When it comes right down to it, we as a society are pretty narcissistic. We love to show off and tell our friends and family of our successes and how well we’re doing.
Don’t misunderstand us though, this is a good thing for the most part. However, sometimes people use phrases like they’re working and earning a six-figure salary or some other figure salary jobs that they’re in to rake in the dollars.
This sort of boasting can get really annoying, particularly if you’re on an average salary, and you don’t want to hear about someone else’s annual income!
We all know that if you’re earning the big bucks like seven-figure salaries, the chances are you’re in a good job with great career prospects – like investment bankers, right?
Well, not necessarily. But we’ll get to all that.
This guide looks to answer all of your burning questions that surround 5,6 and 7-figure salaries. We’ll look at what they are, who might earn them and what they might mean for you.
So, strap in and sit tight – we’ve got this!
Table of Contents
What Do We Mean By “Figure”?
A figure refers to a digit or a number. It can be anything from $1. Cents do not classify as a figure as they are not a whole number, they’re part of a dollar. For example, 50 cents is half a dollar.
The more figures you place onto a salary, the more “figured” your salary is.
What Exactly Does A Five-Figure Salary Refer To?
To put it simply with it all, five-figure salaries are salaries which contain five numbers in it before tax is deducted.
So, five digits have to be in the salary number before tax. An example for you is any figure from $10,000 to $99,999. Even if tax changes these figures, you can still say you’re earning a five-figure salary.
This is generally the salary bracket that Americans will fall into. In fact, if we take a look at the median household income or earnings for the United States prior to recent events, we can look at 2019’s figure of $68,702.
Typically, we break this bracket up into three sections. We have the low side of the five-figure salary, the medium side, and we have the high side of the five-figure salary.
If your annual income is less than $40,000, then the Federal Government refers to this as being under the poverty line.
If you’re above $40,000 you are earning slightly more than the poverty line. However, this shouldn’t be taken as a cemented statement of being poor, because this is only using a guideline and does not take any extra money or extra earnings into account.
When it comes to jobs in the section of $10,000 to $40,000 – generally these are minimum wage jobs and may not require a college degree or much experience.
Moving up in the ranks, we can look at the medium side of this category. This is a figure income of between $40,000 and $70,000. This area of earnings is relatively comfortable, as the person is typically not poor but not rich either.
Jobs in this category are things like a high school teacher or people working in the hospitality industry with a nice level of consistent tips. People in this bracket might require a college degree to get work but not for all of them.
The top end of this bracket is anything between $70,000 and $99,999 per year and jobs will likely require a college degree before you start seeing this level of income.
Professionals within this section might begin on a salary like this and then move up in the salary ranks as they progress.
Having a five-figure salary can mean a lot of things, but as you can see – there is a great deal of difference between a 10k salary and nearly a 100k salary.
If someone is on the lowest end of the scale, they will certainly be living from paycheck to paycheck and may also require extra income assistance.
More often than not, people in these pay brackets will take on a second job for further income. However, this will be dependent on where you live anyway as the prices of housing, food and energy differ wildly from state to state.
It will also depend on your circumstances. If you’re married for example and your spouse is bringing home a higher salary, your salary might cover things like your monthly bills and theirs might cover a mortgage payment or the other more expensive things that you need.
People earning between the mid and high-end bracket of the five-figure salaries can live just comfortably enough to get by. They might not necessarily need a second income to get by and might live on their own as a result.
The jobs in these areas might have some scope for promotion too and that is something to always bear in mind. With the lower scale, they’re typically dead-end jobs and will have very little chance of someone moving up and getting a higher pay.
Whereas, the jobs that might require college degrees or specific qualifications will pay more and will likely have scale for promotion, movement and professional development.
What Are Some Five-Figure Salary Jobs?
These can differ from state to state and of course by payment scale, but you can typically see the following jobs in this bracket:
- Sales agent
- Waitering (hospitality work + tips)
- School teachers
- Entry nurse
What About A Six-Figure Salary?
Now that we’re aware of what it means to have a five-figure salary, we can now take a look at what it means to have a six-figure salary.
In essence, it’s just the same meaning as before but adding one extra digit. So, this is any salary that earns between $100,000 to $999,999.
Six-figure salary jobs are not very common with around 5-10% of Americans being classed as earning this amount of money per year.
You can expect that people within this payment bracket live pretty comfortably, but sometimes it’s easy to live outside your means – so even though someone is earning this level of income, it does not mean they are rich in any way.
This section of salary is not normally split into low, mid and high due to the amount of money that they’re earning, however taxation will be higher due to their earnings – so be aware of this too.
Jobs in this bracket will cover careers like medicine and IT. As you can probably imagine, there are a plethora of jobs in these sections, so we’ll let you use your imagination as to what they are.
