High Earner Careers?

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MikeZ
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by MikeZ »

Well I can't say too much, I would say but I did review the compensation of an approximately $12 billion dollar public company once, and found that approximately 15 of the 7,000 employees had over $300,000 of base compensation. They were all at the top of the organization chart.

It was probably the most boring industry you could imagine, just for reference
stoptothink
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by stoptothink »

MikeZ wrote:Well I can't say too much, I would say but I did review the compensation of an approximately $12 billion dollar public company once, and found that approximately 15 of the 7,000 employees had over $300,000 of base compensation. They were all at the top of the organization chart.

It was probably the most boring industry you could imagine, just for reference
My company has over 7,000 employees worldwide, I'd be shocked if there were 15 who made a 300,000 base. In fact, I would be a bit surprised if it were more than four, that being the number of founders of the company.
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ctraveler
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by ctraveler »

I’m the OP. I’m glad to see based on all of the responses that this was an interesting topic for discussion.

I’m in my late 30’s, work in IT in a high cost of living area and make a bit under 6 figures. My current role involves developing technical proposals and pricing for customers so it’s somewhat of a technical sales position.

I know the account managers here and at a previous place I worked make a lot more than me so periodically I think about trying to move into a straight IT sales role but other than wanting to make more money I’m pretty happy with my current job.

I also love finance, I’m the go to person for all of my friends and family when they have finance questions. I would love to be a financial advisor but I'm not sure how to do that without taking a large pay cut to start over in a new field and all of the risks involved with that. I also don’t know if I would end up making much more as a fee only advisor than I do now.
jjbiv
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by jjbiv »

Does your employer (or do similar companies) employ sales engineers/systems engineers/technical consultants? Move to a position like that where you can still be technical but also get a nice bonus based on the value of what you help to sell. Get commission as a part of your total compensation and if you perform, you can make a lot of money.
TradingPlaces
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by TradingPlaces »

The fastest way to become a high earning, non-rich person in USA:

- wall street. But I don't mean work for Brown Brother Harriman doing god knows what. I mean look for fields that are on the cutting edge of technology and finance. Best folks going to Wall Street get to $1m in 5 years or less,

- tech start-ups. This is more of a hit-and-miss thing. If you can land on a good start-up early, then you might end up with a one-time cashout from a good start-up. A good cashout might take 5-6 years. What is even better is if you have an eye for good startups, and hop around. Stay for 2-3 years, and whatever is yours, you keep. You let the vested stuff grow. Meanwhile, you collect stock options from other startups.

- create your own <fill the blanks>. If you are so good that you create a successful start-up, you can potentially cash out in single or low-double digit millions. The good thing is that once you have a successful exit, there is a ridiculous opportunity waiting: VCs will love you. Chances of a fresher having a successful exit of a startup: less than 10%. Chances of someone with a successful exit having the second one: 50%. When two with success pair up, chances go up to 75%.

- good salesman / saleswoman. Here, it is basically something that requires in part talent and and in part skill. A good sales position will allow you to earn 20% of your sales. So if you can sell a 10MM project, you can expect to get 20% of that.
TradingPlaces
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by TradingPlaces »

MikeZ wrote:Well I can't say too much, I would say but I did review the compensation of an approximately $12 billion dollar public company once, and found that approximately 15 of the 7,000 employees had over $300,000 of base compensation. They were all at the top of the organization chart.

It was probably the most boring industry you could imagine, just for reference
What does 12Billion dollar mean:

- 12B in annual sales?
- 12B in market cap?
- 12B in annual net profits?

300K does not seem like a lot. Even a 100-person firm would have 3-5 people making over $300K in total comp.

