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The Average Salary by Age

Are you making enough money? It’s a complicated question, and the answer depends on where you live and what your needs and long-term goals are. But some people just want to know how their pay compares to that of other people their age. No one likes to feel like they’re at the back of the pack, after all.

To help you get a sense of where you stand, we took a closer look at the average salary by age for full-time workers in the U.S. We got this data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which tracks Americans’ earnings by several demographic factors, including age. These numbers are for full-time workers in each age set.

The Average Salary 16-19

As you might imagine, the lowest salary by age group is the one comprised entirely of teenagers, many of whom are only working summer jobs. According to BLS data, the average salary of 16- to-19-year-olds is $448.50 per week, $23,322 per year. That’s the average across all races, genders and education levels.

The Average Salary 20-24

Earnings increase beginning in one’s 20s, an age group that includes some new college graduates. The average salary of 20-to-24-year-olds is $572.50 per week, which translates to $29,770 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 age 25-34, the mean salary is $806.75 per week, or $41,951 per year. That’s a big jump from the average salary for 20-24-year-olds. As a general rule, earnings tend to rise in your 20s and 30s as you get promoted and receive raises. This set also includes many people who received professional degrees from graduate schools, further bringing up the average.

The Average Salary 35-44

The average salary of 35-to-44-year olds is $986 per week, $51,272 per year. However, that’s a number that conceals considerable variation by gender. For example, male 35-to-44-year-olds earn a mean salary of $1,101.25 per week while women in the same age bracket earn an average of $876.25 per week.

The Average Salary 45-54

The Average Salary by Age

Earnings start to plateau in your 40s. The average salary of 45-to-54-year-olds is $1,002.75 per week, $52,143 per year. That’s the highest average salary of any of the age groups the BLS tracks. Again, the gender income gap is significant in this age group. Men between the ages of 45 and 54 earn an average of $1,137 per week while women in the same age bracket average $875 per week.

The Average Salary 55-64

The average salary for Americans age 55-64 is $994.50 per week, $51,714 per year. Earnings in this age bracket are slightly lower than in the 45-54 age bracket. There are also fewer total workers in this age bracket. According to the BLS, there are 25,565,250 full-time workers in the 45-54 age bracket, and only 19,584,500 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 $936.25 per week, $48,685 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 4,662,250 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.

Age Group Average Salary
16-19 $23,322
20-24 $29,770
25-34 $41,951
35-44 $51,272
45-54 $52,143
55-64 $51,714
65+ $48,685

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. Rather than wading through all the financial professionals in your area, consider using 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 thicker, 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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