If you’re considering a move to California, you might be wondering how much you can expect to earn and what the average salary in California is. A lot of factors go into determining how much money you’ll make no matter which state you live in, of course. Your chosen field and level of experience both play into how much you can expect to earn from your job. The area of the state in which you live will also impact your paycheck. You should take all of these factors into account when figuring out how much you can expect to earn in the Golden State.
Have some extra income you’re looking to do something with? Talk to a financial advisor today.
Average Salary in California
According data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 5-year American Community Survey, the median household income in California is $78,672. Note that this figure is the median gross income, meaning it does not take into account taxes or other deductions. It also does not include other non-cash benefits that one might get from a job, such as insurance or paid vacation time. Also note that this is household income, which includes both single-earner households and single-income homes. The mean income, meanwhile, is $111,622.
Median is the income figure that’s smack dab in the middle of a list of household incomes. Mean is the same as the average. In other words, it’s the number you get if you add up a number of incomes and divide that figure by the total number of incomes you’d added up. Median is a more reliable descriptor for average income because it isn’t as affected by outlier salaries on either end. For example, extremely low-paid professions don’t drag down the figure and extremely high salaries don’t artificially inflate it.
Average Salary in California by City
The average salary in California varies greatly by city. Different cities have different costs of living, so it makes sense that the average salary is higher in some of the places where it costs more to live. The cities with the highest average household income are Fremont, San Jose and Irvine. The city with the lowest average income is San Bernardino.
Here is the average household income for the 20 largest cities in the state, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 5-year American Community Survey:
|Average Salary in California by City|
|City||Average Household Income|
This table highlights how much the average salary in California can vary based on where you live. Remember that California is a very large state, and thus everything from the weather to the cost of living is also going to be different based on where you choose to put down roots.
Average Salary in California by County
You can also break down the average salary in California by county. According to data from the 5-year American Community Survey for 2020, the counties with the highest average household incomes are Santa Clara, Marin and San Mateo. The table below includes the average household income for each of California’s 59 counties.
|Average Salary in California by County|
|County||Average Household Income|
|Contra Costa County||$141,278|
|Del Norte County||$67,290|
|El Dorado County||$113,718|
|Los Angeles County||$103,220|
|San Benito County||$108,229|
|San Bernardino County||$85,327|
|San Diego County||$111,241|
|San Francisco County||$167,663|
|San Joaquin County||$90,974|
|San Luis Obispo County||$100,044|
|San Mateo County||$182,158|
|Santa Barbara County||$111,731|
|Santa Clara County||$174,331|
|Santa Cruz County||$123,689|
Highest Paying Jobs in California
Of course, how much money you make in California is also largely dependent on what your job is. The table below shows the top 10 paying jobs in California and each job’s mean annual wage, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for May 2021. Most of the highest paying jobs are in the medical field, with only CEOs and airline pilots as outliers.
|Average Salary in California by Job|
|Job||Average Household Income|
|Physicians and Pathologists||$350,980|
|Obstetricians and Gynecologists||$309,610|
|Family Medicine Physicians||$261,260|
The average salary in California is technically $111,622. However, the median salary can provide a much more accurate picture, as it removes extreme outliers from the numbers. Therefore, the median salary in California is $78,672.
Your salary in California largely will depend on where you live and what your job is. You can get a better idea of what your salary might look like in the Golden State by looking at the above tables that break down salary by city, county and profession.
- Eventually, you’ll want to stop working whether you live in California or elsewhere. To be able to live comfortably without bringing home a regular salary, you’ll need to plan carefull. You may find it helpful to hire a financial advisor to help you with that planning. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- No matter how much money you make living in California, you’ll end up giving some of it to the government. You can determine your likely tax burden with SmartAsset’s California income tax calculator.
Photo Credit: ©iStock.com/Ron_Thomas, ©iStock.com/AndreyPopov, ©iStock.com/ronstik