How much is 6 figures, and is it actually enough for a worry-free life in the United States?
This appears to be a hot question among American readers. Today, our goal is to introduce you to the topic of six-figure income and address some misconceptions about it. Along the way, we’ll also give you a few tips on breaking that 6-figure mark.
How Much Is 6 Figures?
To understand what 6-figure income is, we have to refresh basic mathematics.
The “figures”, quite simply, refers to the number of digits in a salary. So six figures denotes annual salaries that have 6 numbers – from $100,000 to $999,999.
Here, note that we are only talking about whole numbers (i.e. integers). For example, although $9,999.99 has six figures in it, it is not considered a six-figure income. Instead, it is a 4-figure income.
In other words, when talking about figures, we only count dollars, while cents are left out of the equation.
By the way, six-figure salaries are also sometimes denoted with k, e.g. $100k, $500k, and so on. The k here denotes the kilo prefix used in the International System of Units. In Greek, kilo means thousand. So $500k is the same as $500,000.
Is 6 figures much?
Did you know that only 9% of Americans (as of September 2019) earn over $100k annually?
6-figure income is a goal and a dream for many Americans. This is perhaps because it is relatively easily achievable, as well as because it allows you to put food on the table without worrying about tomorrow.
With that said, 6 figures is a very broad term, and whether a 6-figure income is a lot depends on what kind of income we are talking about.
Earlier, we’ve mentioned that 6 figures is any salary from $100,000 to $999,999. Needless to say, $100,000 annually is very different from $999,999 or even $300,000. Although $100,000 is technically a six-figure salary, it is not a great income everywhere.
For some perspective, you DO NOT WANT to be earning just $100,000 in the following cities (as of May 2019):
- San Francisco, California (-$2,734 annual income leftover after federal & state income tax, rent, groceries, utilities, healthcare, and driving costs).
- San Jose, California ($1,800 income leftover).
- Oakland, California ($8,448 income leftover).
- Los Angeles, California ($9,689 income leftover).
- San Diego, California ($13,077 income leftover).
- Washington, District of Columbia ($13,904 income leftover).
- Long Beach, California ($15,663 income leftover).
- Boston, Massachusetts ($17,311 income leftover).
- Seattle, Washington ($22,019 income leftover).
- Portland, Oregon ($22,747 income leftover).
In contrast, here are the 10 best cities for those earning $100,000 annually:
- Memphis, Tennessee ($46,093 income leftover).
- El Paso, Texas ($44,185 income leftover).
- Detroit, Michigan ($41,549 income leftover).
- Cleveland, Ohio ($41,537 income leftover).
- Tulsa, Oklahoma ($39,410 income leftover).
- San Antonio, Texas ($39,350 income leftover).
- Jacksonville, Florida ($39,233 income leftover).
- Louisville, Kentucky ($39,184 income leftover).
- Houston, Texas ($39,060 income leftover).
- Las Vegas, Nevada ($38,920 income leftover).
The biggest reason for such a discrepancy between the annual income leftover is rent. So depending on where you live, $100,000 could either be awesome or barely enough for living. And if you paid attention, most of the worst cities to live in with a $100k salary are in California!
All in all, anything over $150-$200k should be very solid no matter where you are. We aren’t even talking about the higher end of 6 figures!
Is 6 figures much around the world?
Although we are talking about the US, we feel that we should also cover other countries. In the US, $100,000 is fairly decent depending on where you are. However, there are countries around the world where $100k is a standard thing or, on the contrary, more than people could ever dream to earn in a lifetime.
Here’s what the average annual income was as of August 2019 in some countries (from poorest to wealthiest):
- Madagascar: just $440.
- India: $2,020.
- Brazil: $9,140.
- Mexico: $9,180.
- China: $9,470.
- Russia: $10,230.
- Spain: $29,450.
- Italy: $33,560.
- Israel: $40,850.
- The United Kingdom: $41,330.
- The United States: $62,850.
- Switzerland: $83,580.
- Bermuda: $106,140.
- Monaco: $186,080.
Salaries around the world appear to mainly reflect the local economic development and cost of living. With that, in post-Soviet, Asian, and African countries, the picture is very unfortunate for locals, and $100k annually would be astronomical for them.
Which jobs earn you 6 figures?
Now, which jobs earn you 6 figures in the United States? Well, here are a few (as of January 2019, median):
- Anesthesiologist: $265,990.
- Surgeon: $251,890.
- Oral and maxillofacial surgeon: $242,740.
- Obstetrician and gynecologist: $235,240.
- Orthodontist: $229,380.
- Psychiatrist: $216,090.
- Physician: $198,370.
- Prosthodontist: $196,960.
- Pediatrician: $187,540.
- Dentist: $174,110.
This isn’t the full list – there are 15 more jobs listed in the referenced article, the lowest of which earns $111,680. Mostly, these are healthcare-related jobs, although there also are lawyers ($141,890), sales managers ($137,650), and financial advisors ($124,140).
Developers also have high salaries in the US. As of February 2020, they were as follows:
- Engineering manager: $152k.
- Engineer (site reliability): $140k.
- Data scientist or machine learning specialist: $125k.
- DevOps specialist: $125k.
- Data engineer: $125k.
Among developers, the lowest median annual salary is $100k. This is how much academic researchers, data or business analysts, and designers earn.
How to earn 6 figures?
6 figures appears to be quite a sweet salary in the United States, especially if you can build your way up to its upper limit of $999,999. However, how can you actually start earning 6 figures annually?
Well, there are two ways:
- You become a specialist in some high-demand niche.
- You do a lot of side jobs and other small things.
