or higher returns. It will be awesome if you could provide me with some good advise :)

    Currently, i have 100k saved in fixed deposit & cash, 100k allocated in investment element 30% in shares, 30% unit trust, 40% bonds. so far mostly returns come from unit trust over few years , uncertainty return in shares and around 6% return for bonds. Also have $100k in investment plans which needs 15-20years to see good returns.

    I am age 34 , working as an accountant with annual income 85k per annum, due to monthly commitment on properties & car, left 1k for saving each month. May i know is there a better way to maximize my current reserves to 200k per annum as per your article? i’m happy to have at least 10k passive income every month without working soon as i’m planning to have kids and looking forward to enjoy the lovely time seeing them grow up without a job constraint

  56. Anyone who has a degree in life can tell you that to earn more you have to spend more. You are chasing your tail no matter how much you make. After all you are making more so you can spend more aren’t you? Unless you are a true capitalist who makes absurd amounts of money at the expense of their workers.

  57. Hi Sam,

    I just found your blog and I want to thank you for providing such valuable information. My only regret is that I found your blog a little to late.

    I’m 23 y/o and have been going to community college on and off since h/s. Didn’t really care about grades the first 2 years so that really screwed up my gpa in the beginning. Long story short, I’m sitting at a 3.0 gpa currently and want to change my situation. I’m going to take school and grades more seriously. I have to stay one more year at community college to complete the required transfer classes to be able to attend a university. I can probably raise my gpa to a 3.1 before i transfer, but I don’t think i can transfer to a good business school with that gpa. So I plan to transfer to a Cal State and try to keep a 4.0 for 2 years until I graduate so my average gpa from community college and University would be about 3.5-3.6. Then, my next step would be to apply to a top 15 business school

    So my questions are:
    1. Should I work a year or two before I go and get my mba. I’ll be around 27-28 y/o.

    2. Could I make it in banking with my poor grades from the beginning.

    3. Is there time for hobbies when your an investment banker? I have many hobbies I don’t want to give up and for this reason I’m debating if I should go the accounting route instead.

    4. Can an accountant with a CPA and MBA make $200,000 a year?

    Thank you for your time.

    1. Hi Andre,

      Make sure you subscribe to keep in touch.

      1) Yes, getting at least a year of experience will make the MBA much more relevant. Check out: Is An MBA A Big Waste OF Time?
      2) It is hard. All banks are sticklers for a decent GPA. But, good job going to CC then transferring. Why not transfer to a UC School? Aim higher. It is the common app.
      3) Of course. It’s not jail!
      4) Maybe, over time.

      I’d get a 4.0 in CC, and transfer to the best UC school possible: Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD and go from there. Build connections along the way. Intern for free if you must. And always stay humble. Keep on hustling!

      Related: Spoiled Or Clueless? Work Minimum Wage As An Adult

      Good luck!

      1. Thanks for your response, Sam.

        The reason I’m not going to transfer to a UC is because I screwed up my gpa when I first started at CC and now have a 3.0. By the time I’ll be able to transfer next year, I can only raise it to a 3.1 if I get Straight A’s. I don’t think any UC’s will accept me with a 3.1 gpa. Will I still have a chance if I graduate undergrad from a CSU?

        I’m definitely going to start interning, even it’s for free. I’m also going to start driving for Uber on the side.

        I’m going to follow your lead to financial freedom. You’ve set a great example for all of us.

        Always stay humble and keep on hustling. Love it.

        I’ll keep in touch.

        Thanks again, Sam!

  58. “Strategic Consulting: Bain, BCG, McKinsey, Monitor, Arthur D. Little, Booz Allen Hamilton”

    Just a quick note on the consulting firms you listed. Although the Big 3 are obvious to include in the list, I would certainly remove Booz Allen Hamilton, and even Arthur D. Little. Booz Allen is notorious for under-paying, especially when compared to much better firms. Booz Allen is also primarily a Federal contractor with very limited commercial work (granted their non-compete with Booz & Co. [now Strategy&] is over) – commercial strategy/ management consulting out-pays Federal counterparts.

    Although Arthur D. Little is a fine boutique firm, there are much better options to include in your list (e.g., LEK, Oliver Wyman, A.T. Kearney).

    Additionally, your mis-represent the Big 4 by only calling them out in your IT Consulting list. Deloitte S&O and PwC/ Strategy& should be included in your Strategy Consulting list at the very least.

    This year, post-MBA hires into Strategy& received offers of $145k/year + signing bonus + performance bonus.

    1. I’m happy to include the other boutique firms. Booz, Arthur, etc all pay $100,000+ a year after several years, so I’m not quite sure of your point.

      Thanks for the latest on post-MBA hires for Strategy!

      1. Thanks for the reply.

        My point was that your list is a representative sample, and to me, a sample of higher-rated firms would be a better fit. Arthur is a solid boutique, don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it remaining in the list. I am only struggling with Booz Allen. if you want to keep them, I would move them to your IT Consulting list, not Strategy.

        Re: Booz Allen – the nature of Federal consulting is shifting away from true strategy management consulting and more operational consulting and IT consulting. So to categorize Booz Allen in your Strategy list isn’t accurate, not when you have better Strategy firms to include, see above list, also consider Accenture Strategy (the strategy shop of Accenture, similar to Deloitte S&O).

        in terms of pay, sure, eventually you’ll make $100k at Booz Allen, but you’ll reach that number much sooner at other firms. Booz Allen pays $50-60k to Consultants fresh out of undergrad. Year over year raises are insignificant (they cap at 3%, unless your Principal/Senior Associate goes to bat for you on market rate adjustment). Promotion raises are also nowhere near market rate. Additionally, levels below Senior Associate do not receive a performance bonus. You will likely not reach $100k at Booz Allen until 2nd Associate (see below levels).

        Levels at Booz Allen are… Consultant -> Sr. Consultant -> Associate -> Lead Associate -> Senior Associate -> Principal.

        Lets compare apples to apples.

        1st year out of undergrad:
        Booz Allen – Salary: $50-60K, No Bonus
        PwC Management Consulting – Salaray: $65-70K, Bonus: $10K (up to 15% Base), in some cases you’ll also receive a signing bonus.

        My point here is that you have other options that will get you to that $100k mark quicker than at Booz Allen. Yes, you can make $100k in your 30s there, but why not set your goals sooner at higher paying firms in the same field?

  59. Hello,

    I am a recent graduate from college of business with an MIS degree. I am very fortunate to say that my starting salary is 70k. I truly believe that I have the capability to have a six figure salary in my 20’s (currently 22). I loved this article and the comment section. Aside of what the article has mentioned any tips/advice from someone who can help me add an additional 50k to what I will be making? I’m sure that I will have a side hustle or start a small business while working my full-time job but I’m perfectly fine with that.

    Thank you,

  60. Like many other stories here, I’ve “made it” through hard work and don’t have a college education. Me – K1 will be $200K for 2015 at 31 years old.

    My advice:

    – Make sure you’re in an industry with growth and good annual revenue or ensure you’re a wanted specialized niche within one’s that not. The bucket is only so big, make sure yours can hold lots of water.

    – Get in on an entry level position at a company who will let you see the inner workings. Smaller companies usually allow for this and allow you to wear many hats if you jump in when your other duties are done.

    – Don’t get stuck in a rut. Meaning, if a job or opportunity has no more learning potential then get out and get a different orange to squeeze. Until your late 20’s or early 30’s, consider education, experience and opportunities the #1 form of payment. An environment that allows questioning the workings of an industry and one’s company with answers from higher up is a gold mine.

    – Make a buck of your own outside of a company that’s not yours. Even if it’s small earnings. A great path to success is owning your own gig so start even a tiny business to experience these valuable lessons that come with the territory. Which leads to…

    – Don’t be afraid to fail. Take calculated chances when given the opportunity.

    – Have multiple income streams. Diversify your income for turbulent times.

    – If you make $30K or $200K, don’t spend like a retard. Splurge on a budget. I see this as a major problem in today’s earners living large today and would lose the house their family lives in if something happened to their current income stream.

    – The most important. TIME. Value your time and make sure your plate is clear to focus on growth of your most valuable skills. Time also gives you time for reflection, relaxation and a balanced life. Hire people to do redundant stuff. I’m currently dating but not married so I have someone come and clean the house, mow the lawn and do the laundry. This stuff would take me 3-4 hours a week. That’s 1.25 weeks in a year. At my earnings level, I’m “worth” $80-$100/hr with expected 50 hours working. For $10/hr someone else can do these tasks while I relax or make money. Same things in the work place. Reports, data collection, number crunching, answering non money making calls or emails etc…..

    Learn s*** everyday from those who have made it and those who have failed. Soak it up, read stuff online, never go into business with a partner without an operating agreement and separate yourself from losers in your personal and professional life.

    Elementary points outside of actually making money that will get you there or hold you back…

    Just my 2 cents.

    1. Hey Dustin,

      Beside reading this post which is great for information. i really loved your comment. I feel you. I am also 31yo currently making around 100k living in an Eastern European country and trying to make more by finding new oportunities. Somehow i connected with your comment, i feel atracted to it. If you would like to continue comunicating in private just let me know. Cheers


  61. Love this article! Another thing I wanted to add to the part about not being a donkey was debt. For instance, I am a sophomore at a Community college(getting my pre-reqs there for half the price of a state university), and because of my scholarship package, I am literally not paying a cent and this semester I got to pocket $2,000 of excess scholarship money, which I plan on saving for upcoming semesters or paying off a small loan I took out a while ago. Long story short, at this rate I forecast graduating debt-free(I am planning on attending undergrad b-school at UF or FSU since I am from Florida and can save a ton.) That won’t be the story of someone who squeaked past high school with a 2.7, and must graduate with a $30K+ student loan debt. Even if they land a good paying job, that debt will bite you in the butt.

  62. cracking that six figure salary is great but what’s even better is living within your means. Being in the software sales industry, it’s not uncommon to clear 200-250k on a decent year, upwards of 500-700k on a stellar year. The lifestyle begins to change and you start spending more. Fortunately I come from a very frugal family so saving has never been an issue however I’ve seen former co-workers splurge and somehow live check to check. It’s quite sad honestly and when they’re not producing it can get worse.

    Just food for’s all relative.

    1. That is a good point. Unfortunately some people don’t “know how to be rich”. A financially literate person(Warren Buffet, Carl Icahn, Bill Gates, etc.) can turn $1 million into $1 billion by living within their means and only spending substantial amounts on productive assets, whereas others will blow it on anything they see and end up more in debt than they started(think MC Hammer.)

  63. Im a senior in highschool, and cannot pick between medicine or business. Im leaning more towards medicine bc im not sure that business will guarantee wealth however medicine takes longer. I wanna be able to make 200k a year by age 27

  64. Stephen Back

    Junior in high school, A’s and B’s kinda student. Just wondering if I could get advise for my career path. Please contact my by email. Thanks.

  65. I’m a senior in college. My major is Risk Management and insurance. I plan on getting an MBA in strategic mgmt/Finance from a top 20 business school OR an MSHA from a top 5 MSHA school like Michigan(1) or UAB(2). I hope to start making a least 120K right out of grad school. I understand you can be a hospital administrator or even CEO with an MSHA. Which career looks more promising when you factor in the cost of grad school?

  66. I love your post. I have been following you over the years. I want to shed some light to others who are in pursuit of the “Six Figure Salary”. Upon graduation, I set a goal to make six figures by 30. I started off making only $33k a year. However, I out worked everyone in my office and established a reputation as a hard work and smart worker. I stayed at the firm (insurance) for 4 years and somehow networked and found an opportunity in management consulting. I stayed there for 10 months and made approximately $95k. Next, i took the experience came back to the insurance industry and now make $125k at the age of 27…. 3 years earlier!. My best advice for everyone is to work hard, follow the opportunities, strive for constant improvement, and be open to change. PS. I went to a “B” school and was a “B” student. Unfortunately, I was an underdog through out my career because of my school, but I balanced it by tremendous work ethic and self taught myself in business. Work hard, keep reading, and continue to improve. You will make six figures!


