Reviewing the national average income by age can be helpful for many reasons. You may be entering the job market for the first time and want to get an idea of how much you can expect to be making over the next few decades of your career, or you might be curious how your current salary stacks up against others in your age group.
To help you get the information you need, here is a breakdown of the average salary of full-time wage and salary workers by age group as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Keep in mind that many factors affect your salary, including your education, level of experience, the cost of living in your area, your skillset and the seasonality of your job.
Weekly, monthly and annual average salary by age
Here is the breakdown of average income by age group:
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The average salary for ages 16–19
Because people in their teen years are often getting their first jobs, these are typically positions that don’t require a degree or much experience.
The average salary for ages 20–24
While some people are beginning to earn more with experience in industries like service or construction, others continue to enter the workforce for the first time. Because some people are in college during these years, they are typically working fewer hours in a job to have time for their studies.
The average salary for ages 25–34
As people reach the 25–34 age bracket, they have more work experience and potentially begin to receive raises and promotions. So, on average, there is a significant increase in pay during these years.
The average salary for ages 35–44
As people mature in their careers, they may decide to take on management roles, change careers, step away or continue advancing. Earning potential continues to increase during these years.
The average salary for ages 45–54
Between ages 45 and 54, people tend to reach their earning peak. While some begin entering into retirement, others continue to advance into top-level positions with years of experience to support them.
The average salary for ages 55–64
There is a decline in average salary during these years as more people begin entering retirement.
The average salary for ages 65 and older
As more people retire, still others are working in high-level positions and others may re-enter the workforce to continue earning wages.
Related: Interview Question: “What Are Your Salary Expectations?”
Why does my salary vary from the national average?
Your salary may vary from the average salary in the US as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for several reasons, including the following:
- Education. Depending on your role, the level of education you’ve completed can have a significant impact on the salary you earn. For example, if you have a master’s or professional degree, you will likely make a higher salary than someone in the same position who has an undergraduate degree. In fact, those with a professional degree earn an average of 52% more per week than those with a bachelor’s degree, according to BLS data.
- Level of experience. The longer you’ve worked in an industry or job role, the more knowledge and experience you develop and the higher your earning potential.
- Local cost of living. Some geographical regions are more expensive to live in than others, and salaries in these areas are usually higher than average to help employees cover costs for things like rent, real estate and other basic living necessities.
- Skillset. If you have a skillset that’s in high-demand, or you’ve acquired new skills through experience, education or a certification program, this may give you a higher salary than the average salary for your age group.
- Seasonality. Some positions are affected by seasonality, which means you may earn more during certain times of the year than others. The statistics from the BLS are not adjusted for seasonality, which means they might fluctuate over the course of the year.
Related: Guide: How to Ask for a Raise
Knowing the average salary by age group is useful for assessing how much you can expect your salary to grow over the course of your career. For example, based on this data, young adults in the 20 to 24 age group could expect a salary increase of more than 71% by the time they reach the 34 to 44 age group.
If you’re looking to increase your salary sooner, you may want to consider earning a higher degree, acquiring more in-demand skills or volunteering to take on work that may grow your experience or industry knowledge. Doing these things today will help increase your earning potential in the near future as well as over the course of your career.