In high paying jobs, the base is rarely the issue. In high paying jobs, most of the high pay comes from:

- incentives,
- bonuses,
- commissions,
- stock options,
etc
quantAndHold
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by quantAndHold »

Senior technical person for a tech company in a high COL area. Making $300k+ right now, mostly because I hit the RSU lottery. There have been exactly two times in my career when I've made this kind of money. In the 1998-99 tech bubble, and now. Technical people do relatively well. But not that well, certainly not consistently over the length of a long career. I figure over the course of my career, I'll have 4-5 years of that kind of income, and I feel incredibly lucky. Many of my colleagues don't get that.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
MrKnight
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by MrKnight »

Crow Hunter wrote:
zaboomafoozarg wrote:
new2bogle wrote:Engineering is good $200k after 10 years for mid level engineers.
I guess I only have 2 years to double my salary. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing this wrong.
More than double mine and I have negative 8 years to do it. I guess I better get to work on my time machine design.

I'm not sure where these guys are getting 200k for mid level engineers at 10 years. What do you define as mid level engineers? Do you mean like middle management?
MikeZ
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by MikeZ »

TradingPlaces wrote:
MikeZ wrote:Well I can't say too much, I would say but I did review the compensation of an approximately $12 billion dollar public company once, and found that approximately 15 of the 7,000 employees had over $300,000 of base compensation. They were all at the top of the organization chart.

It was probably the most boring industry you could imagine, just for reference
What does 12Billion dollar mean:

- 12B in annual sales?
- 12B in market cap?
- 12B in annual net profits?li

300K does not seem like a lot. Even a 100-person firm would have 3-5 people making over $300K in total comp.

In high paying jobs, the base is rarely the issue. In high paying jobs, most of the high pay comes from:

- incentives,
- bonuses,
- commissions,
- stock options,
etc

12 billion dollar market cap, also the number I mentioned was only base salary. I don't have the data to speak to anything else.
Rodc
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by Rodc »

Crow Hunter wrote:
zaboomafoozarg wrote:
new2bogle wrote:Engineering is good $200k after 10 years for mid level engineers.
I guess I only have 2 years to double my salary. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing this wrong.
More than double mine and I have negative 8 years to do it. I guess I better get to work on my time machine design.
You are an engineer!
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.
bb
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by bb »

I don't think $300K in engineering after 10 years is
a realistic expectation. I would be interested in
data on what % of engineers make that kind
of money - at 10 years and at any age.
Rodc
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by Rodc »

bb wrote:I don't think $300K in engineering after 10 years is
a realistic expectation. I would be interested in
data on what % of engineers make that kind
of money - at 10 years and at any age.
https://www.asme.org/getmedia/788e990f- ... urvey.aspx

Link related to your question, if not a perfect match.

Also: http://info.exactsource.com/blog/bid/28 ... -2012-2013

Also for sofware: mid career at Google $126K
http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job ... Mid-Career

Nothing here that suggest more than a minuscule number of engineers make that sort of money, absent perhaps stock options and I doubt that is a very bid number either, posts here notwithstanding.
Last edited by Rodc on Sat Nov 14, 2015 10:42 am, edited 2 times in total.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.
tim1999
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by tim1999 »

I've always figured there are a lot of IT/Tech/Startup people from California on here that drive the numbers up, especially due to stock options, etc.

An engineer at my non-tech megacorp is lucky to clear 100k after 20 years experience.
sawhorse
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by sawhorse »

Cherokee8215 wrote:I've always figured there are a lot of IT/Tech/Startup people from California on here that drive the numbers up, especially due to stock options, etc.

An engineer at my non-tech megacorp is lucky to clear 100k after 20 years experience.
I think you hit the nail on the head. Stock options. Sometimes makes you really rich, sometimes becomes worthless and leaves you with no job on top of that. Sometimes both.
Last edited by sawhorse on Sat Nov 14, 2015 4:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
edge
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by edge »

Ya...the 'tons of people making 300k+' thing in tech is very overblown and bubbliciously California-centric. I am consulting for a fortune 500 firm (financial services with heavy tech use) with 10B+ in revenue and they have 7 people making over 300k total comp in IT. A couple of those are making a lot more than 300k. All are managing very large budgets (30M+) and teams.
TradingPlaces
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by TradingPlaces »

edge wrote:Ya...the 'tons of people making 300k+' thing in tech is very overblown and bubbliciously California-centric. I am consulting for a fortune 500 firm (financial services with heavy tech use) with 10B+ in revenue and they have 7 people making over 300k total comp in IT. A couple of those are making a lot more than 300k. All are managing very large budgets (30M+) and teams.
Fortune 500 firms are full of mediocre talent.
ThatGuy
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by ThatGuy »