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  68. Alexandra Mejia

    But I have a question… Do you really think that those who don’t attend the top schools won’t be as successful? (Coming from someone who doesn’t go to Colombia or UCD) What are your thoughts? Should they transfer from a cal state to a UC? Or should they complete their bachelors in a cal state and then proceed to get their MBA in a higher ranked university?
    P.S. This is a question for me, obviously. Freshly out of high school.

    1. A prestigious school will help get your foot in the door. But after several years, it all depends on your performance and who you know.

      If you can transfer to a prestigious school for junior and senior year while saving money the first two years, I say go for it!

  69. I really liked this article. I found it full of good information. I would like some advice from FS as I definitely fit into one of these categories. I have a B.S. from a good university and I have a good job in the medical field making $45k right now with the posibility of 1-5% raises every year. I know I am capable of doing and earning more. I made A’s, B’s, and C’s as a college student without really trying. I’ve considered getting a masters in buisness, but I don’t have a clear vision of what I would do with that. I can’t afford to waste time or money on a second degree if it isn’t going to earn me substantially more money. I have a wife and daughter and work full time. I am constantly looking for ways to make more money. Do you have any advice for me? Thank you.

  70. Adam Gillman

    I love the article! I’m curious, I’m looking to go into accounting I’m doing fairly well in school. You say it may take some time going into one of the big four, but I want to make sure it is still a very real possibility to break 100k within my first couple years out of college. Any ideas?

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  74. Hi i posted on here before but I have a quick question! My parents both work at Jp Morgan as I did before and make well well over 100k each but they didn’t go to the best colleges and one didn’t even go to college. So I believe it’s more ambition in yourself then what college or prestigious college you attend. Would you agree with my statement because I choose a cheaper instate school because I have belief in myself to do good not the school. Does this make sense or am I just setting myself up for failure?

    1. This is totally true as many people are non traditional learners and the academic system is just not appealing to them and learn faster by doing. I come from an entire family of folks like this..barely scratching through state college but always excelled in paying our way through them by opening small businesses and earning lots of money over the summer. Net is, I make more than the average Harvard grad with a state college degree. Look at big corps that offer leadership development programs, work hard, be willing to relocate ad take risks, have a great attitude even when you get a hellish assignment as it’s an opportunity to learn – always treat people well and if you don’t, learn from it and get better. All in all you’ll keep rising or decide you want to do something else and will have learned a ton along the way.

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  76. Hi Sensei,
    I have two teens and I cleared $17k (not a typo Seventeen Thousand) last year. How? I joined the Army after high school. Went to war ’91. Got out of the Army. Went to college (took wrong major). Dropped out of college after my daughter was born. Went to work in sales in telecom. They burnt me out in 2 years. Most I ever made was $63k. The reason I tell you this is there is much, much more diversity in the world than just about the money. I don’t despise anyone making a lot of money, anything to distance yourself from the grasp of hunger poverty is good !

    Remember though, In order for some to win, someone’s gotta lose but it takes both to play the GAME. Your article is inspirational.

    1. Someone does not have to lose for someone to win. That is called gambling. An example; let’s say you go to a bank to borrow money to start a bakery. You bake a lot of cakes for a lot of weddings. Your customer wins because you baked an awesome cake for there wedding, you win because you got there money, and the bank wins because they got there money back with interest. Also, the bakery bought flower for the cake so there supplier wins, the supplier bought it from the distribution center who wins, the distribution center bought from the manufacturer who wins, the manufacturer bought from the farmer who wins. Everyone wins. Even the government who collected taxes on every step above won.

      1. sparkyflinstone

        but, the people who couldn’t pay their mortgage and other loan interest lost, which is why the bank was able to give you the money to begin with. That’s how they make a profit.

        1. This point is nonsensical. The bank is able to loan money because their depositors loan them money at a lower rate than they charge the baker. The difference between the two rates is their profit. I. This case depositors win with a safe place to store money, the bank people have jobs, and small businesses have loans.

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  79. Your concept is interesting, but wrong. Having a 200k salary won’t bring contentment. I wonder if Bill Gates is truly happy…? We can’t find true joy apart from Jesus Christ, and that’s whar bothers me most about this post. Other than that, fair information. Thanks.

    1. “We can’t find true joy apart from Jesus Christ, and that’s whar bothers me most about this post.”

      I have true joy and I don’t get it from Jesus Christ – he’s not my god nor is he even a god.

  80. I am a highschool student with some questions. First of all I wanted to know the importance of volunteer work for getting into a high end school (I currently have straight A’s as well.) Second are AP classes beneficial even if a college I would like to go to doesn’t accept them. And lastly I am interested in being a Petroleum Engineer so any info you have on that field of work would be cool. Great article by the way!

    1. Collin,
      Petroleum Engineer is a great path. I have friends in this sector, one I know he graduated with a 4 year degree in Petroleum Engineering and makes 150k-180k annual. The oil companies seem to hire directly from good schools with this degree. Smart way to go.

  81. Hello
    I like your blog , it’s very helpful. Can you suggest me a major that will guarantee me a high salary ( without having to spend too many years at collage) I am considering Nuclear Physics , but it requires 50-60 hours per week. I want to enjoy my money before my 30’s. I’m 17. It doesn’t matter how difficult the school will be , I have most of the grades equivalent to A and one or two equivalent to B+ , I live in Albania. Thanks and keep going with your good work!

      1. Thank you so much! Can you suggest me a particular collage too? I was considering MIT for the Nuclear Physics. Also, does the software engineer job requires too much hours to be spent?

        1. Computer Science in school is a really nice major to have.

          The work itself varies depending on who you work for and what you are doing. I’ve seen some firms require about 60+ hours of work. Often in early stage start-ups. Others you can get by with under 40 hours of work.

          The salary is pretty good as well, though you’ll generally break 6-figures with a few years of work experience unless you work for one of the more famous companies.

          One thing to note is that you will need to consider cost of living as well as salary. California, you often get a six figure salary, but will pay often 2-3 times more for rent. So, 100k in Cali doesn’t go as far as Texas or for example Chicago.

          The nice thing about computer science is you don’t have to be a top student to get a good job. The market tends to be very healthy and a computer science degree gives you a nice edge over most applicants for IT positions (experience of course trumps this, but entry-level IT positions really like math, engineering, computer science and statistics students).

        2. Sure, go for MIT, Cal Tech, Harvey Mudd, Cooper Union, Berkeley, and Carnegie Mellon to name a few.

          If you are asking about working too many hours at your age, you are asking the wrong questions though. Finally, definitely run a spell check during your applications e.g. collage should be college. The first time you wrote it, I assumed it was a typo. But the second time, maybe not? Communication skills is HUGE to getting ahead.

          1. You got me there haha (thanks) . I’m not a native english speaker , that’s why. Anyway , thanks for the advice though. It’s helpful.

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  83. Hi

    I was wondering how long it would take me a 22 year old earning 90 grand a year, to retire early. I am happy with earning a 200,000 dollar salary in my later years. Do you think I can do it by 40-45?

    1. well it depends on how you want to live. were around the same age, and my plan is to purchase income producing assets and invest in companies that positively cash flow year after year. Over time, youll start earning 5-10-20k a month passively, and then you dont need to work at 40-45. but its a lot of discipline and saving. live below your means for 5-7 years and stack up your cash. the tax shelters in asset classes are incredible.

      1. Hi, I’m Austin and just got enrolled in Marquettes business school about in the top 60 or 70 in the nation. I got mostly A’s in school and both my parents are senior project managers at jp Morgan. I am a driven student and want to be as successful as them. Does this school and their presence help me complete my goal of making 100k a year out of school?

        1. Most important are connections, work ethic, and commitment. I’d leverage your parents to make introductions.

          First year analysts on Wall St. now have a $85,000 base for 2015, and can make about $125-$140,000 after one full-year. Base goes up to $95,000. Figure out a way to join one of the bigger firms like JPM!

  84. Hello sir,

    The article was fantastic and very eye-opening!

    I am a 15 year old sophomore attending a highly competitive high school in Silicon Valley and have gotten poor grades in the past, with a 3.8 GPA average currently. I am working really hard and my grades have increased.

    But is it too late for me to get a six figure salary?

    Some more information: I’m really interested in business, finance and law and have started a successful organization. I also am good at computer science and have won a lot of national and international science fairs. I’m also a national high school debate qualifier. I’ve taken a certified IQ test and have received a 140. I got close to a 2400 on the SAT. I had a very bad injury in ninth grade and I missed a lot of school (I got a C in a class because of that!) I am really worried about my future.

    Also, for the fastest 100k salary route, would you recommend studying in business (like an economics or finance major) or a computer science major or a mix of both? And what’s better, a Law degree or a MBA?

    Thanks a lot for your time.

    1. This is possibly the dumbest comment I have ever read. You have a 140 IQ, yet you clesrly cannot think for yourself.

  85. You didn’t mention engineering as a industry. Engineers have some of the best starting salaries out of college and many of my business partners have MBAs. I graduated with a masters in structural engineering and then 6 years later got qualified as a diver with an ADCI commercial dive card. Then I was making 100,000+ annually. I now have my own firm and make 200,000+ at 32 years old.
    Business school debt always scared me
    Conversely, Engineers usually don’t break the 150,000 mark unless they open their own firm

    The world needs more entrepreneurs

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  87. or just become a 4th class power engineer that takes about a year then apply for a plant operator position in oil sands. Im 20 and make close to 200k a year lol. you Don’t need a crazy education, but listen to all your teachers!! ha ha!!

    1. Samlikesjeeps

      I’m active duty right now, but would like to do something like you are doing when I get out if it pays that much lol. If you would be kind enough to hook me up with tips and be sort of a mentor, reply and we can exchange contact info. Much appreciated.

      1. Get an electrical engineering degree and be willing to work in crappy locales. Petroleum engineering would probably work, too. Engineering pays well but if you’re willing to work on site you can rake it in.

  88. Hi Sam i need some advice too!

    I’m 24 years old hard working electrician living in Calgary Alberta Canada, Probably one of the best places to be a electrician really. I’m a 4th year apprentice, I start my last year of school in jan, by march/april i will be a ticketed journeyman. This year i will make 70,000 (thats before taxes) and im extremely unsatisfied with it. Once im a Jman working for my current company i will make aprox 85 without OverTime. when I do the math its not that much more, now i have the potential too make more but there are some complications too this.

    1. I can go up north (make 120 guaranteed with a pension through the union) but the hours and the lifestyle (2 weeks in 1 week out) might be too brutal for me (fort Mac if you have heard of it really is not for everyone), i thought i would give it a try after school and see if it works for me but ive heard of many people having problems with their relationships/health with working so much. and i have to come back to town eventually and yes maybe ill have a nicer number in the bank but thats about it right back too 85,000 and still working hard.

    2.My neighbor is a master electrician and has brought me upon many side jobs with him where i have really learned alot about the electrical trade. Much more then at my day job. He really likes me and i know he wants too start his own business and he wants me to work for him full time one day, however i dont know what he plans too do with me, will i be partner or just a worker? i know he wont screw me but ive heard that partners are a waste of time, build yourself not someone else. however starting a company i know is a much bigger task then it seems and he has the experience and knowledge that i dont have yet, i know he is willing to teach me but this is a big commitment and in the end all my hard work could go into his pocket. however that experience is what could differ me from all the rest everyone i know does the standard work for a bigger company learn nothing and go up north. Even from the little bit he has taught me i have used to do my own side jobs and make 60 to 70 a hour, and i know he can teach me so much more.

    3. Get a job as a foreman for one of the bigger companies. These guys make serious cash and never have to lift a tool, and have all the job security in the world, the problem is one of the higher ups has to like you and you have too work your ass off for him for years too make your way up.

    4. Go back too school, probably the worst choice of all but i cant see myself being a laborer for ever, i hate working outside in the cold and after doing construction for 6 years now my body already feels achy compared too when i was younger. Ive had many injuries from hard physical labor and it scares me that one day i might not be able to do my job, and support my future family. as well i am bored with being a electrician so many of my friends are in school drinking coffees learning about interesting things and being around girls while I’m out in the cold working my ass off. Now i know i am making school sound glamorous and I’m sure its a lot of hard work, but i actually have thoroughly enjoyed Electrical school and am sad this is my last year. after this its work everyday and that thought depresses me, but making the wrong decision and going back to school for another mediocre job and go into debt when i can make all this money now depending on the route I take. I don’t know what i should do.
    any suggestions?