This level of income is usually deserved with people requiring at least a bachelor’s degree to get started and then some jobs, particularly medicine, will also require a master’s degree and even up to a PhD.
This is something else that needs to be addressed. People that learn enough to earn enough are far more likely to be in student debts and will need to pay off a substantial amount of their earnings each month to try to clear this in an adequate time-frame.
This does not mean everybody though. There are many people who were financed through college through a job, sponsor or scholarship, but the majority of people will have required some sort of student loan.
What About A 7-Figure Salary?
Again, the same logic applies to what the figures mean. It’s just a case of adding another digit. However, people in this income bracket can be called millionaires.
This is because they’re earning anything from $1,000,000 to $9,999,999. Of course, there will be a wide range of people that earn this sort of money and the careers in this section can be incredibly varied.
This can be someone who earns money from sport, from social media, from stocks and business, from entertainment and so on.
To get to this pay scale, you don’t necessarily have to have qualifications, but it certainly helps. What we mean here is that a lot of people who earn money from business will likely have qualifications in business, but this isn’t always the case.
When it comes to sport, a college degree might not be needed as someone can be drafted for certain sports before they have graduated or even avoided college altogether.
The same applies for movie stars, TV stars and social media influencers. With smart moves in certain fields, people can earn millions, but it usually comes down to determination, some skill and a lot of luck in many respects.
If you take Justin Bieber for example, he was discovered on YouTube by Usher and nowadays earns millions through his own music. He was a young teenager when he was initially discovered and did not go through the education system to earn.
Instead, he incorporated skill in singing, determination to be seen by using YouTube and a massive element of luck meant he was discovered by an already established music star.
What About 8 And 9-Figure Income?
Seven-figure incomes are indeed massive, but when we start to look at 8 and 9, these are almost unthinkable and unimaginable sums of money.
People in these pay brackets earn 10 million dollars a year to a billion dollars a year. Typically, people who earn these figures are normally very astute in business. People like Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos can fall into these categories.
These people earned their fortunes from starting at the bottom and working up but they both had a lot of smarts when it came to business decisions and progression in their fields.
Anyone in these pay scales live so comfortably and normally have all the best things in the world. The best food, the best cars, the best houses, the best clothes and some even purchase entire islands with private jets and employ a number of servants and assistance.
Before the world of business took off the way it did, this style of living was reserved for royalty and was completely unheard of for anybody else to be able to compete financially with this sort of lifestyle.
People who are astute in the stock market can also earn such massive figures and even movie and music stars can earn these figures.
Music star Dr Dre became the world’s first hip-hop billionaire by starting a business venture. Although he was in the 7 figure pay bracket prior to this, his business decisions made him move into this category.
He struck a deal with Apple to purchase the rights to his unique headphones known as Beats, which were incredibly popular throughout the world, and they received simple plugs through music label stars wearing them and sports stars wearing them in the Olympics and World Cups.
Do The Amount Of Figures In A Salary Actually Matter?
It depends on how you look at it. We’d argue that it does not matter for your own worth in society as everybody is worth the same as anyone else, regardless of how much they earn. It’s more about being happy, and money does not always equate to happiness.
There have been many stories of people who have won the lottery or won game shows and became pretty well off, but they have then stated that their new-found wealth has “ruined” their lives. For some of us, this might seem like an alien concept, but it does make sense.
The more money you have, the more responsibility you might have. You might be bank-rolling staff and mean the difference between someone living or dying.
Often, wealthy people feel a great sense of guilt if they see poor people or the homeless who struggle simply to get their next meal, and this can have a serious detrimental effect on their mental health.
Additionally, there is an expectation, perhaps unspoken, that the more money you have – the better you should live, but some people do not like glamorous lifestyles and would prefer to live as they want to.
Moreover, if you’re on these huge figure salaries, the pressure of maintaining these annual streams of income can be unbearable.
Every day, you have to ensure you’re not going to be fired, your business isn’t going to collapse, the stock market does not crash, or your craft is going to continue.
Sports stars have to worry about their conditioning and if they’re going to get injured. Movie stars have to worry about reviews and their own performances, and likely their looks. Musicians have to worry about whether their music is any good or keeping in with their right audiences.
The point is, the more money you have does not mean you don’t have worries or pressures and sometimes the pressure can be even greater than if you’re living with a five-figure salary.
Having said that though, the ability to live better with a far better quality of housing, food, clothing, transport and education cannot be ignored.
If someone earns enough money, and they are financially wise, they can put some money into savings accounts or other financial bonds to ensure they have a safety net.