Rodc wrote:Also for sofware: mid career at Google $126K
http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job ... Mid-Career

Nothing here that suggest more than a minuscule number of engineers make that sort of money, absent perhaps stock options and I doubt that is a very bid number either, posts here notwithstanding.
But but but! I thought Google hired everyone straight out of college at $200,000!?! You mean the stories are exaggerated?
Work is the curse of the drinking class - Oscar Wilde
MrKnight
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by MrKnight »

TradingPlaces wrote:
edge wrote:Ya...the 'tons of people making 300k+' thing in tech is very overblown and bubbliciously California-centric. I am consulting for a fortune 500 firm (financial services with heavy tech use) with 10B+ in revenue and they have 7 people making over 300k total comp in IT. A couple of those are making a lot more than 300k. All are managing very large budgets (30M+) and teams.
Fortune 500 firms are full of mediocre talent.
We're not discussing whether people have mediocre talent, actual or perceived. We're talking about what can be expected from the typical majority pursuing this career track. Please note that someone that is in that career track with that education probably already represents the top 10% of the population in terms of ability and education. Shoot, by getting a liberal arts degree period you are already top 30 or 40%
edge
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by edge »

TradingPlaces wrote:
edge wrote:Ya...the 'tons of people making 300k+' thing in tech is very overblown and bubbliciously California-centric. I am consulting for a fortune 500 firm (financial services with heavy tech use) with 10B+ in revenue and they have 7 people making over 300k total comp in IT. A couple of those are making a lot more than 300k. All are managing very large budgets (30M+) and teams.
Fortune 500 firms are full of mediocre talent.
What does that have to do with anything? The market sets wages. There is no 'normal' ultra high comp for software engineers. On average they make a good living. Not as good as doctors certainly, maybe slightly better than other engineering disciplines. There are a very few exceptions. There are likely more exceptions than usual the past 3-5 years but it is probably a venture capital/equity fueled bubble that will burst and leave a lot of people unable to pay for their somewhat crappy SF townhouses.

And in most cases it is not the programming skill that is all that valuable. Most of what Silicon Valley has been putting out has nothing to do with 'awesome' whiz bang code or fantastic engineering (e.g. Facebook/Uber/etc). Silicon Valley is probably less technical than in the Sun Microsystems / HP heyday.

In any case, if you want a pretty safe high paying career, it is better to be a mediocre doctor than a mediocre programmer, that's for sure.
Atilla
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by Atilla »

A job in sales on commission can pay well. Never thought I'd end up where I did, but have worked for a very small company since the 1990s (under $8 mil a year gross revenue). They pay me 7% of gross sales with a month a year paid vacation time. Health benefits suck so bad I don't bother to access them. I work from home - there's some stress but I really can't complain.

4-year business degree from a flagship state college.

I've made between $112K and $165K annually for the past 10 years living in flyover country in a $165,000 house in a section 8 neighborhood. Around here that's high-earning. :beer When I go grocery shopping I see folks paying with EBT cards.
randomguy
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by randomguy »

ThatGuy wrote:
Rodc wrote:Also for sofware: mid career at Google $126K
http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job ... Mid-Career

Nothing here that suggest more than a minuscule number of engineers make that sort of money, absent perhaps stock options and I doubt that is a very bid number either, posts here notwithstanding.
But but but! I thought Google hired everyone straight out of college at $200,000!?! You mean the stories are exaggerated?
Different numbers. What is the salary of a person hired out of stanford who gets 100k/yr salary, 400k/4 years of RSU, and 20%/yr bonusus? The average salary is 100k. The compensation is more like 250k. Of course if the stock drops in half (or doubles) those RSUs aren't worth 400k anymore.
Rodc
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by Rodc »

randomguy wrote:
ThatGuy wrote:
Rodc wrote:Also for sofware: mid career at Google $126K
http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job ... Mid-Career