  89. Hey, Sam! Great article/read. Also, i’m not sure if you’re the right guy to ask (bother? lol) but I just turned 20 and I basically got really mediocre grades at my mediocre community college and i’ll be getting my diploma next year. Not that getting into policing will be too much difficulty, but being a high ranking officer, such as a chief, that pays very well might be a bit of a stretch later down the line. I could go back and EASLY get A’s but the idea of going back to school and doing the same thing… ehhh…. I might consider doing it later, perhaps when i’m 30ish and gotten some experience as being an officer. What would you recommend? I’m open to anything. Thanks mate.

  90. Do you have any advice for someone that has a decent medium level income blue colar job that recently invested in a MBA? I would love to work in finance but everything entry level is offering way below what I already make. How do I get my foot in the door?

  91. Im 38 years old, and I had poor grades. School was tough I really had to work for it but I did ended up graduating from a local private college with bachelors in business with a 2.7 gpa.

    The income im making now is around $32k a year and barely enough to live by myself and my student loans are comming due soon.

    I want to be making at least $350k year to be happy. So how can, I Mr. Financial Samurai be able to reach that income level ?

    I not sure with my low gpa I will be able to get into a top tier business school.

    1. How did you arrive at $350K a year to be happy? I’d love to get your analysis. A good portion of financial planning and building wealth is planning, so I’d like to learn how you think.

      1. I arrived at the income of $350k after paying taxes that would be roughly $20k a month net income. I would need that to live a lifestyle that I’m looking for, a big house, nice cars and to travel, and have some money to save.

        1. Yeah goodluck with that, $350k year jobs don’t grow on trees.

          You have to be in a pretty specialized field to make that.

          Work on making $100k a year and go from there and even that won’t be a easy.


    So $200K achieves happiness, but you have to work to get it?
    How much passive income achieves happiness? $40K? $100K?

  93. Regarding your comment:
    “Just remember that your happiness, as measured by income will continue to grow until $200,000 and then stop because of government persecution and the bitter populace who want to keep you down. After you break $200,000 you need to start going into hiding. So if you discover after taking my advice that you are on pace to blow by $200,000 a year, don’t forget to create an exit strategy!”

    What kind of government persecution? Are you referring to the bump up to 33% fed tax?
    What should one do if they make over 200k? What do you mean by going into hiding and creating an exit strategy?

  94. Hi there Financial Samurai! I’m a young artist and though I’m not making art for the money, I do hope to make something out of it. Do you think it could be a profitable field if done right or should I pursue something else if I would like to be in the six figure range?


    1. Art is one of the toughest things to do to make six figures. The first thing I would do is set up your website so you can own your brand and build your brand online. There needs to be a combo of making great art and marketing your art. Good luck!

  95. This article has been so inspiring to me! I’m a junior in high school and I’m so ready to get out of it and into the real world. They always say money can’t buy happiness, which I agree with to an extent. But I have my standards… I wanna live at the beach in a nice house. And I want to live comfortably. And I want to be able to take care of my family. And a little money would go a long way to helping that. So thank you for all of this wonderful advice!

  96. Hello I just stumbled across your blog. A bit of back ground. I garudated with a degree in accounting in 2008. I got a job at a small firm, but got fired 3months in. I tried my best but I wasn’t getting it and no one was helping me learn. I went back to school did a year of sciences and tried to come back to accounting. I didn’t get another job till 2011 and got fired 11 months in. I learned and applied myself but I also felt I just wasn’t wanted despite my best effort. Tried to get back into it to get my CPA but could not find a job. I found many recruiters to be rude and condescending. A bit more info on me I was a bit of a hot head in college and took shit from no one. I managed to make a lot of enemies very few friends. I feel this is another reason I can’t get work in my home town I just have a bad reputation, and my resume does not look good. I am now almost 30. I want to support my family but and I feel I need to go back and find a useful skill to do so. I was thinking about doing a two year engineering diploma in the energy field; doing IT + accounting; or going into nursing. Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thank you for hearing me out.

  97. Hello I just stumbled across your blog and I needed some advice, which is greatly appreciated. I graduated with a degree in accounting with a B average, got fired as a trainee after 4 months out. Decided to try my hand at med. Did a few courses did a little better. decided to go back to accounting and could not for the life of me a get a job, not even at the small firms. Finally got another accounting job 3 years after graduation, which i also got canned from. Then again tried to go back in to accounting cannot get a job. I am now almost 30 working a crap job and i really don’t know what to do. I want to go into IT possibly cyber security; I am thinking fuck it maybe nursing; or maybe a diploma program as an electrical engineer technologist . Part of the reason I can’t get a job in accounting because I have a shit reputation with my peers and the city I live in. Long story short I was a bit of a hot head in college and did not take shit from anyone. Great at making enemies not so could at making friends. I figure if I do IT I will stick with accounting as well if I can get my CPA that would make me valuable. But with this linkedin environment I am afraid my reputation will deny my opportunity in the IT field. I just don’t want to be in this position. i want more but I don’t want to make any mistakes. I really don’t know what to do or what strategy would be best. At the end of the day I want to provide for the people I care about. I have crap reputation and I think starting over is the best route, I can do IT + accounting; healthcare; electrical engineering. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  98. Medical Sales. I’m 5 years in and clearing 250K.

    This job is not for the faint of heart however. Salary is mostly commissions-based and you’re always under pressure to meet sales quotas.

    And get ready to live out of a suitcase.

      1. wat? man, i could do this forever lol ;)

        i don’t know how much stock you place in matching people’s temperaments with their jobs, but after working standard 9-5 salaried jobs early on, i quit because i couldn’t stand it. i think it’s important to know yourself (personality, work ethic, motivations, etc). i couldn’t be a doctor, for example, even though i know they make 6 digits.

        i learned several years back that producing better results than others and not getting paid more for it royally pissed me off. if i’m going to bring home the bacon, i should get a fat slice of it, right?

        all my coworkers are like that. just a different breed from ur typical security-craving salaried workers. we hate micromanagement, cubicles, office politics, and anything slow. most of us like to live extravagantly. i like all the ideas presented on your blog, but i just know for some reason that i’ll never be as frugal or smart about my money as you. i like buying big shit like cars, boats, motorcycles, and luxury condos. i tried living frugally, but it really bothered me. like i was hiding a part of me. and it affected my confidence levels at work! i bet this sounds really weird, huh? lol sad but its true. so i just decided to make peace with myself. i’m a big spender so i better be a big earner.

        so, i guess the point of this comment (haha, i get off track sometimes) is that while the jobs you list can all net 6 figure salaries, the most important thing to do FIRST is recognize what really motivates you. hope that was somewhat coherent.

        1. This is interesting to me because I just accepted a medical sales job with a great company and there is a lot of opportunity, however I left a job I really miss (didn’t realize how much I liked it until I left). Although the income potential is high in med sales, I’m really not liking the lifestyle of being on the road all the time. I also moved to a new place for the job and don’t know anyone so that doesn’t help either. Is it better to stick it out and see if something changes or accept that I made a career mistake and try to get out asap? I guess I get torn between going after a good opportunity vs going back to a job with less potential but maybe something I’d enjoy more.

          1. Stick it out.

            Too many people quit too early, never giving themselves a real chance.

            Once you commit to something, give it at least 6 months. No matter how shitty it gets, stay for at least that long then re-assess.

            The money is awesome. It’ll get you addicted ;)

      2. This is interesting to me because I just accepted a medical sales job with a great company and there is a lot of opportunity, however I left a job I really miss (didn’t realize how much I liked it until I left). Although the income potential is high in med sales, I’m really not liking the lifestyle of being on the road all the time. I also moved to a new place for the job and don’t know anyone so that doesn’t help either. Is it better to stick it out and see if something changes or accept that I made a career mistake and try to get out asap? I guess I get torn between going after a good opportunity vs going back to a job with less potential but maybe something I’d enjoy more.

        1. I understand exactly where you are coming from, I guess the money can drive you away from a social life, how ever being on the road may not be so bad, especially if you get to make it to your home every now and then.

  99. I think setting a goal of a 100k salary is a joke step outside the box and be realistic make it to a million , I’m 20 years old and making well over 100k selling diamonds in Scotland unitedkingdom

  100. Hi –

    Interesting and motivating article. I didn’t take high school very seriously, and I only took my last 3 years of my 4.5 years of college with strong intentions to succeed. I got my GPA back up to a 3.33 from a 2.76 and landed two summer internships with Fortune 500 companies during school. I now work at one of those said companies and will gross just north of 85k after base salary, relocation, and sign-on bonus (also, could be closer to 88-90k depending on my performance bonus).

    I do have to comment though on your section where you mention pursuing an MBA for a higher salary. This is risky. In order to attend one of those top universities full-time (because I’m fairly certain those universities don’t have part-time programs, and if so, part-time programs are not looked at with the same respect as full-time from recruiters), one must give up 21-24 months of employment (which, in my current situation is about $140-145K) as well as pay $120-140 for the program. That’s $280,000 in costs.

    Also, to assume you can land a job with one of the fore-mentioned companies in your article, you must be a top performer. Not just in grades, but in networking, social groups, and even down to kissing ass to your professors. For example, It’s even been said that HBS (Harvard Business School) is one big networking program, if not almost a party (any HBS or Ivy League readers – I’m not saying that being intelligent, knocking out your case studies, and making those great grades aren’t important – I’m just emphasizing the importance of networking). Plus, you must assume you have a hand up against the students who are there solely based on nepotism. Also, most universities won’t let you go with less than 3 years of experience. After three years of experience, you may face some really – I would hope – great opportunities with the company you began your career with, even if they aren’t six figures right away.

    Although it’s an attractive way to make six figures, it’s extremely difficult. It’s obviously possible, and saying that, doesn’t compromise your article’s point. However, I think you should have stressed the blood, sweat, and tears that people put forth to go through those programs and not advertise it as a, “Hey, almost anyone can get into one of these top fifteen schools and make $240,000/yr. after two years of employment” in such a nonchalant manner (oh, and the 70-80 hour weeks).

    On another note, my question to you author – Let’s assume you’re single, no debt, no kids. Would you rather work 70 hours a week and make $100,000/yr. or 40-45 hours a week and make $85,000/yr.?

    1. Andrew Ernst

      Hi Drew,

      After reading your comment I feel I could gain some very valuable advice from you. I am a recent college graduate and began my first “career” job about 6 months ago in accounting. It is a small company with little room to promote so I am interested in learning more about how to get into a major company like the one you work for. Your advice sounds much more realistic, and I am more than willing to do what it takes to get there. I would greatly appreciate a response.

      Thank you,
      Andrew E.

  101. “You’ve got a second chance by simply going to business school.”

    Ha, right. Pile on debt, slick your hair back, get your teeth whitened, palm press with other dead-behind-the-eyes extremists and hope someone hands you mega cash.


    Obtain a technical skill-set that employers demand, work on problems that matter, make a modest gain in base salary, and live a less stressful, balanced life.

  102. Since when is it an American custom to put your GPA on your Resume?

    Been reviewing Resumes for 10+ years and the only time I see a GPA is 4.0 from a prestigious University, but certainly never a high school GPA.

  103. I was just searching around on the net and found this blog. I saw an ad for inside sales that paid 50k as a base and FULL benefits 401K and all. With commissions it would max out at 85k if you hit quota according to the ad. Tempted to apply but when I see what is at home although Im not at 100k yet (not even close) I am not going back to the cubicle farm. Working for someone else will not get me to the 150k mark. This blog has given me more motivation!

  104. Hi, I started reading your blog this year, and came across this article you posted in 2010. By 100K, do you mean just the base salary or does 100K include bonus as well? This may be a stupid question, but still decided to ask :)

    1. Hi Nita, welcome. I include all income, so that includes base. But don’t include benefits value like health insurance.

      I’ve written a lot of new posts since this post. Enjoy perusing through the categories!


  105. Hello,

    I love your blog and financial advice. You are very knowledgeable on a wide range of topics.

    What fields do you think are most lucrative for sales people? I want to consider all my options at this point and maximize my earnings potential.

