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The Average Salary by Age

How are you doing, earnings-wise, compared to other people the same age? Of course, the answer largely depends on where you live and what you do. But knowing the median salary of people the same age can tell you if you’re generally keeping up, pacing ahead or lagging behind your peers. And knowing what older generations earn can give you a sense of what to aim for – and look forward to.

Are you under-earning for your age group? Read on for a closer look at the median salary by age for full-time workers in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2020. (With the higher unemployment rate of lower-income sectors, these numbers are slightly higher than before the pandemic.) We got this data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which tracks Americans’ earnings by several demographic factors, including age. However you compare to other people your age, remember that what you save is more important than what you earn – and how you invest it can be even more significant. For help growing your savings, talk to a financial advisor

The Average Salary 16-19

As you may imagine, age group with the lowest salary is the one comprised entirely of teenagers, many of whom typically only work summer jobs. According to BLS data, the median salary of 16- to 19-year-olds is $506 per week, which comes out to $26,312 per year. That’s the median across all races, genders and education levels. (The BLS provides medians rather than averages, since an average can be skewed by very high and very low numbers.)

The Average Salary 20-24

Earnings increase beginning in one’s 20s, an age group that includes some new college graduates. The median salary of 20- to 24-year-olds is $640 per week, which translates to $33,280 per year. Many Americans start out their careers in their 20s and don’t earn as much as they will once they reach their 30s.

The Average Salary 25-34

For Americans ages 25 to 34, the median salary is $918 per week, or $47,736 per year. That’s a big jump from the median salary for 20- to 24-year-olds. As a general rule, earnings tend to rise in your 20s and 30s as you start to climb up the ladder. Also, this set includes many people who received professional degrees from graduate schools, further bringing up salaries.

The Average Salary 35-44

The median salary of 35- to 44-year olds is $1,135 per week, or $59,020 per year. That said, the number conceals considerable variation by gender. For example, male 35- to 44-year-olds earn a median salary of $1,239 per week while women in the same age bracket earn a median $1,011 per week.

The Average Salary 45-54

The Average Salary by Age

Earnings start to level out in your 40s. The median salary of 45- to 54-year-olds is $1,144 per week, or $59,488 per year. That’s only slightly more than the median for 35- to 44-year olds, though the weekly median for men aged 45 to 54 years is 1,271. Again, the gender income gap is significant in this age group. The weekly median for women in the same age bracket is $1,005.

The Average Salary 55-64

The median salary for Americans aged 55 to 64 is $1,090 per week, or $56,680 per year. Earnings in this age bracket are slightly lower than in the 45-54 age bracket, and there are also fewer total workers in this age bracket. According to the BLS, there are 22,951,000 full-time workers in the 45-54 age bracket, and only 18,169,000 full-time workers in the 55-64 age bracket. Many start to leave the workforce when they hit 62 and become eligible for Social Security benefits (though it’s best to max out those benefits by waiting longer to start taking them).

The Average Salary 65 and Older

Americans aged 65 and older earn an average of $1,018 per week, or $52,936 per year. This average is for full-time workers, so it doesn’t take into account the many people in this age bracket who drop out of the workforce to begin taking income from Social Security and their retirement savings. There are 4,457,000 full-time workers in the 65 and older bracket. Some workers over 65 may be in the workforce because they haven’t saved enough.

Check out the chart below to see our break-down of the average salary by age.

THE AVERAGE SALARY BY AGE IN 2020 (SECOND QUARTER)
Age Group Average Salary
16-19 $26,312
20-24 $33,280
25-34 $47,736
35-44 $59,020
45-54 $59,488
55-64 $56,680
65+ $52,936

Bottom Line

The Average Salary By Age

These BLS stats only consider full-time wage- or salary-earners. Since many Americans are unemployed or under-employed (working part time when they would prefer to be working full time), these numbers don’t fully reflect how much your age cohort is earning. Within each age bracket, earnings vary widely by gender, race and education level, too. Some people also get income from sources other than salary and wage earnings – sources like investment income.

Still, knowing how much other full-time workers your age are earning can be a useful metric as you evaluate your financial picture.

Tips for Maximizing Your Salary

  • Want to build a financial plan and start growing your wealth? A financial advisor can help get you on track to meet your goals. To find the right one for you, use SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool. Just answer a series of questions about your situation and your goals and the tool will match you with up to three local advisors who can meet your needs.
  • For many people, the salary from their employer is only part of their income stream. If you’re looking to line your pockets a little more, consider your options for generating passive income. This could be anything from buying a vending machine, renting out a spare room or even buying a business and having someone else run it.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Portra, ©iStock.com/Nikada, ©iStock.com/kupicoo

Amelia Josephson Amelia Josephson is a writer passionate about covering financial literacy topics. Her areas of expertise include retirement and home buying. Amelia's work has appeared across the web, including on AOL, CBS News and The Simple Dollar. She holds degrees from Columbia and Oxford. Originally from Alaska, Amelia now calls Brooklyn home.
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