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Average Salary by Age plus Median, Top 1%, and All Salary Percentiles

Written by:
PK

In this post are United States Salary Brackets by Age for 2020 (using the newest data we have through mid-2021). You'll also find average salary by age, plus median and top 1% salaries by age.

Salaries/wage incomes are gross (pre-tax), earned between January and December 2019 (the survey is taken in March 2020; these are "full-year 2019" salaries, and the data is pre-COVID-19).

Salary Benchmarks by Age in 2020

Age is an excellent proxy for experience in most datasets – generally, the longer you've been at a job or career, the better you are in that job or career. While that's not a universal law, it's good practice to separate salary data by age. (Although you can find aggregate salary averages and stats here).

The best summary statistics for salary are:

  • Median salary by age
  • Average salary by age
  • Top 1% salary by age

We'll hit each summary statistic in kind, but here's a quick visualization of the main salary breakpoints for selected ages.

United States salary percentile by age in 2020

What is the median salary by age in the United States?

In 2020 in the United States, these were the median salaries earned by age:

  • Age 25: $35,000.00
  • Age 35: $51,000.00
  • Age 45: $57,000.00
  • Age 55: $57,000.00
  • Age 65: $50,000.00

The following table lists the median salary for every age from 16-80 in the United States:

AgeMedian Salary
16$6,000.00
17$6,686.00
18$10,000.00
19$15,000.00
20$19,500.00
21$20,000.00
22$24,750.00
23$28,000.00
24$30,100.00
25$35,000.00
26$40,000.00
27$39,000.00
28$42,000.00
29$42,000.00
30$46,000.00
31$45,000.00
32$49,000.00
33$50,000.00
34$50,000.00
35$51,000.00
36$52,000.00
37$53,000.00
38$55,000.00
39$54,000.00
40$55,000.00
41$52,000.00
42$53,000.00
43$55,000.00
44$55,000.00
45$57,000.00
46$53,000.00
47$55,000.00
48$54,000.00
49$55,000.00
50$57,148.00
51$60,000.00
52$55,000.00
53$55,000.00
54$54,000.00
55$57,000.00
56$55,000.00
57$54,000.00
58$53,000.00
59$50,000.00
60$50,000.00
61$51,134.00
62$50,000.00
63$50,000.00
64$51,000.00
65$50,000.00
66$46,000.00
67$45,000.00
68$45,000.00
69$36,000.00
70$40,000.00
71$40,000.00
72$30,000.00
73$35,000.00
74$34,000.00
75$37,000.00
76$32,000.00
77$45,000.00
78$40,000.00
79$30,000.00
80$36,000.00
85$35,000.00

What is the average salary by age in the United States?

In 2020 in the United States, these were the average salaries earned by age:

  • Age 25: $42,609.29
  • Age 35: $72,005.03
  • Age 45: $75,118.92
  • Age 55: $77,381.38
  • Age 65: $67,701.23

In this next table, I've summarized the average salary for every age from 16-80 in the United States in 2020:

AgeAverage Salary
16$12,343.45
17$12,252.90
18$20,100.25
19$19,856.04
20$22,924.50
21$24,061.26
22$28,480.85
23$32,802.98
24$39,523.07
25$42,609.29
26$45,950.38
27$46,039.02
28$51,134.49
29$51,707.91
30$55,560.52
31$55,791.29
32$58,718.66
33$62,182.52
34$65,957.74
35$72,005.03
36$67,602.26
37$69,117.96
38$68,983.92
39$77,677.42
40$73,704.70
41$69,081.82
42$74,133.86
43$71,574.34
44$74,554.29
45$75,118.92
46$77,727.55
47$77,499.42
48$75,692.91
49$75,812.56
50$73,994.59
51$77,660.05
52$71,856.83
53$74,645.01
54$74,281.46
55$77,381.38
56$72,956.10
57$73,487.30
58$72,983.46
59$72,790.92
60$73,037.69
61$69,022.54
62$71,607.42
63$72,455.73
64$71,749.13
65$67,701.23
66$63,201.97
67$70,675.06
68$62,644.01
69$51,381.42
70$59,403.61
71$58,013.11
72$45,820.14
73$55,795.40
74$66,905.77
75$55,421.80
76$79,084.77
77$60,298.82
78$48,880.58
79$35,590.73
80$56,760.01

What is the top 1% salary by age in the United States?

