What Is the Average Salary by Age in the U.S.?
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Average salary for ages 55-64 $1,134/week
Average salary for ages 35-44 $1,155/week
Average salary for ages 20-24 $684/week
If you're entering the job market for the first time, you may want to study the average salary by age in the United States. Individuals tend to earn higher salaries as they get older, and you can notice a decline once individuals approach a certain age. Learning about salary information by age can help you understand how much you may earn over the next few decades of your career or let you discover how your current salary aligns with others in your age group.
In this article, we provide information on typical salaries by age and offer tips for maximizing your salary.
Average salary vs. median salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary rather than the average salary. The average salary accounts for the lowest and highest salaries, which can skew the data and provide inaccurate reflections of salary data by age group. The median salary is the salary figure that's right in the middle, so it provides a more accurate representation of typical income levels.
Income vs. salary
Salary is the fixed amount of money that you earn from an employer over a given period. Income is the amount of money that you earn from any source. For example, your income may consist of earnings you get from investments, interest payments and rent payments. The data that the BLS provides more closely reflects salary amounts.
Weekly, monthly and annual median salary by age
Explore the weekly, monthly and annual median salary by age, according to the BLS. Note that this information is for full-time wage and salary employees, and the BLS defines full-time work as at least 35 hours per week.
Median salary for ages 16–19
Median salary figures are the lowest for this age group. People in this age group are often getting their first jobs, so they may not have a lot of experience or educational credentials to qualify for higher-paying positions. They may only work during the summer, accept temporary positions or work on a part-time basis.
Median weekly earnings: $623 per week
Median monthly earnings: $2,492 per month
Median yearly earnings: $32,396 per year
Median 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 may accept entry-level positions that don't pay high starting salaries:
Median weekly earnings: $737 per week
Median monthly earnings: $2,948 per month
Median yearly earnings: $35,376 per year
Median salary for ages 25–34
As people enter this age bracket, they accept full-time positions, have more work experience and may begin to receive raises and performance-based bonuses that are percentages of their base salaries. People can usually notice a significant increase in pay during these years.
Median weekly earnings: $1,016 per week
Median monthly earnings: $4,064 per month
Median yearly earnings: $48,768 per year
Median salary for ages 35–44
As people mature in their careers, they may decide to take on management roles, change careers, or continue advancing within their field. Earning potential continues to increase during these years.
Median weekly earnings: $1,204 per week
Median monthly earnings: $4,816 per month
Median yearly earnings: $57,792 per year
Median salary for ages 45–54
Between ages 45 and 54, people tend to reach their earning peak. While some begin entering retirement, others continue to advance into top-level positions with years of experience to support them.
Median weekly earnings: $1,200 per week
Median monthly earnings: $4,800 per month
Median yearly earnings: $57,600 per year
Median salary for ages 55–64
As more people begin to enter retirement, you can notice a decline in the median salary for this age group.
Median weekly earnings: $1,177 per week
Median monthly earnings: $4,708 per month
Median yearly earnings: $56,496 per year
Median salary for ages 65 and older
As some people in this age range retire, others are working in high-level positions. Some people may re-enter the workforce after initially retiring to continue earning wages.
Median weekly earnings: $1,047 per week
Median monthly earnings: $4,188 per month
Median yearly earnings: $50,256 per year
Note that figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) help supplement data from Indeed.
Why does my salary vary from the national average by age?
Just because you're a certain age doesn't mean that your salary aligns with the figure that the BLS reports for your age bracket. Review a variety of factors that may play a significant role in the difference between your salary and the average salary in the U.S. that the BLS publishes for your age group:
Depending on your role, your level of education can be a major factor in how much you earn. For example, if you have some type of college degree, you may qualify for a higher salary than someone in the same position with less education. Also, individuals with different types of college degrees can earn varying amounts. For example, employees with a professional degree earn an average of 52% more per week than employees with a bachelor's degree, according to BLS data.
Level of experience
Individuals in a higher age bracket may earn more than their younger counterparts because they have more professional experience. As you gain more work experience, you can acquire more skills and knowledge that an employer can use to justify a higher salary.
Local cost of labor
Employers pay salaries depending on the local market for a particular skill set. They account for how much it costs to hire an individual with the skill set and experience necessary to fill an open position.
If you have a skill set 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 can affect some positions, which means you may earn more during certain times of the year than others. The statistics from the BLS don't account for seasonality, which means they might fluctuate over the course of the year.
Tips for maximizing your salary
Review these tips for maximizing your earning potential, regardless of your age:
Negotiate your salary with every job offer
When you receive a job offer, negotiate with the hiring manager. Aim for a higher figure than you expect. Practice being firm and advocating for yourself. Establish the lowest possible amount for which you're willing to settle before you begin your negotiations.
Ask for a raise
If you've been with the same employer for a while, you may consider asking for a raise. When you present the reasons that you deserve a higher salary, like your high level of productivity, your manager may approve your raise so they can keep you on the team. You can also consider your unique knowledge or any significant impacts that you have on your team when you're asking for a raise.
Learn a new skill
Think about your position and what skills might be helpful for you to develop. For example, if you're a programmer, you may consider learning an additional programming language so you can expand the kind of work you're capable of completing.
Consider pursuing a more senior role
Instead of moving laterally between different roles, you may consider pursuing a more senior position. While a senior position comes with additional responsibilities, you may be able to earn a higher starting salary and qualify for bonuses.
If your employer doesn't provide a title change for increasing responsibilities, you can still seek out new opportunities to expand your impact within the organization. Extend your opportunities laterally to gain relevant experience, which you can eventually use to experience more upward mobility.
If you don't see growth opportunities at your current place of employment, you may consider switching companies. If you started a job when the market price for your position was low and you haven't received a raise, you may switch companies to increase your salary. Consider your total compensation before switching to optimize your earning potential. Calculate the sum of all your earnings, including your base pay, bonuses, benefits and discounts to ensure a transition can be truly beneficial.
Study reviews by former employees of the companies where you want to work. Determine if the hiring organizations that interest you offer higher starting salaries than you've received at former employers, and perform research to see if these hiring organizations offer opportunities for salary growth in the long term.
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