Nothing here that suggest more than a minuscule number of engineers make that sort of money, absent perhaps stock options and I doubt that is a very bid number either, posts here notwithstanding.
But but but! I thought Google hired everyone straight out of college at $200,000!?! You mean the stories are exaggerated?
Different numbers. What is the salary of a person hired out of stanford who gets 100k/yr salary, 400k/4 years of RSU, and 20%/yr bonusus? The average salary is 100k. The compensation is more like 250k. Of course if the stock drops in half (or doubles) those RSUs aren't worth 400k anymore.
How many people are hired out of Stanford vs somewhere else?

Is the op who is asking about high wage jobs from Stanford?

How many people get RSU? How many Google engineers get RSU? (All, only the top hires?)

Is the OP likely to get an RSU?

To what degree is this relevant to the question? (I know the top talent gets a lot of money, but what about the average talent? I honestly don't know)

Just checked glassdoor which is consistent with the above report: ave $127K, senior software engineer $162K. Presumably they report total comp they see? (I presume they do not report things like health insurance which arguably is part of total comp)

Added:
Google:

Average Total Compensation: $144,652 (ranging from $78K to $550K)

Average Salary: $118,958 (ranging from $78K to $215K)

Average Cash Bonus: $20,946 (ranging from $20 to $100K)

Average Stock Bonus: $30,933 (ranging from $125 to $200K)
http://www.itworld.com/article/2693353/ ... ineer.html

So sure, a top Stanford (MIT, Cal Tech, etc) student with some experience might make $250K, but few are in that category.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.
quantAndHold
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by quantAndHold »

randomguy wrote:
ThatGuy wrote:
Rodc wrote:Also for sofware: mid career at Google $126K
http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job ... Mid-Career

Nothing here that suggest more than a minuscule number of engineers make that sort of money, absent perhaps stock options and I doubt that is a very bid number either, posts here notwithstanding.
But but but! I thought Google hired everyone straight out of college at $200,000!?! You mean the stories are exaggerated?
Different numbers. What is the salary of a person hired out of stanford who gets 100k/yr salary, 400k/4 years of RSU, and 20%/yr bonusus? The average salary is 100k. The compensation is more like 250k. Of course if the stock drops in half (or doubles) those RSUs aren't worth 400k anymore.
This is approximately correct, although you're overestimating the amount of RSUs that an early career SDE will get. It's more like $100k base, 10-20% bonus, 10-20% RSUs. If the stock goes up, by the time they vest, the RSUs become more than 20%. The thing, though is that very few SDEs will have RSUs that pay off at any meaningful level for any length of time. Even the ones who are getting piles of money right now because the stock of the FANG companies is doing so well will probably only get that money for a few years before their company's stock corrects.

More typical for a mid-career SDE is $125k, or $150k in high COL areas. It's a comfortable living, but not usually "high earner" territory.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
randomguy
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by randomguy »

Rodc wrote: How many people are hired out of Stanford vs somewhere else?

Is the op who is asking about high wage jobs from Stanford?

How many people get RSU? How many Google engineers get RSU? (All, only the top hires?)

Is the OP likely to get an RSU?

To what degree is this relevant to the question? (I know the top talent gets a lot of money, but what about the average talent? I honestly don't know)

Just checked glassdoor which is consistent with the above report: ave $127K, senior software engineer $162K. Presumably they report total comp they see? (I presume they do not report things like health insurance which arguably is part of total comp)

Added:
Google:

Average Total Compensation: $144,652 (ranging from $78K to $550K)

Average Salary: $118,958 (ranging from $78K to $215K)

Average Cash Bonus: $20,946 (ranging from $20 to $100K)

Average Stock Bonus: $30,933 (ranging from $125 to $200K)
http://www.itworld.com/article/2693353/ ... ineer.html

So sure, a top Stanford (MIT, Cal Tech, etc) student with some experience might make $250K, but few are in that category.
I don't know googles policies but I would be shocked to find there are many tech companies that don't hand out RSU or options. The question of course is how many and how valuable they are. And few people might be in the MIT, Caltech, Berkley, Stanford categoy, but a lot of start up hires are in that group.

