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The Average Salary by Age

How much money is enough? Some people answer this question by comparing themselves to others in their age group. No one likes to feel like they’re at the back of the pack. To help you get a sense of where you stand, let’s take a closer look at the average salary by age for full-time workers in the U.S. 

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The Average Salary 16-19

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks Americans’ earnings by several demographic factors, including age. According to BLS data, the average salary of 16- to-19-year-olds is $420 per week, $21,840 per year. That’s the average across all races, genders and education levels.

The Average Salary 20-24

As you might expect, earnings increase beginning in one’s 20s. The average salary of 20-to-24-year-olds is $528 per week, $27,456 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 $758 per week, $39,416 per year. That’s a big jump from the average salary for 20-24-year-olds. Conventional wisdom holds that one’s 20s and 30s are the times when one gets raises. It’s common for earnings to plateau beginning in one’s 40s.

The Average Salary 35-44

The average salary of 35-to-44-year olds is $950 per week, $49,400 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 $1,019 per week while women in the same age bracket earn an average of $859 per week.

The Average Salary 45-54

The Average Salary by Age

The average salary of 45-to-54-year-olds is $962 per week, $50,024 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 $1,102 per week while women in the same age bracket average $840 per week.

The Average Salary 55-64

The average salary for Americans age 55-64 is $954 per week, $49,608 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 22,658,000 full-time workers in the 45-54 age bracket, and only 18,544,000 full-time workers in the 55-64 age bracket.

The Average Salary 65 and Older

Americans aged 65 and older earn an average of $888 per week, $46,176 per year. This average is for full-time workers, so doesn’t take into account the many people in this age bracket who drop out of the workforce. There are 4,114,000 full-time workers in the 65 and older bracket. Some workers over 65 may be in the workforce because they don’t have sufficient retirement savings.

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

Age Group Average Salary
16-19 $21,840
20-24 $27,456
25-34 $39,416
35-44 $49,400
45-54 $50,024
55-64 $49,608
65+ $46,176

Bottom Line

The Average Salary By Age

Many Americans are unemployed or under-employed – working part-time when they would prefer to be working full-time – so take these BLS stats on average salary with a grain of salt because they only apply to full-time wage- or salary-earners. 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.

If you are worried you are falling behind or just concerned in general about your financial picture, a financial advisor can help get you on track to meet your goals. It may seem daunting to wade through all of the options but a matching tool like SmartAsset’s SmartAdvisor can help you find a person to work with to meet your needs. First you answer a series of questions about your situation and your goals. Then the program narrows down thousands of advisors to three fiduciaries who meet your needs. You can then read their profiles to learn more about them, interview them on the phone or in person and choose who to work with in the future. This allows you to find a good fit while doing much of the hard work for you.

Update: You can make your salary grow on its own by opening a high-interest savings account. Check out the CIT Bank Money Market Account. It offers 1.85% interest (20x the national average) and doesn’t charge any service fees. You can open an account with a $100 minimum deposit.

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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