What is the Average Salary in the US?

By Chris Kolmar - Sep. 25, 2020

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After the interview phase of the job search process, one of the next steps will be to negotiate your salary expectations with your new employer. In order to be able to negotiate the best possible salary for yourself, it’s crucial to have an idea of how much you should ask for.

The average salary of workers in the United States is constantly shifting due to a variety of political, social, and economic factors. There’s also a significant amount of variation between genders, ethnicities, geographical locations, age, and education levels.

Here in the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the organization that’s primarily responsible for the collection and organization of data pertaining to income across the country. At the end of each fiscal quarter (four times each year), the BLS publishes a report which outlines median income in the US according to a variety of factors, including the five listed above. The median, simply put, is the number that falls directly in the middle of a range of numbers. Exactly half of the numbers in a given data set fall below the median, and exactly half will be above the median.

Now that we have our definitions clear, let’s move on to looking at some facts and figures.

What is the Average Salary of All Workers in the United States?

Let’s start by putting aside all of the aforementioned variations between genders, ethnicities, location, age, and education for a moment and ask ourselves: Taking the entire US population as a whole, what is the annual salary of the average American worker?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median weekly income of full-time workers in the United States was $1,002 in the second quarter of 2020 (data has not yet been released for the third quarter of 2020, which extends through the end of September). That means that the average annual salary of workers in the US was right around $52,104 in the middle of 2020 ($1,002 x 52 weeks in a year). BLS data from the 2nd quarter of 2019 shows that median income in the US has increased by roughly 9% over the course of the last year.

Salary Differences Between Men and Women in the US

The gender pay gap is a sociocultural and economic phenomenon that has been the subject of much attention and controversy in recent years. Basically, it describes the discrepancy in average salary amounts that exists between female and male workers in the United States.

According to the BLS report cited above, the median weekly income for women in the United States is $916, or $47,476 per year. Their male counterparts, on the other hand, are paid an average weekly amount of $1,087, or $56,524 per year. That’s a shocking 16% difference that currently separates the average annual income of men and women in the US.

Salary Differences According to Ethnicity

Skin color also appears to play a role in determining how much an individual can expect to earn in the United States.

In July, the BLS released these figures for weekly median salary according to ethnicity:

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  • African American: $806 (roughly $41,912 per year)

  • Hispanic: $786 (roughly $40,872 per year)

  • White: $1,018 (roughly $52,936 per year)

  • Asian: $1,336 (roughly $69,472 per year)

Of course, the gender pay gap affects these ethnicity-based discrepancies as well. As a consequence:

  • African American women earn roughly $39,271 per year (93.7% of their male counterparts)

  • Hispanic women earn roughly $34,782 per year (85.1% of their male counterparts)

  • White women earn roughly $44,096 per year (83.3% of their male counterparts)

  • Asian women earn roughly $53,562 per year (77.1% of their male counterparts)

What are the Average Salaries for Different Age Groups?

As a general rule, workers tend to earn higher salaries as they age, acquire new skills, and advance throughout the course of their careers. As a result, older professionals tend to fall into higher income brackets then their younger and more inexperienced counterparts.

That said, the relationship between age and income is not one of completely linear growth. At around the age of 40, average income tends to plateau, before slightly decreasing towards the age of 60.

It’s also important to bear in mind that there are exceptions to every rule. Some professionals become wildly successful in the early stages of their careers and begin earning six-figure salaries before they turn thirty. Others experience personal or professional hardships later in life that set them back a few rungs on the income bracket ladder. But let’s leave the outliers aside for the time being and instead focus our attention on the average salaries between age groups in 2020:

  • Average salary of 16 to 19 y.o: $506 per week, $26,312 per year

  • Average salary of 20 to 24 y.o: $640 per week, $33,280

  • Average salary of 25 to 34 y.o: $918 per week, $47,736 per year

  • Average salary of 35 to 44 y.o: $1,135 per week, $59,020 per year

  • Average salary of 45 to 54 y.o: $1,144 per week, $59,488 per year

  • Average salary of 55 to 64 y.o: $1,090 per week, $56,680 per year

  • Average salary of 65+ y.o: $1,018 per week, $52,936 per year

What are the Average Salaries in Different States?

Opportunities and industries vary from region to region, which means that there is a significant amount of variation in average income between states. People living in the coastal regions, for example – in states like California, Connecticut, and Maryland – tend to earn more, on average, than those living in landlocked areas of the country.

Here are the states with the top ten highest median household incomes in 2020:

  1. District of Columbia: $82,604

  2. Maryland: $81,868

  3. New Jersey: $79,363

  4. Hawaii: $78,084

  5. Massachusetts: $77,378

  6. Alaska: $76,715

  7. Connecticut: $76,106

  8. New Hampshire: $74,057

  9. Virginia: $71,564

  10. California: $71,228

For a comprehensive list of median household incomes across all fifty states, check out this page.

What are the Average Salaries Between Levels of Education?

As you could probably guess, there’s a positive correlation between education level and average income. In other words: The more educated you are, the more you can expect to earn.

Here are the average salaries for various education levels in 2020, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • No high school diploma: $592 per week, $30,784 per year

  • High school diploma: $746 per week, $38,792 per year

  • Some college (no degree): $833 per week, $43,316 per year

  • Associate’s degree: $887 per week, $46,124 per year

  • Bachelor’s degree: $1,248 per week, $64,896 per year

  • Master’s degree: $1,497 per week, $77,844 per year

  • Professional degree: $1,861 per week, $96,772 per year

  • Doctoral degree: $1,883 per week, $97,916 per year

  • How To Find Out the Salary Range for a Job Opportunity Before You Apply

Now that we have a broad understanding of the average income amounts across demographics in the United States, let’s now turn our attention to the more practical matter of finding out how much a job opportunity can be expected to pay. Your salary, after all, is a very important part of your career. Money isn’t everything, of course, but it should be a determining factor when you’re deciding whether or not you should take on a new job opportunity. You don’t need to be greedy, but you do need to prioritize your own financial security.

The easiest way to find out a job’s salary range, of course, is to check the original job posting. In many cases, employers and hiring managers will include this information as a means of attracting the right candidate to the role. That said, it’s also possible that the hiring manager chose to omit salary information from the job posting. In that case, you have a couple of options:

  1. Option 1: Do your own background research. There are tons of online resources out there that can provide you with a realistic estimate of how much you can expect to earn in a particular region, industry, and position.

  2. Option 2: Contact the hiring manager. You should never be afraid to approach a hiring manager if you’re interested in learning more about a role’s salary range. It’s crucial, however, to do so strategically. For example, you shouldn’t immediately direct this question to them in your application email; it’s better to wait until you’ve completed at least one interview. To learn more about how to ask an employer or hiring manager about salary expectations, check out this article.

The Bottom Line

Conducting some background research into average salary amounts in the US can give you a headstart when the time comes to negotiate your salary. Though an understanding of how much you should reasonably ask for – and how much you’re entitled to – you’ll have a much better chance of landing a maximum salary at your new job. It will also help you to make a great first impression with your new boss!

Sources:

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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