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The Average Salary by Age

The answer to how your earnings compare to others in your age group 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. Knowing what older generations earn can also give you a sense of what to aim for and look forward to. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides timely information on this topic. In turn, the BLS data below is from the fourth quarter of 2021, which is the most recent information available at the time of writing. In addition, the BLS provides medians rather than averages, since an average can be skewed by very high and very low numbers. For help growing your savings and managing your investments, consider consulting a financial advisor.

Average Salary for Ages 16-19

As you might imagine, the age group with the lowest salary is the one comprised entirely of teenagers, many of whom typically work summer or temporary jobs. According to BLS data, the median salary of 16- to 19-year-olds is $566 per week, which comes out to $29,432 per year. That’s the median across all races, genders and education levels.

Average Salary for Ages 20-24

Earnings increase beginning in one’s 20s, as this age group includes some new college graduates. The median salary of 20- to 24-year-olds is $667 per week, which translates to $34,684 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.

Average Salary for Ages 25-34

For Americans ages 25 to 34, the median salary is $960 per week, or $49,920 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.

Average Salary for Ages 35-44

The Average Salary by Age

The median salary of 35- to 44-year olds is $1,127 per week, or $58,604 per year. That said, the number conceals considerable variation by gender.

For example, male 35- to 44-year-olds earn a median salary of $1,232 per week, whereas women in the same age bracket earn a median $1,003 per week. This illustrates a portion of the gender income gap that has been a major topic of conversation in recent years.

Average Salary for Ages 45-54

Earnings start to level out in your 40s. The median salary of 45- to 54-year-olds is $1,152 per week, or $59,904 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 $1,260. Again, the gender income gap is significant in this age group. The weekly median for women in the same age bracket is $1,035.

Average Salary for Ages 55-64

The median salary for Americans aged 55 to 64 is $1,145 per week, or $59,540 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 24,708,000 full-time workers in the 45-54 age bracket, and only 19,427,000 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.

Average Salary for Ages 65 and Older

Americans aged 65 and older earn an average of $1,008 per week, or $52,416 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 5,361,000 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 a breakdown of the average annual salary by age group:

Average Salary by Age (4th Quarter of 2021)
Age Group Average Salary
16-19 $29,432
20-24 $34,684
25-34 $49,920
35-44 $58,604
45-54 $59,904
55-64 $59,540
65+ $52,416

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, such as investment income. Still, knowing how much other full-time workers in your age  bracket are earning can be a useful metric as you evaluate your overall 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. 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.
  • 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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