Average Salary By Age in America

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Understanding the average salary in America across the different age ranges can be valuable to you during your search for a job. If you are searching for a job, you may be interested in finding out how much you could earn throughout your career or comparing your salary to those who are the same age as you.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes an annual report of the average salaries of full-time wage and salary workers, divided into age groups from 16 to 65 and over. This article will help you to learn about the average salary by age in America.

Average salary by age

The BLS tells us that these are the average weekly, monthly and annual salaries by age for the first quarter of 2019: 

AgeWeekly incomeMonthly incomeAnnual income
16 to 19 years$472$2,045$24,544
20 to 24 years$596$2,582$30,992
25 to 34 years$815$3,532$42,380
35 to 44 years$1,033$4,477$53,716
45 to 54 years$1,017$4,407$52,884
55 to 64 years$1,017$4,407$52,884
65 years plus$877$3,801$45,604

Across all age groups, the median weekly earnings were $905 for this period, which is an annual salary of $47,060. The median is the middle value in any range, so it shows us what the average worker will be taking home in their pay packet. This 2019 figure represents an increase of 2.7% compared to 2018.

Why potential earnings differ by age

The statistics show that salaries gradually increase with age. The peak in earnings is at around 40 years of age with a weekly income of $1,033, more than double the pay rate for teenagers.

From the late 30s to early 60s, the pay rate does not change significantly with most people bringing in around $1,000 per week. After the age of 65, earnings begin to decrease to $877 per week. 

Below is a brief summary of the average salary for the following ages:

  • The average salary for ages 16-19
  • The average salary for ages 20-24
  • The average salary for ages 25-34
  • The average salary for ages 35-44
  • The average salary for ages 45-54
  • The average salary for ages 55-64
  • The average salary for ages 65 and older

The average salary for ages 16–19

According to the BLS data, the 16 to 19-year-old group on average earn the least amount of money at $472 per week. People in this age bracket are usually in their first jobs with little experience. The employer offers a starting salary that is lower than average until they can see that the employee is capable and provides value for the company.

Teenagers do not have a lot of work experience or a high level of education, resulting in them having jobs with the lowest salaries. If you are in this age group and have no experience, ensure that your resume highlights your abilities and skill sets.

The average salary for ages 20–24

This age group represents several different sectors of workers. Some students are attending college and are working to support their studies. Some apprentices and trainees are gaining further experience on job qualifications in the practical industries, such as in the service industry or construction. Others are still finding their first jobs.

The average salary for ages 25–34

People in this age group may have held the same job for several years, gaining considerable experience and qualifications. Some have now graduated from college. Employers may have been awarding raises and promotions, meaning that this age group enjoys a substantial increase in salary.

The average salary for ages 35–44

This age group has enormous earning potential, and it is the highest-earning age group. People are advancing in their careers and possibly taking on more high-level management roles.

The average salary for ages 45–54

Many people find that the peak of their earning potential occurs in this group. Some might retire early from their careers, and others take on leading roles because they are now valuable consultants with decades of experience.

The average salary for ages 55–64

An increase in people who are retiring at this age means there is a decline in average salary.

The average salary for ages 65 and older

A further increase in the rate of retirement and others working in high-level jobs means that this age group shows a decline in salary on average from the peak 35-44 age group, but it remains much higher than the younger age groups.

These figures may not be relevant in understanding what salary you could be earning on your career path. Salaries can be very different depending on your situation, occupation and location. There are many factors that can impact the salary an employer is able to offer a candidate or employee, including:

  • Level of education
  • Experience
  • Industry
  • Location

Tips on how you can increase your salary

Making more money can help you to increase your quality of life. As you get older and progress through your career, your salary could potentially increase with relevant work experience. However, there are things that you can do to earn more at any age.

Here are some tips that can help you to increase your chances of earning a higher salary over the course of your career:

Graduate from high school

In the 25-year-old and older group, those without a high school degree had an annual salary of $30,056, which increases to $38,428 for those who have successfully graduated from high school.

Pursue higher education

Increasing your level of education at any time in your career could increase your salary, depending on the career path you are on. If you hold a bachelor’s degree, your earning potential increases to $70,200 annually.

Get a certification

Increasing your level of education does not mean that you must attend college. You can also earn a professional certification for your industry or workplace. 

Having standardized skills and qualifications makes you more competent and knowledgeable and increases your value to an employer. Workplace certifications are common in many careers, including the fields of IT, sales, project management and health care.

Learn a new skill 

Speaking a second language, driving a vehicle or learning how to negotiate are all skills that can make you more attractive to an employer and could improve your ability to negotiate your salary. 

Perfect your resume

Ensure that you start any new job with the highest possible salary by listing your academic achievements and experiences correctly on your resume.