    I have spent the last 4 years doing B2B business development for a small electronics engineering & manufacturing firm. I am going to break 100k this year, but it has been a struggle given that my products are commodities essentially and my engineers won’t tackle anything too difficult (lucrative) unless I put up a massive fit or try figuring it out myself. My company treats me very well, nice office, great boss, flexible hours etc.. but I sometimes wonder what greener pastures may exist for me in the future. At the last small company I worked for there were three sales managers making 200-400k, but they were all in their 60s, 70s(yep), or the son of the owner. I would like a faster track to higher pay. By the way I live in Chicago, I’m in my early 30s, and I have an MBA(although not top 15). I think that education is extremely important, but in sales it is very much my impression that it is all about experience and results.

    Any advice you could offer on other more lucrative fields for sales would be greatly appreciated.



    1. Making 100k in Chicago is solid given how inexpensive housing is comparatively.

      If they treat you well and you have a 100k income , I wouldn’t move. I’d do something you want to do on the side to fill any voids. That’s what I did and three years later I just blog full time while I’m here in Switzerland at the moment.

      Always good to have a new subscriber!


      1. Thank you for the sound advice. I really do like how my company treats me, especially compared to the large corporations I used to work for. I have been in discussions with my wife to start a small side business for over a year. We are still preparing to launch(lots of legal red tape), but it is probably time we took our efforts to another level.

        You are right about inexpensive housing in Chicagoland. To each their own, but in my very humble opinion moving to the Northside of Chicago from New York City proved to be one of luckiest/smartest things I ever did lifestyle, career, marriage, and savings wise. Salaries are comparable to other large wealthy metros, but housing and other expenses can be as much as half due to zero physical constraints on sprawl. That is other than Lake Michigan to the East, which is like a freshwater sea with city parks, beaches & waves. The lakeshore is also where population density is highest and property most expensive in the 10 million person metro…yet still reasonably affordable for what you get.

        By the way, your blog convinced me to more than max out all my retirement plans and then some. I naively neglected my savings during my early/mid 20s as I pursued more adventurous(low paying) work in Europe and took out loans for an MBA. I envy your ability to live and work from beautiful Switzerland. I hope that I too can establish myself in such a way to split my time between Chicago and S. America (where my wife is from).

        Thanks again,


  106. Duke Student

    I’m going into a Top 10 school (Duke), but am unsure of what to major in other than something math/science/engineering related–I’m fortunate enough to enjoy all technical fields. I initially considered Biomedical Engineering, since it’s Duke’s strong suit, but it seems like quite the gamble; electrical/computer engineering or computer science seems a far safer route.

    I want to be 100% done with school by 25, making ~100k by 30 and 150-200k in my 40s–hopefully more. However, most technical careers seem to top out at around 100k mid-career, which doesn’t satisfy me.

    In your opinion what college degrees and respective careers are most likely to help me accomplish this financial goal? For example, I was once advised that a BS/MS in electrical or computer engineering paired with an MBA was one of the safest routes to a high-paying career (meaning you don’t have to rely on working for a specific company or in a specific area). Would you agree with this, or do you have other thoughts and ideas on the subject?

    1. BS on Engineering plus MBA from a top 15 school is going to give you a great chance at making six figures for the majority of your career.

      Just remember to work on your writing and speaking skills. Social skills are important too.

  107. I agree with James, you have placed too much emphasis on education. Your article starts and ends great, but your own limits are revealed in the middle.

    I imagine you value your own education very highly.

    As a service provider to several different types of business owners over the past 25 years, I think it is not the education but rather the execution of process and people that make the difference. More times than not I have seen educations get in the way of continuing education than not. Truly the learning or connection making does not stop at school and to imagine that it only starts there is foolish.

    I really liked how you opened though, I have taught my kids all of those things with the emphasis on being nice, I have seen the most incompetent people at the highest levels of management because they were nice.

    The real limit for most people to six figures is their own mentality and the unwillingness to let time do it’s thing.

    Nicely written. Great Job.


    1. I used to think education was overrated, and personally swore off not going back to school after I finished my undergrad. Then the economy hit the skids form 2001-2005 and I went back to get an MBA part-time. I know think education is underrated, not only for the things you learn, but for the connections you make and the confidence a good education gives everyone.

      The biggest difference in helping kids who live in difficult environments is to get as much education as possible. Once you have knowledge, you can free yourself to do so many new things. One of those things is earning six figures as this article mentions. But there are many other things.

  108. You put a lot of emphasis on educational institutions. Do you deem them so important because of the diplomas they provide or because of the skills they promise to teach you? Because if it’s the latter, you might be better off just learning it all on your own—faster, cheaper and, in many cases, more effective.

  109. About the GPA, I am from Germany and my grades don’t exactly translate well into the American system. It seems hard enough anyway to get an interview being from another country with a totally different education and job market culture, not to mention we add our picture and a bunch of personal information on our CV versus the American resume.

    Once I go for my Masters, I suppose I should pick an American school, so companies know what the degree stands for? And what about online studies? As long as it’s from Penn State or NYU, is it okay? I work full time in supply chain management and have a second job on the side. In-class education is simply not an option.

    Also, what do you think about certificate programs? Penn State offers certificates next to their degree programs. For example, project management exists as a Master’s degree program, but the certificate they offer is just as well a PMI respected education and much cheaper and faster. What do you think, Samurai?

  110. You got a good article here but a lot of points are way off in real world sense. Any monkey that can read and regurgitate information can graduate with a high gpa. The real truth behind success is thinking outside the box. I’m 22 avg student yet run a successful business (100-120k/yr) while in college. With this article your saying go from box to box first your in an educational institution spending all your time and effort getting A’s then your working for someone in a corporate box. Let your bank account be your resume. The world needs more entrepreneurs

    1. But will you be capped at $100-120k/year? What’s your upside if the business fails and you graduate a average student from a mediocre school? What is your business?

      Do share your insights.

  111. 42 year old with 4 kids

    My grades were terrible in high school. I did better in college. I still graduated debt-free, and made very little money the first few years in business. With positive mental attitude and a game plan in place, I was able become debt-free by 35, and my income is very good for my age. Now that I’m debt-free, I’ve been able to save for retirement (what I should have done first).

  112. orchestra player

    I have been reading for a while but first time posting. Thank you for your great blog! I see that you added the classical music (symphony orchestra) as one the high paying industries. I hope you don’t mind me adding some insights to that…

    I think you should add major sports league before you add classical music as one of these high paying jobs. It’s similar, people don’t do music/sports for money! But people do it for the love of it AND the money it brings at the very very top of the industry! In sports it is millions of $, in the case of symphony orchestra, it is 100k+. I work in the industry and it is misleading to list it along with other jobs in your post.

    Yes, people who perform on stage look like a big group of people and they have union. Perhaps when you read the article about the strike you were surprised to know symphony players earn six figure salary, but only about 1% gets to play in the 100k+ salary orchestra from top music schools (Juilliard, Curtis, NEC, etc). I am a lucky few who plays in a major orchestra with 100k+ pay, but I spent my 20s practicing everyday earning $10k-$20k until I finally won the audition at age 30. (33 now) In order to be competitive in auditions, I own (parents and grandparents paid) an instrument that costs $300k. Most of the straight A students from top music school I know now earn below $50k. As a music student, it is a big success if one wins an orchestral job with $50k salary. Many try to teach and freelance at a $5k orchestra job to scrape by.

    There are less than 10 orchestras in the US that pay $100k or more. Depending on the instrument there are only about 0 to 5 position openings total (5 being maybe violin, 0 is maybe a tuba position) per year from those top orchestras. Each year, there are thousands of graduates from top music schools and they compete for that position in auditions. I auditioned and failed so many times I lost count. Of course when the economy sinks, the number of auditions decline even more. (orchestra tries to save money by hiring temp subs instead which is detrimental to the artistic quality)

    In the classical music industry, teaching at school and orchestras are about the only jobs that pay living wage. Also, students (especially string instruments and piano) almost never get into top music schools if one starts after 10 years old. I started practicing my instrument when I was 5. You cannot decide in your high school years that you want to become a member of the SF Symphony, it’s too late.

    Is becoming a $100k+ earner in orchestras like SF symphony just as competitive as joining a major sports league? Maybe. It’s just that $100k+ symphony job openings are so rare that no one can really count on it. Orchestra is a very unique job and often general public don’t know how people got there. Of course not everyone value and want to support arts. But when those few $100k orchestra job salary disappear, the live symphony music we hear today will die.

    I hope you agree that SF Symphony job don’t really belong in the list! Thank you so much for reading.

    1. Howdy! U added orchestra/symphony player after discovering the SF folks went on strike for a 5% pay increase. Making $150,000 a year to be a top player is not huge by any means, but it is six figures. I hear what you are saying completely.

      The point I’m trying to make is that six figures can be achieved in a variety of industries, not just finance, high tech, law, and medicine. If one is the top of their field, they will likely earn six figures. I want to eradicate the limiting beliefs people have about making a six figure salary. By removing the musicians, I am denying reality.

      I will add professional athletes to the list. Thanks!

      1. orchestra player

        Thank you for your comment, but I don’t think I felt the need to comment if your post was about “six figures can be achieved in a variety of industries if one is the top of their field”. Don’t we all know that? College prof, photographers, athletes, actors, dancers, musicians, designers, personal trainers etc. You wouldn’t list these as $100k+ industries, do you? I wrote my last comment to explain that symphony orchestra industry also does not fit into the “industries that often pay six figures within 3 years out of school”.

        Furthermore, symphony orchestras are non profit organization and cannot support itself without the donation from the public. We know this is a challenge. I explained in the above comment that top symphony musicians have been dedicating their whole life to this traditional art form and that is why they have to fight hard to keep our salary competitive (even mere 5%).
        Should market dictate how much symphony musicians get paid? If that happens, those few $100k jobs or even $50k jobs will disappear. And let me say it again, currently, only 0-5 people in the whole US per instrument group get to have those $100k symphony positions every year.

        Of course it’s up to you whether you keep the classical musician in the list of high paying industry. I just took the time to explain because I wanted to let an influential person like you know the reality of those $100k symphony musicians on strike. I can say this with confidence, though. If someone is looking to make six figures, classical music industry is the last place to consider getting in unless you have already started practicing at age 5! :)

        1. You make good points. My overall point is for folks to stop pitying themselves and know that if they want to make more, they can make more in many different fields of choice.

          We cannot discount the dedication of others who spend their lives to write well, sing well, invest well, and so forth. It’s good to fight for one’s rights. I would probably not go on strike for being underpaid by 5%, but that’s just me.

          We go into professions with our eyes wide open. I do believe in market forces at the end of the day. We do what makes us happy in our free world. We can riot, picket, or choose to do something else.

  113. If you put forward no effort and receive no results, you are also not entitled to complain about your situation. I’m still working towards $200k/year. That does have a nice ring of happiness to it.

  114. A few corrections need to be made here:

    1) If your grades stink, you can’t go to a top MBA program. You can still make six figures honorably by going entrepreneurial or by getting hired despite poor grades, but you’re probably not getting into an elite business school.

    2) Business school, even a top-20 MBA, isn’t usually lucrative after 20 years. The degree “expires.” I’d look more into other, more productive uses of education. The business schools publish these dubious studies by including very small sample sizes.

    3) Anything over 3.0 puts you in the running for most jobs in engineering, but projects and experiences are much more important than grades.

    4) Medicine is the only profession where a GPA over 3.5 is usually needed.

    1. 1) How do you know? Is this from your experience of getting rejected due to poor grades?
      4) What about law? That is 90% plus focused on grades.

      What is your background so I understand where you are coming from? Do you have an MBA? How old are you? Do you make six figures?

      1. I know that you almost always need good grades to go to a top MBA program
        because most B-school advisors and admissions directors state this fact. I’m also closely related to someone who went to a top MBA school and he doesn’t recommend pursuing that
        course because he thinks the salary statistics are inflated via clever sampling survey methods. Also, people can use other degrees to do what most MBA’s do.

        Regarding law, while the top law schools require great grades, most law schools consider
        applicants with GPA’s over 3.0. My sources on this are primarily law school websites and
        admission counselors. I also know that there are successful attorneys from all tiers of law schools. There are definitely lawyers from fifth-tier law schools earning well-over 100K.