I will repeat an early point: pretty much any field is lucrative if you are very good at it. You need to figure out what your good at and how to get to the top. Now it is definitely easier in some fields than others to monetize it but we live in a world where you can make 12 million dollars/yr posting videos of you playing video games.:)
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White Coat Investor
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by White Coat Investor »

The more I learn about how the world really works the more ways to make >$300K in a single year I find.

At any rate, it's still tough to do, but the real question I'm left with is why so many people work for so little instead of figuring out how to make $50K or $100K in a year. That's a far easier thing to do than make $300K.

It doesn't take much of an entrepreneur to make $50K. It doesn't take that much by way of people skills or sales skills or education either. A little bit of that, but mostly hard work.
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oliveoiltycoon
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by oliveoiltycoon »

Specialized tech workers in the bay area can make 300k-450k in total compensation pretty reliably if they are top candidates at a company with stock doing well, even if they are not particularly senior. More senior top specialized tech workers will often break 500k. The catch is less than half of their total compensation will be base salary, the rest will be vesting RSUs that have to be refreshed so they have to keep performing very well and the company they work for has to keep doing well (and of course the stock needs to not tank).
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warner25
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by warner25 »

Watty wrote:There was a study and a lot of news stories about a year ago about how much family income it takes to be happy, and if having more helps you be happier. The national average was only $75,000 and have more that that didn't have a good correlation to being happier.
I believe that consumption beyond $75,000 per year has very marginal benefits, but earning more than $75,000 is a different story. Personally, when I think about earning $300,000 per year, I'm not thinking of boosting my lifestyle; I'm thinking of how much more I could save and invest, and how much more quickly I could attain financial independence. I'd bet most Bogleheads think similarly.
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beyou
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by beyou »

To those who say $75k is fine, I say that may be fine for certain purposes and as a single person. But thinking only of the local cost of living is a mistake. Many expenses are national and not local. Private colleges change you the same regardless of where you raised kids. The sticker price of a car does not vary all that much regionally. People with high salaries in higher cost areas can come out ahead. Low salary in low cost area can work too. Either way, it's net ability to save that matters.
investingdad
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by investingdad »

I'm a 42 year old chemical engineer working in a semi technical role that will not be in management ever. I made 110k this year in a low COLA area. My wife works in finance and made a little more than I did.

If all we get is cost of living increases for the next ten or fifteen years, we're good to go.

With twenty years of investing already behind us, I'm pleased with our situation.

For those making much more than us, well done! I know what it takes to get their and you should be pleased with what you've accomplished.
Stormbringer
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by Stormbringer »

vitaflo wrote:If you want to make real money you need to go into business for yourself. You will only get so far being an employee. I went off on my own 5 years ago as an independent contractor in the web/mobile space and it has paid off handsomely.
Bingo.

20 years ago I became an independent IT contractor and instantly went from $60K a year to $150K a year doing essentially the same job. Over the past 10 years I've averaged between $250K and $350K. The houts are long, but I enjoy my work. As a "side business" I own half a property management company and lots of rental properties that I hope will sustain my standard of living through retirement.
“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” - Albert Allen Bartlett
finster869
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by finster869 »