Here are the summary top 1% salary benchmarks in the US in 2020, starting at 25 years old and moving up a decade at a time:

  • Age 25: $171,000.00
  • Age 35: $400,000.00
  • Age 45: $355,000.00
  • Age 55: $480,000.00
  • Age 65: $400,000.00

Remember to be appropriately skeptical with the 'upper' salaries. By definition, fewer people earn up here and the distribution isn't as well behaved. You see this in overall income by age as well (although it isn't as bad with salary, there are fewer outliers from layering other income sources).

I've also cut down the ages to 18-70.

My warning in the income by age post applies here, too: to smooth over the spikes, look at a few adjacent ages to get a 'feel,' don't take one age as the correct value. (For what that's worth!) 

AgeTop 1% Salary
18$170,000.00
19$80,000.00
20$115,000.00
21$100,000.00
22$135,000.00
23$145,000.00
24$150,000.00
25$171,000.00
26$170,000.00
27$160,000.00
28$200,000.00
29$210,000.00
30$210,000.00
31$220,000.00
32$225,000.00
33$280,000.00
34$315,000.00
35$400,000.00
36$294,000.00
37$318,000.00
38$300,000.00
39$600,000.00
40$400,000.00
41$300,000.00
42$400,000.00
43$400,000.00
44$400,000.00
45$355,000.00
46$550,000.00
47$500,000.00
48$380,000.00
49$430,000.00
50$350,000.00
51$315,000.00
52$350,000.00
53$400,000.00
54$490,000.00
55$480,000.00
56$400,000.00
57$400,000.00
58$360,000.00
59$370,000.00
60$510,000.00
61$290,000.00
62$390,000.00
63$300,000.00
64$500,000.00
65$400,000.00
66$300,000.00
67$410,000.00
68$420,000.00
69$203,000.00
70$300,000.00

Income vs. Salary

Salary is what you earn from a job, your wage income. Income is a much more expansive set of ways to earn money. Here, think: business, investment, interest, rent, etc.

We specialize in income here on DQYDJ – find all our recent income posts here. (Including household income and individual income).

Salary by Age Summary for the United States in 2020

Want a bit more resolution? Check out the salary percentile by age calculator for the full picture, but for a slightly clearer distribution, here's a roll-up:

Methodology on 2020 United States Salary Brackets

This data comes from the United States Census Bureau's Annual ASEC survey from September 2020.

Sarah Flood, Miriam King, Renae Rodgers, Steven Ruggles and J. Robert Warren. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current Population Survey: Version 8.0 [dataset]. Minneapolis, MN: IPUMS, 2020. https://doi.org/10.18128/D030.V8.0

Data Quality

Her I've summarized the number of data points left after my screen, as well as the number of workers that represents per age group.

AgeSamples in ScreenEstimated Workers
16100                  167,152
17239                  420,752
18412                  760,538
19487               1,012,908
20618               1,463,489
21741               1,802,207
22890               2,254,202
23897               2,230,147
241011               2,646,597
251205               3,162,580
261133               2,956,852
271263               3,252,122
281280               3,159,490
291362               3,342,758
301388               3,116,187
311422               3,148,341
321494               3,171,209
331464               3,059,407
341469               2,966,348
351601               3,109,962
361516               2,940,788
371682               3,207,866
381544               2,858,027
391560               3,047,177
401503               2,869,810
411448               2,683,845
421339               2,550,151
431432               2,734,139
441403               2,625,211
451409               2,648,615
461346               2,598,395
471317               2,558,657
481282               2,622,966
491425               2,923,539
501388               2,845,027
511358               2,787,134
521286               2,670,531
531210               2,569,853
541212               2,535,045
551254               2,692,295
561235               2,609,584
571192               2,612,771
581126               2,411,916
591093               2,365,399
601041               2,352,858
611014               2,188,013
62891               1,964,744
63795               1,725,175
64675               1,491,785
65605               1,261,216
66455                  945,424
67409                  862,319
68313                  664,840
69300                  624,123
70239                  486,157
71167                  358,731
72186                  387,169
73146                  319,235
7499                  201,232
7591                  214,273
7692                  212,775
7783                  182,009
7870                  150,526
7950                  105,585
80130                  293,866
8564                  131,364

What is your screen?

You can find the worker screen in the salary research post's methodology section.

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