        I’m twenty-three. I was very late to go to college due to personal reasons, but I’m an undergraduate studying engineering. I do not make six figures currently, but I’ve find your blog generally informative so far and hope it will help me make six figures some day.

        1. Gotcha, even though you have not graduated undergrad yet, do not have an MBA, and do not make six figures, I appreciate your correction and your perspective.

          If you have any more thoughts on how to make six figures, please share.

  115. I also wanted to point out, there is a reader Slava who compares 100K salary ti Russian ones. He might not know that we are talking 100K before taxes… so at the end, it’s not as big as it sounds.

  116. Wow, these salaries and success stories are amazing, and making me wonder what I did wrong. I earned my BS in Computer Science in 1986. Now, after an MBA and an MS Risk Management, two lay offs, a few missed/blown opportunities, and the Great Recession, my 2013 annual salary is exactly the same as 1999 – well under $100K, in a mid-sized, mid-cost, coastal FL city.

    There is little opportunity for me to hit $100K with my current employer, but benefits, flexibility, and job security are good, and my round trip commute is two miles.

    On the other hand, due to good saving and consuming habits, at 49 y/o, my net worth is $800K and growing.

  117. I’m 26, and I have served 6 years in the Navy. I am out, and using my GI bill at The University of Nevada Reno. I was an engineer in the navy, and I worked on potable (drinkable) water systems. My degree is going to be in Hydrology. My 6 years of solid experience and 5 years in school, I feel are going to give me one hell of a leg up in the working world. I am also a yacht captain at Lake Tahoe. One thing that is driving me is getting property in the most beautiful part of the country for my future wife.
    Do you think that is a bad motivation? Am I making the right steps to make 150,000k to 200,000k a year?

    1. I think that’s GREAT motivation! Have a goal of why you want to make money, and go for it. Otherwise, making more money for money’s sake is a waste of time b/c I firmly believe none of us need much more than $50,000 a year to live a comfortable life.

  118. Her Every Cent Counts

    This forumla you have makes sense for some people, but not all. Case in point – I went to a college in the midwest that no one has heard of, graduated with a 3.2 GPA, and at the age of 29 closed the year with a $110k salary. My boyfriend went to one of the top 10 public institutions in the country, graduated with a 3.8 GPA, and last year earned about $20k. Yes, having a degree from a top-tier institution may have increased my current salary even more, but I think had I gone that route I would have went into a less exciting career and given myself less chances to fail. Instead, with my average academic background, I’ve been able to live out many careers in my 20s – as a business journalist, and then in a variety of roles in startups where I could put my writing skills to use. I learned how to negotiate and that’s why I’m making six figures today (and I also have a sizable stock package that could be worth more a few years down the road.) My salary clearly has nothing to do with my academic performance. Sure, Google would never hire me because I don’t meet their hiring criteria, but who needs Google when you can start out as one of the first employees of a startup and help make that startup worth hundreds of millions of dollars?

      1. Her Every Cent Counts

        I don’t think I would have done worse financially at all. I just think it evens out in the end of you make the right choices. I probably would have started with a much higher salary out of the gate. Put there’s a possibility then I would have been spending my time with people who put value on superficial items, and I’d spend more money on my apartment, car, clothes, etc. I’d probably try to stay in that job for many years, if it were paying well, versus having a real reason to leave positions to quickly move up and try different things. Right now I’m in a private company that is excelling and due to being open to any opportunity I was able to work a job that paid relatively little compared to market rate in exchange for a large amount of options. It’s yet to be seen if these options are going to be worth anything, but at this point there’s a reasonable change that I could meet or exceed the amount of savings I would have had, say, if I were making $100k out of the gate after graduating from an Ivy League school. Having a low income out of undergrad forced me to prioritize and learn how to save, and also how to live on a salary of under $30k a year in the Bay Area. While I’m still scared of losing my job, I understand how to live cheaply, which I consider a value-add to not having such high expectations and requirements for lifestyle out of the gate. Now, I am considering getting an MBA if I could possibly score well on the GMAT (I believe if I could get a high score on the GMAT I’d be an interesting candidate for a top-tier MBA program given my experience working with multiple successful startups as an early employee) but I’m not sure I want to take two years off to do that. If I were to go back to school I feel it would be more valuable to specialize in technical development or analytics, to really address areas where I am weak that would lead me to be a much better professional today. It’s unclear if an MBA program would be able to address my weaknesses — or give me the salary boost you speak of as with bonus I now make up to $130k per year (last year I closed out the year with about $110k.) I’m 29 and 7 years into my career. I save, I invest, and I’m glad I didn’t make all of the “smart” decisions in my life because this made me hungrier, potentially more well rounded, and less scared of taking risks as I had so little to lose.

        1. Her Every Cent Counts

          Well, Chico State has a reputation as a party school, so this might not be a fair comparison. I personally went to a program that was extremely well respected in the arts, but as an academic institution was just fair. In actuality I had some really amazing professors (some who had PhDs from Ivy League schools, some who didn’t) but my choice was made based on the quality of my program versus the overall school. I did decide on a liberal arts school versus just an arts school because I wanted the option to expand outside of just an arts population. So, in that sense, if Chico State happened to have a better program in the field my “son” was going into versus Harvard, I’d say go for it. I’m not making the argument that if one has the academic intellect to do well in school that he/she should avoid going to a top-tier academic institution, what I am trying to say is that it’s not the only way to do well in life. In fact, I’ve met many people from top-tier schools who act entitled and think certain work is below them, whereas I’ve been hired and tend to be a respected employee because I’m willing to get my hands dirty. Again, this is not saying every Ivy graduate is this way, but same goes for every graduate from a “Chico” as you put it. When I was applying to college I got into Rutgers which is a fairly good school academically (not an Ivy, but at least up there with the top public schools) and I chose to go to a school that was less prestigious on the academic front because it was a better fit. I was a theatre major. I ended up switching to minor in journalism and sociology. I had an internship with Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmakers who had a program set up with my school, and was able to help compile research for cable TV news programming. Point being, the opportunities for success are everywhere. If you’re really smart, you’d skip college altogether and spend your college tuition building a business or two. Sure, you might never have the stability of working in a consulting firm or at a big tech company, but the people who get really rich (or at the least who lead “rich lives”) are often the ones who don’t follow the typical road to success.

          1. another one

            Similar situation to Every Cent counts. I graduated with BA in political science from a relatively unknown school. I’m 26, but will break 6 figures in 1-2 years max (95k currently). Currently I have offers for 110-130k not including bonuses (I like my job so refusing for now, because work-life was suffering). I read up on in-demand tech skills like advanced analytics and software engineering. That’s how I did it. You don’t need to work at google, just be solid at programming and know in-demand skills.

  119. Hey Dan,

    This post is a little late, but can I ask where you’re getting your data? The top paid positions at these oil and gas operators are petroleum engineers and I’ve never heard of a 200k starting or even 150k…?

    If you work for a major (Shell, Chevron, BP, Conoco) they pay about 90 – 100k starting for petroleum engineers and about 70-80k for mechanical/chemical/electrical engineers. The exception is Exxon (they pay more because it’s a terrible work environment, but they make the most profits). If you work for a smaller independent, perhaps it gets bumped up 10k or so. Bonuses are typically 10-20%. I’m a recent graduate in Petroleum Engineering working for Shell.

    If you make it into management or expat assignments w/ 10 yrs of experience, I agree you can make large amounts of money.

  120. Financial Samurai – Just found your site and lovin it!

    I’ve got an industry you could add to your list of jobs that pay well over $100,000 a year – the oil industry. Now, most people think that working in the oil industry is dangerous, dirty, smelly, gross etc. That’s if you work on the labor side of the oil industry not if you’re working for an operator (Exxon, Shell, Chevron, BP, Conoco) in the office. If you’re lucky enough to land a job at one of these 5 companies out of school as an engineer or geologist you can easily expect to make $125,000-$200,000 starting.

    After a few years (3-5) of hard work you could very easily see $250,000+. On top of that if you’re working for an operator there are field jobs to available to manage rigs or construction projects which pay $300,000-$500,000. Now to top it all off, if you work for an operator in a field position OVERSEAS… expect to make $500,000-$800,000.

      1. you need to revise your 100k per year guidelines. youre implying that simply doing well in university will get you a good job. thats not the case. you need to elaborate on type of degrees. you can do super well in a degree like asia. american studies and that wont do shit.

        youre also implying that you can only make this amount by going to university.also not the case. same with mbas some dont benefit you at all.

        you need to add i trades as a source of making a six figure incomes.

        university grades arent everything. yoy just need the bare minimum to reach whatever goal it is you want. 90% of the time youll learn everything on job and your grades wont mean shit. btw check out how many phds, masters, and undergrads work st your local starbucks. right now btw my friends and i, all who have degrees, the median is around 40k. with the upper end at 80k.

        1. Sounds like you need to go back to high school. Lack of punctuation, capitalization, apostrophes, btw? BTW?! Look at how you’re talking and yet you’re complaining about an article to help people get the big picture? Pathetic really. Someone like you shouldn’t even be reading a journal/article like this, when basic grammar isn’t even part of your being or intelligence, well lack of intelligence I should say. Best of luck to you. Griping on something like this isn’t making you any more money than those who read this and get motivated. Feedback is always welcome when things like this are posted, but you’re so rude and ignorant that it really defeats the purpose. Best of luck to you

          1. Matt Stevenson

            Sure he was disagreeing, but how was he being rude? You’re the one insulting his grammar and education when he might not even be a natural English speaker you over sensitive, pretentious loser.

          2. You don’t exactly have stellar punctuation, yourself. You come across as mean, reactionary and elitist. Telling people they don’t write well enough to read an article? For real? I didn’t realize the written word was supposed to be safe-guarded from people whose written skills are deemed unworthy. With that logic, no preschooler should ever read anything, ever. Had you considered that maybe he was replying using a mobile device? Not every device comes ready to add contractions to words, and for the sake of quickly getting your point across, you just roll with it. You didn’t even comment on the content of his remarks. Learn to read for meaning and you will be more successful at criticizing others. If you criticize only the superficial, you will be seen as superficial and lose every time. BTW (see what I did there?), it’s widely accepted that people who pick at grammar only do so when they have nothing substantive to contribute. Questioning his intelligence because of his punctuation only calls into question your own. Best of luck to you.

    1. Hi Dan,

      Thanks for sharing this information. I actually work as a Project Management consultant in the technology and healthcare industry but I really want to get into construction project management because I love architecture I was also interested in natural resources project management just for a change but, it is very difficult to switch from one industry to another any advice?

      Thanks in advance,


      1. Hey I am a 14 year old boy and I am already thinking about my future. I’m and A and B student but I am trying harder everyday to make straight a’s. Any advice for me? To make 6 figures plus a year?

        1. You sound like me… focused on my finances as a freshman in HS already.

          * Grades really matter. Don’t let your peers who aren’t getting straight A’s say they don’t matter. They don’t know. Once you have great grades, doors open from the best universities.
          * Grades, social skills, communication skills, and networking matter in college. Do it all, and don’t take a summer off to slack off. Take a summer to learn and get experience!
          * Study majors that are interesting and provide good returns.
          * There are many industries that pay six figures as you can see in this post. A lot of it is a function of time.

          Then read: Focus On Net Worth More Than Growing Income

        2. Not to knock school, but I have to seriously disagree with this article. This is the same nonsense that has been brainwashing civilians to be perfect little 9 to 5 slaves for centuries. Listen, if you want to make real money, learn the tax code, learn about the 3 different types of income (Earned, Portfolio, and Passive) and how each differs in regards to taxes. Learn how to make your money work for you and not work for money. I’m not bashing the middle class for working to sustain or improve their lives, but to truly breach the limits of financial success, one must make a full commitment to FINANCIAL EDUCATION. Academic education will only improve your scholastic knowledge. Now leveraging the knowledge not necessary for a job but a venture that fills a requirement will benefit you to the max. Learning how to leverage money and assets will make you wealthier beyond your imagination.

          1. Can you share with us what gave you the courage to skip college? And how did you come up with your business idea and get started?

            I left corporate America after 13 years to focus on my online business full time. But unlike you, I went to college and got my MBA for Cal. I enjoyed the experience, especially since it was cheap or free (government paid).

            There’s not one way to build financial wealth, so I’d love to hear your story how you did it and how old and how much have you accumulated.