warner25 wrote:
Watty wrote: Personally, when I think about earning $300,000 per year, I'm not thinking of boosting my lifestyle; I'm thinking of how much more I could save and invest, and how much more quickly I could attain financial independence. I'd bet most Bogleheads think similarly.
I couldn't agree more with this sentiment as it is the way I have handled my finances. I feel savings rate (annual dollars saved divided by after-tax dollars earned) is by far the most important factor in attaining financial independence. Somebody who saves $25,000 per year while earning $50,000 after-tax dollars has the same 50% savings rate as someone who spends $200,000 per year while earning $400,000 per year of after-tax dollars. Both of these people require the same number of years worked to attain their financial independence, with the individual earning less income getting there by living more frugally. The primary reason I achieved financial independence at a young age was that even as my income grew significantly, I kept my expenses static, resulting in my saving rate going from 50% to 70%. Yes, I have been fortunate to be a high earner, but if I permitted my spending to increase in line with the compensation increases it would have substantially lengthened the time necessary for me to attain financial independence. I now find myself in the fantastic position where I choose to continue working because I enjoy it, not because I have to. Nevertheless, even now, in true boglehead form, I continue to save at a 66% to 70% clip. Tyler's Firetime calculator is based on this savings rate notion: http://portfoliocharts.com/portfolio/firetime/
Last edited by finster869 on Sun Nov 15, 2015 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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ClevrChico
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by ClevrChico »

investingdad wrote:I'm a 42 year old chemical engineer working in a semi technical role that will not be in management ever. I made 110k this year in a low COLA area. My wife works in finance and made a little more than I did.

If all we get is cost of living increases for the next ten or fifteen years, we're good to go.

With twenty years of investing already behind us, I'm pleased with our situation.

For those making much more than us, well done! I know what it takes to get their and you should be pleased with what you've accomplished.
I agree with you there. I'm mid-career, and I'm pretty happy being a salary-man with normal hours, weekends off, and generous vacation. I'll let the investments do the hard work for me. It seems like the grind to become a "high earner" wouldn't be worth it, unless it just fell into my lap.
bb
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by bb »

I guess it's fine to say some software developers/engineers are making $300K but what
is being left out is all the caveats. When someone asks what jobs are people making
$300K I think the caveats need to be mentioned - what is the median. If all we are
talking about is the top 10% then it should be mentioned. Also would be worth mentioning
how many hrs per week - level of commitment.
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Watty
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by Watty »

A couple of things;

1) The median household income in 2014 was only $54,462 so the $75,000 figure that was mentioned is almost 150% of the median household income. I'm not claiming that would support a luxury lifestyle or that making $300K would not add a lot of things but if making 150% of the median household income in your area can't support a comfortable lifestyle then we are all in trouble.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household ... ted_States

2) All the comments about software engineering.

First a little background. I have a BS in Computer Science and just retired in my late 50's as a computer programmer(my last job title was actually something like Senior Software Developer) and I worked for several companies in Silicon Valley in the 1980's including one that is still around today.

My son also got a BS in Computer Science a few years ago and I hear a lot about the current situation through him. His job title is Software Engineer but he is basically doing software development.

a) "Software Engineering" is usually job title inflation. I would think that 95%+ of the people with that job title are not really engineers in that they don't have even basic engineering training or use engineering methods even if they have a computer science degree. When looking at salaries you need to separate the real engineering level people from the software developers.

In most areas the non-engineering software developers will struggle to make more than $100K(which is still pretty good)unless they have some hot skill like security is now.

b) You also need to look at the salary of a "Software Engineer" over their likely career since it might not be that long . Someone like a high paid lawyer or doctor can often work until they are 70 if they want to, not so much so for software engineers.

By the time a software engineer gets to be in their 40's many will have moved into management and no longer really be a Software Engineer but many good technical computer people don't have a lot of the skills that it takes to be a good manager or not want to go into management(like myself).

Software engineers will need to learn new technical skills every 10 or 15 years but each time that is required a large percent of the software developers will change career paths instead of learning the new skill set. Learning the new skill set is usually possible but when your salary reflects 10+ years of experience it is hard to compete with someone with the same skill but only two years experience. I know of several software developers that had moved on to other non-computer careers by the time they were in their 30's when their first skill set became dated.