With a better quality of life, the worries of eating and energy bills do not come into question. Even things as basic as needing a vacation due to daily stresses can be easily solved. Some earners can simply hop onto their private jet and go anywhere they wish to go at any time.
However, it is possible for people to be so ingrained in their work and finances that they neglect their home life and might have even worse situations.
People might outsource their parental duties to other workers or neglect their spouses due to commitments which can lead to an unhappy home.
Additionally, some people that earn so much might find themselves getting into drink or drugs due to stress, boredom or being in the wrong crowds. In fact, these crowds are another thing to think about because your circle of trust is compromised.
You’re constantly worrying about whether someone is genuine or if they’re after your money. These problems can certainly sink someone into addiction and this can be detrimental to their work and home life.
There’s little surprise that many stars end up in places like rehab centers. It’s a horrible thing to see, but we can certainly see how it might have happened.
How Do People Earn The Big Money?
It really depends. You can probably look at a few avenues. We’ll start with progression.
When it comes to career progression, you’d normally start at the bottom and be earning a five or six-figure salary and begin to move up. This will normally be through additional qualifications, hard work and many years of service.
This can have stress attached to it when you’re worried about not stepping out of line with your employer and wanting to move up as much as possible.
Oftentimes, people will be working in their chosen field with an employer for several years and see no progression. They may then select to jump ship to another workplace.
When this happens, they will think about things very carefully. Do they see scope for progression in this new place? Are they being offered more money to begin with?
Career progression and climbing up the ladder is something that the majority of Americans will be striving for. Once promotion has occurred, people may wish to continue climbing the ladder. They’ve got a taste for the extra bucks, and now they want more.
This is simply how it works. If you want to climb your career ladder, consider asking your superior how they got to where they are and how you might change things to mirror their success.
Talent is held by most people, but super talent for sports, TV, movies, music and alike is difficult to obtain and will require years of development. If you’re a talented basketball player for example, you will need to keep training and keep playing.
You will need to speak with people who are aware of how to break into the NBA for example, and they will tell you how to do it. With talent comes determination and the people that work for it will certainly get there.
Talent does not necessarily need super education or qualifications, but you may wish to learn more to advance your chosen career. Exhibiting your talent is key, so the use of things like social media and open tournaments, open mic events and other ways to showcase your talent is the way forward.
This section sort of incorporates the both previous points. Those who are astute business brains will almost always have to start at the bottom and work very hard to move up their own ladder.
The more you work, the more likely you are to advance your business and therefore the more likely you are to strike business deals. Typically, people who are best at business are very good with public speaking, numbers and communication.
Striking huge business deals require negotiations and smart choices, so a lot of entrepreneurs will have a college degree in things like business and economics.
Business minds will usually be good with stock options too, and this is another way these types of people can earn the massive salaries.
Knowing where to look and what to do is critical here, but being good with social situations and communication will always be key, regardless of what business practice you try.
Luck also plays a huge role in people’s success. This can be part of all the previous points. Career progression is fine, but having the luck that the promotion comes around is important to begin with.
When it comes to talent, as we mentioned Justin Bieber, there’s usually a large element of luck to break through into a very tough industry.
With business, luck can also play a huge role. The luck of a global situation booming the stock market, the luck of being in the right place at the right time too.
And perhaps the most known wealth creation via luck is the lottery or other instant millionaire makers. Even though these aren’t salaries, having the money to begin with can bring about brand-new opportunities to make more money which can lead to 6,7 and 8-figure salaries.
Knowledge And Contacts
Although academics don’t normally earn the massive bucks, they can typically earn more money by doing interviews or assisting with projects that sometimes are bank-rolled by huge corporations like Coca-Cola for example.
However, knowledge can make you money. People like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg earned millions from an idea which did not begin as a business, but took off as one. Simply by having their smarts, they earn some of the largest sums of money that we can imagine.
When it comes to contacts, sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. If you’ve got contacts in an industry with big figure salaries, you might be able to get into a role that you might have thought was beyond your capabilities.
If you have great talent, sometimes having smart contacts can earn you the big dollars because your contacts might know who to show your talents off to.
If you have both knowledge and contacts, you’re easily set to earn yourself the high salaries. You just need to get out there and take them for yourself!
Although nepotism is often looked down on, inheriting a high position in a company or a particular industry can set you off on your way to earning very large sums of money.
Now, it does not even mean your family can pass this down. As in the previous point, you can have a contact or friend that might let you step in for them when they move away from their position.
Just be aware that you know what you’re doing when you get into the new role!
Our Final Thoughts
High-figure salaries are an amazing thing to have and something you should definitely think about striving for, but remember that it doesn’t always mean a perfect life.
Generally, to get there – you’ve got to work for it and then maintain it. If that’s something you want to do, we wish you good luck!