            1. Hi Sam, I’m new to your site and getting so much out of it. You mentioned you got your MBA for cheap or free–have you already written a post on it? I may not have gotten to your post yet, but I’m preparing for the GMAT and application process next month and need help figuring out how to get my MBA for cheap or free too. Can I ask how you did it? Any pointers please? Thanks!

  121. I’m now in my late 20s working in the media industry but not in sales, where the money tends to be in media. I’ve been working for 5 years and am in programming management, but not even close to $100k.

    I didn’t graduate high school, but have definitely proven my ability to be a driven, productive and successful employee and manager. I attended a private career college as a mature student then climbed the ladder rather quickly. Although, I love the industry I work in I am very interested in earning a 6 figure salary.

    Is it worth the risk of more student loans, knowing that you’re targeting an industry that will pay 6 figures quickly? I guess you just have to jump up an do it, eh?

  122. Hello, I am a Sophomore in college at Humboldt state majoring in Biology currently and I am only doing that because I wanted to be a vet but now I have changed my mind but people around be are saying to stick with biology. I have heard of the idea applying to the top companies but I am interested in what field i should be majoring in. I went and talk to the business major counselor and that didn’t sound like anything I would be good at and enjoy ( as with all the majors right now). So my question to you is what major would be good to do to apply for the top companies ? and will the career be just like the major?

    1. Hi Starr,

      I recommend you do what you like and get the best grades possible so you have options when you graduate. Do not mess around because this is the beginning of your life.

      Be prepared to go where the opportunities are and be flexible!


  123. Before my Dad passed when I was thirteen, he established in me a strong mindset of ” no matter what you do son, don’t half ass anything. I hate a half ass! ” Now I’m 26, and this mindset has blessed every part of my life. With nothing more than a high school education, self learning, and an “I can do better, learn more, and give my all” attitude, I now earn 120,000 as a maintenance mechanic at a chemical plant. I believe it’s smart to know that success isn’t just about how much you make, it’s about what you have vs. what you owe. I bought my first house at 19, and a 100+ acre farm at 25. You may not get that dream job right away, but if you don’t give it your all at everything, all the time, you can’t blame circumstances. The day, or days, you decide to be lazy, there is someone out there who is pushing, who is going the extra mile, and who might get that dream job you wanted because they put in the extra effort. If you are looking at college, I can say that everyone I know that got a degree in biomedical engineering landed high paying, travel the world jobs right out of college.

  124. The funny thing of all this conversation is that I strongly believe that so long as one is a bit slow, or a dumb ass as i’d say, all the education from any school will not help them. There are many brain surgeons and such out there that should not be tampering with peoples oblangatas for obvious reasons. Furthermore, all of the business driven political asswipes in this country is exactly why we are kinda the laughing stock right now. Our beautiful reputation has been shot to hell by citizens who run their mouths for large amounts of money for a living. Then buying up multiple properties and multiple everything else’s, thus driving up the costs of everything and the majority of people are truly in this lower class because the middle class has vanished.
    When the power of love is greater than the love of power, then the world will be a better place.

  125. Interesting article and dialogue. I went to a lower end UC, and graduated in Political Science, a major which doesnt pay right away. I instead got into direct sales for a cable company and made 130k my first year out of college by selling cable door to door. I made even more the second year. Been there for fooir years now – earning 100k-150k but dont see it going mucb higher. Not sure what to do to hit that next level. Toying with the idea of going ack for my MBA to take that next leap of faith but its hard to leave my income and incure a 100k debt for a goood business school. I agree, being motivated, working hard, being positive, not being a hard partier- but a hRd worker has helped me reach that sox figure mark. Thanks for the article.

  126. Get good grades, go to a top school, get hired by a prestigious company in IT, finance or become a doctor, lawyer, engineer. DUH!!! Nothing Earth shattering that I didn’t know. If you don’t have the aptitude for those careers, you’re screwed for 100K salary I guess. Actually, you can become an entrepreneur, buy a franchise, write and sell a screen play to a hit movie, write a best seller, or offer specialized personal services to rich people (chef, trainer). Of course there’s also pornography. The sex trade makes billions.

  127. I guess the grades that we got when we are in high school or college should not only be the basis of what we will be in the future. Haven’t heard of high school and college drop-outs making more than top executives make?

  128. I just want to point out that all though it is fantastic to go to college & to have great grades, innovative thinking & motivation can land you an awesome job. I graduated HS top of my class & went to a small private college for 2 years. I only have an AA degree (nothing to brag about though I always earned As). I decided to get married at 19 (I know, right?!) but when I was staying at home with the kids, I started my own real estate business & started making a 6 figure income within 3 years. I have doubled that within the past year & rake in over $300K per year working from home. I sell around 200 properties a year. I just hit 30 & make over $300K per year & started making 6 figures at only 28. I’m sitting pretty with a high paying job where I am in control of my own destiny. Work ethic & seeing an opportunity & knowing how to seize it is how I got there. With that said, I do value education & will likely go back to get a degree someday just so I can say I have one. For now though, I will focus on my $300K+ per year income & know that I made this for myself.

  129. franchise opportunities

    whilst in many situations having good grades etc helps your chances of earning more money it is by no means a sure start to riches and huge bonues. how many millionaires and billionaires started from nothing and worked up!! I will agree the one thing they have is work ethic

  130. I still believe that if you help enough people get what they want, you’ll get want you want as well and the best part is that there is no greater reward than to be able to help others be the best they can be.

  131. It’s unfortunate that you left IT out – yes portion of it have been outsourced. However I have several friends who work as social media technologist (monetize YouTube videos, twitter relationships etc.) that make over 6 figures. Also I work as an IT Business Analyst for a large consulting firm and make over 6 figures… My boss last year made over 200k (with bonus) for a midsize software development firm in retail. There is so much money to be made out there – BUT a lot of the old jobs are gone. I mean have we stopped to think about how some of those “crazy kids” running around on the internet blogging everywhere are now making 6 figures? That is a legit job that was created during the recession. Yeah people let’s make our own economic stimulus package! You have to find what the market is paying for these days – the money is out there.

    1. Thanks for the heads up. I need to edit Accounting to say Accountig/IT Consulting. That’s what I mean and will do so now as that’s what most of those firms do.

      Money is out there indeed!

  132. You’re right.. good grades doesn’t mean you will be wealthy. It just means you have some smarts and good work ethic… which is also what’s need to do well in your career or endeavors.

  133. Wil Possible

    Love this article and the suggestions. I recommend learning from life masters and mentors in addition to the suggestions. Sometimes who you know is more important than what you know. I personally favor Tony Robbins as he is extremely practical. I also feel his teachings are especially important in this New Economy.

  134. I think the key to making lots of money is testing a business model in a small scale and if it works, then multiply that business model ten folds then 20, 30 and etc..

  135. Sandy @yesiamcheap

    “Marrying for money always works.” I love this line. I’ve worked at investment banks and can’t tell you how many women worked there to up their chances of snagging a big fish. The older I get, the less a chance I have of marrying up. Damned scruples.

  136. Sam Sam Sam….

    Supply and Demand. Unis are turning them out like hotcakes, because there are just Too. Many. People. 100k a year jobs aren’t a result of optimism and good grades – grades are badly inflated now anyway. It’s connections and luck, which is why going to an Ivy is probably a better chance at a good paying job than going to the local Whatsamattayou.

    Look around the blogosphere; law school grads are taking perma-part time jobs, MBA’s are a dime a dozen, and on and on. As long as the population keeps climbing uncontrollably in the US, and as long as businesses can manipulate the government into helping them keep downward pressure on jobs through slimy programs like H1B’s, big salaries will be a thing of the past. It’s why you should think *really* hard about going to college. It’s not for everyone, and its no guarantee that you’ll do better than if you don’t. The old fable of going to college means you’ll make $1m more in your lifetime than if you don’t, has been disproved time and again.

    Save your money. Don’t rush to have children if at all. Don’t develop bad habits like needing to consume. We’re in a reset, we may have 10% unemployment (17% on the U6 which is a more realistic measure).


    1. Think really hard about going to college? As in, don’t go to college? No, I will never advocate that if someone has a chance to go.

      Luck is only a SMALL portion of success. It is what you do with your time that matters the most.

      Failures blame luck, or bad luck may it be. Winners believe in themselves.

      And to add,
      You are enjoying your cup of joe post hangover morning raking in money talking to these people. Trying to sell them on your own personal ideas….While Google and everyone else hand you money for marketing…..Its making you money by the second. When, reality here, these people are looking to forward their progress in life. They are in need of help. And you are making money on it. Good for you. That, my friend, does not even take a high school diploma to do. So, anyone looking to truly progress in life, monetarily or just for basic want of progression in life, which most of us under the 100k range deal with on a daily. This is not the place for you. Unless you are looking outside of the box and taking notes on his blog set up and advertisements.
      Good luck to us all that have worked hard for what we have in ways that someone more privileged, doesn’t understand. physical hard labor to get where you need to be, not want, but need. And to then still struggle. With hospital bills from the labor you work so hard just to hardly make it by, actually to not quite hardly make it by, because of those those dr bills we have to pay for our children and ourselves from physically working so hard to just survive.

      We are inflated with humans that hardly get the chance to a good upbringing let alone a good school system. The average wage in America is under $50,000 per family. Per family. Maybe you could actually help us and write a blog on how we unfortunate, 4.0 GPA or not, cant progress past a shitty system. These are the people that need financial help. Its the majority of America…..So, instead of taking your already privileged people in high school and making them richer, because if i could make 75000 a year i would be so grateful and fulfilled, as majority of us would, we would work harder for these companies than the average “privileged” kid…privileged i mean, good parents, good home life, decent teachers and help when needed……which is what America is so lacking, on paper we look great, so does my exhusband whom abused myself and my children for 7 years, maybe you could look at a bigger picture and help us. Help us and we will help you. You have the knowledge, take it to a lower level and help the less fortunate. We need it.

      Side note:
      As I read further to post this, I saw a next post about marrying for money. How dare…..I know it happens. I did it. After a 7 year extremely abusive marriage, which ended in debt over my head and my children still get to see this abuser and still has more time than should be allowed, due to a horrid system, with his perfect on paper persona, Works for the DOD, contractor, writing programs and coding for them, white collar perfect portrayal of family, to only be a devil in his own home behind closed doors…..

      The need for people with your knowledge to help us majority, could really help our country as a whole. Please take into consideration not just monetary value of your life, but what you can do to help us in need. I had a 3.9 in highschool, 3.7 at Purdue engineering, life happenings made me drop out of college, i had to earn money for my family, and help support them. I am now 41, a single mom of two girls, was able to leave a highly abusive marriage alive, working my ass off to make ends meet and it is never ending….We could use someone with your knowledge to help the millions that have had “bad luck”, been “dealt a shitty hand at life”. I guarantee the majority of us are the hardest working Americans in the country.

      Help us.

  137. The people that get paid the most are the ones that take ownership of problems, demonstrate leadership, and show their employers they are people who can be entrusted with the most difficult and sensitive tasks.

  138. Bucksome Boomer

    There are lots of jobs that can lead to $100,000 salaries. Having said that, they might be something people want to do. I believe in doing what you love; money is not enough!

  139. Love the message, Sam! You have to work your butt off to get there.

    Then again, Patrick is right too: $100,000 per year isn’t what it used to be.

    It’s still nothing to sneeze at, but inflation has made that number kind of average now.

    I think the new benchmark to shoot for when it comes to “nice salaries” is $150,000 per year, minimum.


    Len Penzo dot Com

      1. Queen Alford

        200k does sound nice. Personally I am very happy at my current income of 100k. Let me explain why. My base salary is 64k but I receive a monthly stipend from my employers of about 3500k-4K (it fluctuates). This stipend is non taxable so I only pay taxes on the 64k and the rest is a straight deposit to my account.

  140. I do believe that those five basic necessities you had pointed out are needed by anyone for any endeavor they may want and be successful. Whether they may want to attain six figures a year or more than that, it’s doable if they believe it is.

