A 6 figure salary simply means earning an annual wage of at least $100,000 a year all the way up to $999,999 a year. In America, this salary range usually equates to a fairly high standard of living. Many people use these high incomes to purchase assets that generate passive income.

How much money is enough is a valid question to consider. According to this study by the NIH, above an income of $75,000 a year, there is no increase in well-being. This was done in 2008, so with inflation that number is about $100,000. Of course with the median home price rising so much recently, this probably reflects an established family income rather than one just starting out. It may take a higher median household income to save enough for a down payment on a house these days.

There are different kinds of people worldwide with different financial goals. Some people work to get what can sustain them and their families. Then there are others with the ambition to build up a sustainable economic life and a retirement future for their future generations. Either way, everyone in their lives has ambitions and craves opportunities to make a better and more comfortable life.

Many people consider a comfortable life as having a high-income source which also has varying explanations from person to person. While getting a six-figure salary may seem like a dream come true for most people, others see it as pocket change.

If you wonder what a six-figure salary is, what it can get you, and everything it entails, this article is for you.

How Much is 6 Figures?

It is common knowledge that digits represent numbers. For instance, 35 is a two-figure number because it has two digits. To have a six-figure number, you need to have six digits. A six-figure number is any number more than one hundred thousand but less than one million.

Sixfigure income means $100,000 to $999,999 per year.

In terms of money is an income, this is quite some money to most people. Although, some individuals still feel that it is pocket change. There is no definite consensus about low, mid, or high six-figure income.

What is a Six-Figure Salary?

A six-figure salary is mostly the annual salary an individual gets, and it can be anywhere from one hundred thousand dollars to nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand dollars. So if you break this down to a monthly income, the salary will be roughly $8,334 to $83,333.

Using a simple mathematics concept to explain, this is what it may mean to get a six-figure salary:

  • For low six figures: the amount can start from one hundred thousand dollars to three hundred and ninety-nine thousand dollars.
  • Mid-six figures: starts from four hundred thousand dollars to six hundred and ninety-nine thousand dollars.
  • High six-figures: starts from seven hundred thousand dollars to nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand dollars.

The argument as to how much or what six-figure is is still open. Getting a six-figure salary may seem like a milestone to many people, and others may put you in the “living the American Dream” bracket. However, it does not mean that someone is bringing home almost a million dollars. 

Please note that there is a difference between a person’s income, salary, and wage. A wage is an hourly payment for services for jobs done, and a salary is a monthly payment you get from employment. On the other hand, a person’s income is the sum of all the money they get from their paycheck. It could also be from different income streams, investment returns, or a side business.

What Do 6 Figures Get You?

Nowadays, a six-figure income has become quite popular but not common in the United States. According to an IBISWorld report, about 30.7% of Americans got a salary of more than one hundred thousand dollars in 2020. On the other hand, Statista reported the exact statistics, and it shows that only 10.3% of Americans have an annual household income of over $200,000.

According to many misconceptions, most people think that a six-figure salary equals being wealthy. On the contrary, the measure of wealth has a lot to do with how one manages, invests, and saves their funds. For some people, having a six-figure salary accompanied by good financial literacy and excellent money management skills is the dream. Backing up your six-figure salary with a savings account, investing, and budgeting could steer you towards a dream lifestyle.

A six-figure salary cannot do much with poor money management skills. With time, you might end up living from paycheck to paycheck. This is a common problem because lots of people confuse income with wealth. It is possible to be viewed as being affluent by having a six figure income, but not

A six-figure income will put you somewhere in the middle class. Towards the mid to top ranges of 6 figure income will be upper-middle class. The American middle class is shrinking. With the middle-class population going from 61% to 52% in the past 40 years.

The money may seem like a lot, but it can only get you through if you handle it well. Depending on a person’s residence location, household needs, and taxes deducted, it is pretty clear that a 6 figure salary does not get you much.

How Does 6 Figure Compare to Cost of Living in Major Cities?

The value of your income constantly compares to the cost of living. Getting a six-figure salary is not uncommon nowadays, being that there are jobs that pay the same yet do not require a degree. The importance of earning a considerable wage is slowly losing its vibe, and you can blame inflation. The cost of living has gone up together with services and goods.

In the past, around 1985, 6 figure salary held some cache. Today it looks like the starting point for home affordability. The value of your salary is highly dependent on which city in the US you stay in. In some metropolitan areas like New York City or San Francisco, life is pretty expensive, and such a salary may not be enough to sustain a comfortable life.

Living in Washington, DC, may seem like a dream come true, but it is one of America’s highest median income cities. This city’s livelihood cost is pretty high, with homeowners needing around $142,230 to sustain them. If you are not a homeowner, your income should range from approximately $122,934. With these numbers, if you are earning a low six-figure salary, then it is evident you cannot sustain a lifestyle in Washington, DC. 

It is no secret that most of America’s city dwellers are trying hard to make ends meet and thus are looking for alternative ways to make more money. But unfortunately, some of these major cities will have you stretch your budget as much as possible and still won’t find a comfortable life. 

It is vital to note that you will have to pay more taxes if your salary is high, hence cutting more into your paycheck. For instance, if you earn around $100,000, after deducting all your taxes, you may end up with only $70,000. After that, your income is no longer six figures, and keeping up with a city lifestyle may be challenging.

What Are Top 6 Figure Careers?

Today hundreds of jobs and careers can earn you a 6 figure salary whether you have a degree to back it up. You need a college degree for some of these careers. Others, you can have success without. Even if your base salary is lower than six figures, it might be possible to work overtime or get a side hustle to get you the income level you are looking for. Here are some of the top careers that can get you a six-figure yearly income.

Surgeons and Physicians

Professions in the medical field have always been lucrative, with high salaries. Many years go into medical training and practicing that finally pay off once you start working. In the US, surgeons and physicians can earn an annual pay of up to $208,000, which is about $100 per hour. Quite sweet, right? To be a surgeon or a physician, you must have a bachelor’s degree, which takes around three to nine years to finish up everything.

Airline Pilots

Airline pilots fly only for specific airlines to transport passengers or cargo on fixed schedules. Therefore, piloting is quite critical, and it is only fair that the salary matches the job. As of May 2020, airline pilots earn an annual salary of $160,970, which is only possible if you have a degree in aviation and get an FAA license.

Human Resource Managers

Human resource is crucial for any company or organization. The individuals managing these positions must have a bachelor’s degree. In the US, an HR manager earns roughly $121,220 annually, equating to $58.28 per hour.


Dentists are essential in society. Imagine if you had a toothache and there was no experienced person to help you with it. To be a legitimate dentist, you must have a bachelor’s degree and a license. A licensed dentist earns an average salary of $164,010, which equals $78.85 per hour in the US. To be a dentist, you must also work according to the state’s requirements.


Understanding law is not easy, and it is not a thing for everyone. That is why there are lawyers who help with cases in courts and explain different aspects of government laws. In the US, lawyers get paid average salaries of $126,930 which can also equate to $61.03 per hour.

Lawyers must have a Juris Doctor (JD) degree in law and must have passed the bar exams. Though some states have exemptions for self-certifying rather than earning a degree, that is a rare path to get to a 6 figure income.

Final Thoughts

Incomes are essential in maintaining financial stability, whether employed, owning a business, or making investments. As discussed above, salaries are different from income, but they are all vital in maintaining your lifestyle at the end of the day. Some people believe that a 6 figure income can help them build wealth. However, everything is possible, provided you better understand and plan yourself well. Getting a six-figure income can be an elevated way to achieve that.

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