Both ways are probably fine for most people. But unfortunately, if you don’t have a medical degree, you won’t be earning the top salaries in America.
However, if we are talking about software development, you can fairly easily start it. There are plenty of online courses out there (Coursera is a good platform to have a look at) for education and practice. Machine learning and data science appear to be booming right now too, although they are relatively difficult to get into because they are very math-heavy.
If you already have a job and aren’t planning to switch careers, then you could do:
- Running your own business.
- Streaming on YouTube.
If you have a 9-5 job, then you probably have a lot of free time in the evenings and weekends. Well, you could dedicate this time to side jobs. Maybe you could work for Lyft or Uber as a taxi driver, or you could try yourself as a content writer on Upwork.
If you do a lot of small things, it’s fairly easy to reach and far exceed $100k annually. Even if none of your jobs earn you six figures annually alone, all together, they could easily land you way more than you could earn on your primary job.
Needless to say, whether you decide to switch careers or do side gigs, you will not start earning six figures overnight. Unless you already have considerable experience, you will have to start from the very bottom. But with dedication, you should not have any issues with breaking the $100k/year mark.
How Much Is 5 Figures?
You hopefully already understand what “figures” means. Following the logic we explained above, a 5-figure salary would be a salary from $10,000 to $99,999.
The vast majority of Americans earn 5-figure salaries, and they are the norm in most European countries too. In the US, the median annual income as of July 2019 was $47,216.
5 figures is fairly decent in the US, but in most areas, it’s probably barely enough to make ends meet. Though again, this depends on where you live and how much your 5-figure salary actually is.
All in all, the closer you are to the $100k mark, the better. Well, as long as you are not in California or other expensive states where you need to earn way more than $100k to break even.
How Much Is 7 Figures?
7 figures is any salary between $1,000,000 and $9,999,999. Probably not even 0.1% of Americans earn 7 figures annually. And to be fair, to live well, you don’t even need to.
Nonetheless, here are the jobs that could potentially earn you 7 figures:
- Business executives like CEOs, CFOs, of COOs.
- TV or radio show hosts.
- Investment bankers.
- Real estate developers.
Whether or not you will earn seven figures with these jobs depends on the company and your level. If you are one-of-a-kind in your field, then you can make 7 figures, and even way more if you market yourself right.
How Much Is 8 Figures?
Following our logic from earlier, 8 figures are salaries between $10,000,000 and $99,999,999.
This is what the most successful actors earn. For example, here are the earnings of the world’s highest-paid actors and actresses in 2019:
- Dwayne Johnson ($89.4 million).
- Chris Hemsworth ($76.4 million).
- Robert Downey Jr ($66 million).
- Akshay Kumar ($65 million).
- Jackie Chan ($58 million).
- Bradley Cooper ($57 million).
- Adam Sandler ($57 million).
- Scarlett Johansson ($56 million).
- Sofia Vergara ($44.1 million).
- Reese Witherspoon ($35 million).
In some popular sports disciplines, athletes can earn 8 figures as well. Here are some of the athletes who earned eight figures (in 2020):
- Neymar ($95.5 million, soccer).
- LeBron James ($88.2 million, basketball).
- Stephen Curry ($74.4 million, basketball).
- Kevin Durant ($63.9 million, basketball).
- Tiger Woods ($62.3 million, golf).
How Much Is 9 Figures?
Finally, we have 9 figures, which is salaries from $100,000,000 to $999,999,999. Among 9-figure makers are a handful of athletes and the executives of the biggest companies in the world.
In 2020, there were only 3 athletes to earn 8 figures:
- Roger Federer ($106.3 million, tennis).
- Cristiano Ronaldo ($105 million, soccer).
- Lionel Messi ($104 million, soccer).
As for top executives, here’s who earned the most in 2019:
- Elon Musk ($595 million, Tesla, Inc.).
- Tim Cook ($133 million, Apple, Inc.).
- Tom Rutledge ($116 million, Charter Communications, Inc.).
- Joseph Ianniello ($116 million, ViacomCBS, Inc.).
- Sumit Singh ($108 million, Chewy, Inc.).
- Jonathan Gray ($107 million, The Blackstone Group, Inc.).
What Kind Of Yacht/Boat Can You Buy With 5/6/7/8/9 Figures?
Since this is a blog about boating, we just have to throw a word or two about yachts and boats.
There’s a lot we could talk about here, so we’ll just limit ourselves to a few fun facts:
- Yachts over 100 feet generally cost a whopping $1 million per 3.3. feet.
- Annual maintenance and operation costs for a yacht are generally 10% of the yacht’s purchase cost.
- Older yachts around 80 feet can cost you about $1-$2 million.
- An all-purpose fishing boat about 16 feet in length would probably cost you about $20k. For a 26 feet boat, expect to pay around $50 thousand.
- The 56’2” First Yacht 53 sailboat yacht from Beneteau would cost you from $690,900.
- The 62’10” Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 62 starts at $1,078,900.
- A mid-size 23’11” sailboat from Beneteau would cost you about $60k.
- A 26 feet Beneteau powerboat would cost you about $90k.
How Much is 6 Figures – Final Words
Now, you know the answer to the question “how much is 6 figures”. Aside from educational value, we have hopefully inspired you to use your time more efficiently and achieve true financial success!
Only a few of us will ever get to see more than 7-figure income. If we claimed that hard work would get you there, we’d probably be lying.
This applies to 6 figures too, but it’s fairly easily achievable if you work hard and consistently.
Now that you are done, stop asking yourself “how much is 6 figures”. Start asking how to earn 6 figures next year!