  141. Sunil from The Extra Money Blog

    when i was younger i thought 100k was a lot of money. it is no doubt, but i hit the mark much sooner than i expected. now i think 1M isn’t much at all. it’s amazing how perspectives change with experience. after all perspectives are relative aren’t they?

    to answer the question – yes it is very easy to make 100k – or more. why don’t many do it? many do not know how to go about it (how to even start). that issue stems from education and awareness (no exposure to that environment). those with the awareness do not have the will, or desire as you called it out. it takes a combination of awareness, desire and action to get there. you are right in that anyone can get there – IF they really wanted to

    i would add entrepreneurship to the mix to expedite the journey. establishing multiple streams of passive income has been the best experience for me from a financial perspective

    1. It is sad that our perspectives change so quickly. I think $1 million a year is a lot of money, but it would mean MUCH more if the government didn’t take 40%+ of it.

      Entrepreneurship is definitely a great way, or a really bad way. But, to do both, have a steady job and something on the side would be great.

      All it takes is making $9,500/month gross… people can do it if they wan to and try.

      1. Sunil from The Extra Money Blog

        I don’t see change in perspective as a good or bad thing, it is what it is and inevitable I think.

        I too regret that effectively a large chunk of what we earn goes to the government, but is there an alternative solution to how the country could be run? How much can 40% really be reduced and us still getting everything we want from a government/service/infrastructure perspective?

        Help me understand the last comment on making 9.5k/month. I agree that it is totally achievable, but I am not sure I understood the context of the entire statement?

        1. Sorry, I meant $8,333 a month. Was waking up from a hangover. It only takes $8,333 a month in income to get to $100,000 a year. People can work backwards ie from 0 to try and reach $8,333. Let’s say you make a decent $5,000/month from your day job. That’s just $3,333/month you need to make on a side income to break $100K.

  142. Money Reasons

    I think there is a high representation of state college C student that are millionaires, at least, according to the stats in “The Millionaire Mind” by Thomas J. Stanley.

    But then again being a millionaire doesn’t necessarily mean that you made the big bucks to get there, high earnners and millionaires are the same species, but different animals…

    Thanks for the great analysis above Sam! It’s very inspirational :)

    1. I agree but I think that it far more probable that the average A student would outearn the average C student over a lifetime.

  143. No prob Jeremy. Once you get there, you’ll feel a temporary relief and feeling of triumph. Then you’ll realize, wow… not that difficult and you’ll continue on an upward journey. It’s a fun goal and a game. But it’s not the end all be all.

  144. Becoming a longshoreman is hard to get into unless you’re family or have very close ties.

    I thought about marrying rich, but I would probably get bored shopping.

    And if I go to one of the top business schools, not that I am older, my salary will now just pay back my expenses.

    Hmmm… I guess that just leaves me with needing to make a bit more in my online income, combined with my current job and yes, $100K is possible. Now, if I would just throw 1/2 of that income into an investment… I’d hopefully be better off.

    1. Not the end of the world to get bored going shopping! You can always blog as you do on the side even if you married into millions!

      Investments can go either way, so just be careful. Good old savings is just fine with me!

  145. The easiest way to make 100,000 dollars a year is inflation ;) I’m young, when I’m old we’ll all be making 100,000 a year

  146. If you are going to work for someone else (ie a company), I think you left out one the most lucrative careers to make 100k-200k plus: sales.

    1. True. Don’t you think everybody pretty much sells though, so sales is an improperly used role? A CEO sells his/her story to shareholders, a banker sells deals, an Apple design engineer sells his design etc.

      1. The Financial Blogger

        You are right but the best salesmen of each industry will usually make more than the manager ;-)

  147. Even if you have no interest in those professions, the idea of maximizing your career and income is important. If possible, take advantage of opportunities and make some if necessary.

    You always have some food for thought in posts-great job!

    1. Thanks Elle! I’m just thinking, if someone is doing a job that doesn’t pay well i.e. teaching, then they are being fulfilled wholesomely by the job and it’s all good.

      If someone wants to make money and teach, well then there are just so many opportunities out there for one to grab!


    I think there are two basic ways to get to 100K. First is to plan a career that offers jobs that pay 100K as FS talks about above. The second is to follow a passion that can lead to 100K due to your skill or making a good business out of the passion. (So, the passion job is not typically a 100K job – but you find a way or you follow it to a direction that leads to that income).

    The jobs that out of box offer 100K or more usually aren’t the most fulfilling. That’s why they pay so much – they suck.

    1. I disagree that all the industries and jobs in the post suck since they pay so much.

      They pay so much b/c the revenue these people generate is 10X+++ more than they are making as an income.

      Don’t tell me an Apple Design engineer hates his job, or a Venture Capitalist who found Zynga and is about to make a 100 bagger hates his job. A lot of people LOVE their jobs, which is why they are so successful in the first place!

  149. The Financial Blogger

    I don’t agree with A and B students. I actually make 6 figures and I was a B student at college. I got A’s all the way while doing my master but it didn’t impact my income yet.

    you need to be smart while most schools teach you how to act as a monkey (monkey see, monkey do).

    There are some field of study where making 100K+ is quite tough (think of any child related job; teacher, daycare worker, child animation, etc). There are people who will never make 100K because their talents are not rewarded by money in our society (you will have a hard time finding a firefighter or police officer making 6 figures while all doctors will make it).

    In order to cope for your day job limitation, I think that starting a company / side line income would be an alternative.


    1. But you could have made $100,000 at 25 and not have to do the online revenue thing if you did get straight As. That said, you’ve clearly showed initiative, creativity and gumption! Which is why you have breached the 100K mark!

      100K is just the beginning for many who initially breach it. I’ll be curious to see after a couple years if you long for more!

      1. The Financial Blogger

        Making 6 figures after one or 2 years out of college is almost impossible in the financial industry in Montreal (mind you, jobs are very limited in this field, we are not in NY ;-) ).

        In fact, making 100K+ in Quebec is quite hard (when you consider that a doctor will make between 100K and 200K… not like in the states where they could make 500K+ ).

        Last year, I have barely made the 6 figures (106 or 107K), this year, I’m heading toward 130K… I hope that I’ll be making 150K next year. You are right, we always want more. However, I think there is something else; it becomes easier once you breach that psychological mark.

        1. Gotcha. Keep on going to $200,000 or whatever the level is that the Canadian government starts persecuting you by taxing you more than others.

          Curious to know what income level is that in Canada where taxes go up a disproportionate amount? What is considered “wealthy”?


        2. I’d say that once you make 100K+, you are part of the very wealthy in Canada. This is a weird country where you pay a lot of taxes and salaries are lower… doesn’t make sense for an American, right? hahaha!

          However, since life is cheap on many aspects (housing, insurance, medication), it’s not too bad.

          Marginal tax rate hits 45% at $80,000 and reach 48% at 125K in Quebec. Also, you get hit at 38% starting at 41K… we like paying taxes… maybe a little bit too much!

          avg income in Quebec is around 27K so when you make 100K, you are considering to make a lot of money.

          1. Oh WOW! Those are some low income hurdle rates to be paying 45 and 48%!!! But, there is no province or state tax to add right?

            We have 35% tax beyond $380,000, but also have to pay 5-10% state tax usually.

            Canada sounds like a cheap place to retire! But, maybe too cold??

          1. Nice. So I guess if one was making $500,000-$1 mil a year in California, they would be paying roughly the same taxes in Canada. Can you guys deduct your mortgage interest or anything, and is there a socialistic income limit to be able to do so?

        3. kbob connelly

          I wouldn’t say 500k+ is typical for physicians in the U.S. It depends a lot on specialty of practice. I married a physician who specialized in family medicine, which is primary care. Her prospects upon leaving residency are more between the 200k-300k range. I’m sure it could be more in other geographic regions. I know one family medicine physician who started his own clinic, grew it, hired other health care providers, and makes about 750k. I don’t think that is typical — he just works his behind off. My wife isn’t willing to live her life that far out of balance. She wants quality time at home as well. Surgeons probably earn the most, and I know getting into an anesthesiology residency is highly competitive. Anyway, to sum up my point in a brief way (too late!), there is a broad range of physician income highly dependent on specialty of practice.

      2. Sam, in eastern Canada, anything over 40K-50K per person is starting to be considered “wealthy”. The oil province is a little more lenient in this regard since they have oil money to compensate. In fact, in Canada we practice wealth redistribution on a provincial scale, and the rich provinces must contribute in order to support the poorer ones. Quebec receives a bit more than $1000 per capita IIRC.

        1. Kevin@InvestItWisely

          No, we cannot deduct our mortgage interest at any income level. In Canada, we do not give a big FU to renters. In fact, in some ways, we give the FU to property owners, instead (rent controls, tenant rights laws, property tax rebates for low-income renters, etc…)

  150. Good post! I think that you also need the right breaks to break the six figure mark. If you do some of the things listed above, you can strategically position yourself to be in line to make $100k or more.

  151. Greg McFarlane

    If I were hiring a college graduate, I’d pay more attention to field of study than GPA. Given the choice between someone who got a 4.0 in English or a 3.0 in mathematics, I’d be far more inclined to hire the latter. Even for a job irrelevant to both disciplines. The math student had a tougher workload and almost certainly knows how to attack a problem better.

    And it sickens me to point this out, but you did leave one crucial criterion off your list of basic necessities: connections. This may be wrong and stupid, but in my experience, it’s far better to be an underachieving college kid with influential friends who have rich parents than it is to be a diligent kid who doesn’t know anyone important.

    1. Connections are key, but I do mention this in my post, it’s just tied in with EFFORT. Check it:

      “* Effort. Unfortunately for the lazy, you’re actually going to have to try hard at first. Maybe you’ll wake up earlier than everyone else. Maybe you’ll network like a mad person. Maybe you’ll stop making excuses? No effort, no results.”

      I donno man… 3.0 is pretty average, even if it is in Math. I’d take the English 4.0 if they had the same work ethic and personality in a mathematically biased job still!

    2. OMG, Greg, you hit the nail on the head, in both points.

      To your first point: I graduated with Honors back in 1994 with a BFA in Graphic Design. I haven’t been able to find work in my field now since 2006. My little brother has a degree in business, which he only obtained after 6 years of just barely flunking out, and is now employed making 80k/yr.

      To your second point: I have no connections whatsoever. My little brother was a party animal (hence the reason why he almost flunked out of college for 6 years to get a 4 year degree), and because he was a party animal who hung with influential friends, he got that 80k/yr job. It’s all who you know.

      Consequently, I’m now back in school (just started this fall) to get a degree in Accounting, since I see my BFA in graphic design and Honors mean absolutely nothing. Still haven’t been able to make any influential friends though. :(

      1. BD, since you did Graphic Design, you goal wasn’t to make money right? It was to follow your passion for graphic art! Hence, isn’t that the more important and fulfilling thing?

        If you wanted to make money, you would have just entered one of the fields in the post no?

        Good luck in your master’s!

        1. Following my passion was definitely the wrong thing to do. I never advise anyone to ‘follow their passion, after what I went through. If your passion doesn’t pay a living wage, don’t follow it as your main career, follow it as your hobby. I wish someone would have told me thatthe first time around. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the internet and all these wonderful blogs when I went to college the first time.

          Thanks for the good wishes. I’ll have my Masters in Accounting in 2.5 years. I’m looking forward to actually making a living wage. I only wish I had done this sooner, rather than holding out and trying to find Graphic Design work.

          1. Ah, gotcha. Hmmm.. maybe you should write a post!

            But let me ask you this. When you were 16-21…. if you read this post, do you think it would have swayed you to go into one of the 5 fields that makes a good amount of money? Somehow, I find it hard to believe that you’d be willing to throw away your dreams of being a graphic designer, just to make a very healthy income no?

          2. I make over 120k as a graphic designer. Sticking with something your passionate about while making sure to follow trends and the direction of the design market is all it takes.

        2. I respectfully challenge your assertion that your graphic design degree mean
          absolutely nothing (in terms of achieving a large income.) I know four
          graphic designers (all freelancers) who make between $90,000 and
          $150,000. They just made a conscious choice to go after high-paying
          gigs in high-paying industries (entertainment, biotech, well-financed
          startups.) Think of it this way: biotech (pharmaceutical) companies will
          always need graphic design work as they bring new products to market. AND
          most of those big pharma companies are laying off their designers right
          and left, which means a wide-open market for freelancers. Another person
          I know makes just over $100,000 doing graphics design for corporate
          communications departments at large organizations.

          My only point is that in some industries (such as graphic design), it IS
          nearly impossible to make good money IF you work for someone else. But
          if you really like what you do, you will find a lucrative market.

          Fourteen years ago I quit my day job to become an executive presentation
          skills coach. Everyone thought I was nuts. My first year, I made $65,000;
          my second year I made $114,000. Why did I focus only on executives,
          when there is a much greater demand (and a larger market)
          for presentation skills among sales people? It’s called “follow the money.”
          I found the C-Suite people, entrepreneurs, and even some best-selling
          authors who were doing national book tours had the need, the desire, and
          most importantly the MONEY to pay me and pay me well for what I did.

          Is it easier to make a six-fig income in some of the industries mentioned?
          Absolutely. But if you hate what you do, you won’t stick with it.

          I firmly believe you will never get rich working for someone else. Being
          your own boss, where what you make will usually (although not always)
          equate to how hard you work, seems a slightly more reliable path to
          financial security. I have friends who have worked that tails off at big
          corps, only to get a standard 2-3% salary increase each year? WTF??

          1. Thanks for your thoughts and good rebuttal. Can’t argue there, although there are some occupations where you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars and over a million a year. You can certainly get rich that way too, and that is also following the money occupation.

  152. I don’t make 100K (most years…) but my little sister does. Don’t forget engineering and the big engineering firms. (And with engineering there’s no grade inflation most places so you don’t need a 4.0 in college to succeed.)

    And suuuure nothing about the post is meant to be controversial. That statement is like a microcosm for your posts! Innocently offering something controversial as if it were the most normal thing in the world. Definitely makes for fun reading.

  153. FB @

    This is an interesting post. I did well in HS, but not fabulous in college, although I attained the bare minimum to get a honours business degree.

    In the end, it was more luck and natural gravitation towards a certain industry that everyone avoided that started me at $65k. From then, it was just more luck that it happened to be a great industry to stay in if you were able to understand what was being done (which some people can’t grasp because it’s too conceptual).

    I can’t really attribute it to desire, ambition or working super hard that got me where I was.

    It’s a lot of luck — being born in the right year, graduating in the right cohort, getting that lucky job out of college and making smart risks to quit and go as a freelancer.

    It’s not just working hard, although that was a part of it. I was trying to make the best of every opportunity that came by, and I think a lot of people ignore those opportunities because they’re scared of change or unwilling to open their mind and take on another job that might not seem so interesting or great, but ends up being your dream career.

    I should note that in every industry you’ve mentioned there are different careers within each and different disciplines. Not every discipline pays as well as others, because they’re more difficult, more technical/math oriented, etc.

    To make 6 figures, it’s so cliche, but you have to do what you love and your passion will naturally exude into your job and make you a high performer who fits perfectly into the job without trying as hard as others who can’t seem to get it.

    Have to play to your strengths.

    Last funny anecdote: I knew a woman who liked to clean/organize her home. She ended up scoring this very strange job of cleaning stores at the end of the day (overnight) and shining the floors with a machine. She makes over 6-figures now, doing what she enjoys doing (cleaning) and making a good living from it.

    Those are good general industries up there, but don’t forget about the mundane, boring, dirty jobs where you don’t go to work in a suit. :)

    1. I think we create our own luck. I have the phrase, “The harder I work, the luckier I get” at work. I believe in this entirely.

      Yes, some are luckier than others, but few are so unlucky as to not believe.

  154. I get the feeling it is actually easier than we think to make a salary up to $200,000 a year because so many people in this country are basically LAZY and feel they are entitled to a certain standard of living with little effort on their part. Not saying everyone is, so don’t take me wrong. I’m guilty of it myself at certain times in my life. Therefore, the folks who strive to achieve the principles that you’ve outlined in your article are way ahead of the pack, just by making an effort. As the saying goes…The cream rises to the top.

  155. Kevin@InvestItWisely

    Median income is much lower where I live, but so are housing costs. Gasoline and taxes are higher, though. I would say the $100,000 equivalent over here is probably $60,000 to $70,000 since much less income needs to be devoted to housing, which is the biggest expense. Is it possible if you work hard? Yes, I believe that it is.

    I was one of those students that did crap in HS, but eventually went on to get 3.7 and honors at the Uni level. I am not a super-whiz student for sure, and if I had tried harder I probably could have done better, but it is possible to turn things around!

    I also like the point about optimism. I naturally have black thoughts all the time, so to counter that, I force myself to see the more optimistic path. I think it’s one thing that has helped out over the years.

  156. Roger, the Amateur Financier

    “Do you believe it’s easy or hard to make over $100,000 per person? If you believe it is easy to make $100,000 a year, why don’t more people do it than the stated ~5% of the American population?”

    I think it can be hard, although not as hard as it’s sometimes made out to be. If you do well in school, go into a field where you can earn six figures shortly after graduating, do well in said field, there’s few reasons why someone who’s smart, hard-working, interested in working in a high income field, and determined to make a six figure salary can’t do so. That said, how many people do you know who meet all of those traits?

    “Do you think a large reason why people don’t make over $100,000 is simply due to lack of desire and being happy with what they are already making?”

    Perhaps; I think a larger reason for why there are so few $100,000 earners is due to relatively difficulty in getting a job that pays that much (or creating income source(s) to generate that level of income) as compared to a less than $100,000 a year position. I also think there’s more than a few people who happen to gravitate toward professions that don’t pay such high salaries; if you are a kindergarten teacher, and get a lot of personal satisfaction out of your job, you might have no desire to go back to school to become, say, a venture capitalist. The fact of the matter is that not every profession we as a society need pays more than $100,000 a year; which is probably good, because if they did, prices would adjust to the point that you’d need to earn $1,000,000 a year just to be upper middle class.

    ‘What’s your excuse?’

    First, I’m still going to school, so haven’t started earning at my full potential yet. Second, I’m hoping to (at least eventually) have a job as college professor, so my work income will be roughly $65,000 (as you’ve mentioned in past posts), and so I’ll need to build alternative income sources to close the gap. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

    1. Here’s the thing though. A person who doesn’t have an interest in making money shouldn’t have to worry about not making much money. If you find a fulfilling job that pays $30,000 a year, that’s all that matters!

      I’m getting a strong feeling the reason is b/c people are satisfied with what they have, which is awesome!

  157. I’d be interested to see a study comparing GPA vs wages out of school. I find in engineering that personality is equally as important a factor as grades.

    It’s one thing to be able to do the analysis, its another thing entirely to explain that same analysis to a client in terms they can understand.

    1. So many classmates in business school were engineers, b/c they were topping out at $150-200,000 while their management/sales counterparts regularly breached $250,000. Communication is important for sure!

    2. So many classmates in business school were engineers, b/c they were topping out at $150-200,000 while their management/sales counterparts regularly breached $250,000. Communication is important for sure!

  158. Gordie, welcome back! Sorry mate, I’ve never heard of Trump U. Is that The Donald’s U? Might be good, but why not stick with the best? Int’l b schools like INSEAD, LSE, IMB are great too.

  159. You make an excellent point Forest! To be a kid again. When we are young, we aspire to do and be something. Where does all that aspiration go? It goes out the window when kids mess around too much in school and have little options upon graduation.

    For those who want to make more money, I’m just saying you can. There’s a bagillion dollars out for the taking!

  160. Everyday Tips

    Wax on, wax off… (That is all I remember from Mr. Miyagi…)

    The one field that always seems to keep people employed (besides medical) is Accounting, so you are definitely right about that!

    I would love to make 100k, but so far, nobody has come up with that kind of cash for me to blog and take care of my kids. However, when I was working in IT, I did ok. However, layoffs were rampant as the push to use ‘off shore’ resources was huge from corporate. So in many cases, I am not sure IT is the fantastic career it once was. I am sure it is different if you work at Google and such, but for people starting their careers in programming, the competition is stiff not only between American workers, but with those abroad also.

    I think part of it is personality, as you mentioned. You have to be able to tolerate the good and the bad. Many people want the perfect job and are unhappy quite easily. If you have a good attitude and are willing to do just about anything, I think you will find success much easier than the guy that grumbles in his cube.

    1. I hear you on IT, which is why I didn’t include IT. 15-20 years ago yes, but not now with so much outsourcing.

      Good attitude is so key, I can’t emphasize that enough! Nobody wants to work with or for a grouch who complains all the time!

      1. The kind of IT jobs that are being outsourced are generally lower skilled programming jobs.
        These aren’t the kind of jobs that would have been paying >$100k anyway.
        Actually the opposite seems to be true: many firms are having a hard time finding
        talented individuals with the right skills. This is especially true for startups looking
        for people with skills in mobile development. It’s not unheard of for a mobile deveoloper
        fresh out of college to start at $85000 with a 15% bonus.

        I graduated with a computer science degree 3 years ago and can attest to the fact
        that the risk of offshoring was overstated. I had many job interview, even though
        I was job hunting at the height of the recession and my GPA was very mediocre.
        I ended up taking a job in the consulting/defense contracting space with a starting
        salary of $60000. I have just recently gotten an offer from a competing firm with
        the result that I will have nearly doubled my salary in less than 3 years.

  161. Little House

    I’m looking forward to supplementing my income as a teacher by writing children’s books. So, for some professions that will never reach that goal of $200K or even $100 for that matter, there’s always ways to supplement it!

    1. I think that’s a great initiative! I heard it’s highly competitive, but what good thing isn’t? I’m sure the Yakezie Network can help you promote your first book!

      1. Little House

        Even kids books? I have a particular publisher in mind. It’s the publisher of a new and popular math series that our district (and other districts) use. Any suggestions? I’m not a very strong sales person.

        1. The kids books side is ULTRA competitive. Trust me on this. I know many women who have tried and failed. This is why it’s partially a great reason to join the Yakezie Product Review Team. After a year of building relationships with agents, publishers, authors… guess what? If you want to write your own book review and make some pitches, you’ve got the automatic in already! Help them, and they will eventually come around and help you.

  162. Great article as usual.

    I did the straight A’s in high school and pick a profession that’d pay the bills that I’d incur getting the education.

    There are also plenty of unskilled tradesman making great money. Plumbers, electricians, contractors. My electrician gets $50/hr and it you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to do those jobs.

    1. Preferable a trade that cannot be outsourced is a big plus. I often wish I had chosen plumbing over the machinist trade!

  163. Kevin @

    If you aren’t smart enough to get into a top school, then you aren’t smart enough. Period. At some point, you can’t just throw more effort at academics to be better. People have natural limits. So I don’t believe “anyone can get an education at a top university if you try hard enough” is true at all. That would be like saying “anyone can play quarterback in the NFL if he tries hard enough.”

    For those who are not able to get that top education, they can make six figures, but not “at any age” like the title claims. They have to stay at their jobs for many years before they’ve been there long enough to make that kind of money.

    1. It’s a good excuse you make not being smart enough (getting into great schools isn’t just academics), however I just listed 24 companies above you can apply to which will make you six figures, and 15 business schools to apply to as well. And if you can’t get into any of them, there are hundreds of other companies in those fields which pay just as well. And if you can’t get into any of those hundreds of companies, check out this whole section for you:


      There are plenty of different avenues you can take to breach that magical six figure mark. Doctors and lawyers routinely make multiple six figures. Longshoremen (dockworker) average $120,000 a year as we discovered during the Oakland longshoremen strike in 2001. After 20 years at the Federal government, police force, and fire department, the majority of workers all make $100,000+. Not only that, their capitalized pensions are worth millions!

      Marrying for money always works. Furthermore, you can start your own business or work two jobs. Making an online income seems particularly trendy nowadays. Join the federal government and rake it in after a while too! Nothing is stopping you from breaching the magical $100,000 a year mark except for your own desire, effort, knowledge, personality, and optimism.”

      1. Kevin @

        Your other options are exactly my point. Sure you can make $100k. It’s the “at any age” part that I’m disagreeing with.

    2. I support Sam on this topic. Yes you CAN at any age. I did. $100K fresh out of college and 4 years later I make more than double that in Finance. I didn’t go to a top school. I did get a high GPA, but not in a major that anyone cares about (English). I’m not particularly brilliant or talented. I had no connections. I did not do any networking. I don’t work at a BB either. But I am