It was a big unusual that I was able to actually work as a software developer until I retired and that was possible mainly because of the knowledge I had about a specific company and market niche.

c) A large part of high salaries in Silicon Valley and San Francisco right now developed in the last few years as the housing there became even more expensive. Even with the high salaries it is very hard to get people other than recent college graduates to move there. For the job market that greatly skews the supply side of the supply vs demand balance.
RonBurgundy
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by RonBurgundy »

Stormbringer wrote:
vitaflo wrote:If you want to make real money you need to go into business for yourself. You will only get so far being an employee. I went off on my own 5 years ago as an independent contractor in the web/mobile space and it has paid off handsomely.
Bingo.

20 years ago I became an independent IT contractor and instantly went from $60K a year to $150K a year doing essentially the same job. Over the past 10 years I've averaged between $250K and $350K. The houts are long, but I enjoy my work. As a "side business" I own half a property management company and lots of rental properties that I hope will sustain my standard of living through retirement.
Same experience here. As an employee working as a tech consultant, I never broke 100k even as a "senior" consultant. For the past few years I've been doing the same exact work as an independent contractor and have been netting between 230-250k/year for three years in a row. Not quite the 300k the OP mentioned but far more than I had ever imagined making as an employee (I likely could make 300k now if I wanted to try juggling more clients/projects). There is some risk in terms of having no work between projects now, but well worth the risk to me.
rgs92
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by rgs92 »

Just for reference, in Megacorp-Telecom IT in the NYC area, experienced IT programmers or analysts are offered about $40 to $50/hour and are hired as contractors only with no vacation, no paid holidays, no paid-for benefits or 401K match. Overtime is often unpaid.
And these jobs are difficult to get with about 10+ applicants interviewed for each opening.
This is from actual personal experience from me and many friends. The salaries are about the same as they were 20 years ago (in actual dollars, not inflation adjusted.)
I made $91,000 a year 15 years ago, and now the same jobs offer about $80,000 just as contractors. And those who get hired get let go a lot and go on and off unemployment insurance frequently.
I was looking at $41/hour for the last job I interviewed for (as a higher level software guy with a major company doing Unix/C/C++/Oracle). I have a Masters degree in Math/CS and 25 years experience.
These companies rely heavily on the pipeline of insourcing from contracting firms bringing in workers from overseas. It has been a very difficult and insecure way to make a living for me and many, many of my friends over the last 20 years. I gave up and retired much earlier than expected.
Many of my peers are fruitlessly searching for jobs (or pitifully trying to "network") and are in periods of long-term unemployment. They tried to stay technical as they got older, and that turned out to be a big mistake. I guess you need to get into sales or start your own business or something.
randomguy
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by randomguy »

rgs92 wrote:Just for reference, in Megacorp-Telecom IT in the NYC area, experienced IT programmers or analysts are offered about $40 to $50/hour and are hired as contractors only with no vacation, no paid holidays, no paid-for benefits or 401K match. Overtime is often unpaid.
And these jobs are difficult to get with about 10+ applicants interviewed for each opening.
This is from actual personal experience from me and many friends. The salaries are about the same as they were 20 years ago (in actual dollars, not inflation adjusted.)
It is always amusing how worlds differ. I was making 86k/yr as programmer (vacation, benefits, no SE tax, options,...) with 3 years of experience 20 years ago. And salaries have only gone up and up. Tech and programming is a broad field. The compensation can vary greatly between the different branches.

All of these salary surveys and the like give mixed results. For example wouldn't you say investment banker is a high paid career? This has the national average at 100k: http://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/inves ... KO0,17.htm .
MrKnight
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by MrKnight »

randomguy wrote:
rgs92 wrote:Just for reference, in Megacorp-Telecom IT in the NYC area, experienced IT programmers or analysts are offered about $40 to $50/hour and are hired as contractors only with no vacation, no paid holidays, no paid-for benefits or 401K match. Overtime is often unpaid.
And these jobs are difficult to get with about 10+ applicants interviewed for each opening.
This is from actual personal experience from me and many friends. The salaries are about the same as they were 20 years ago (in actual dollars, not inflation adjusted.)
It is always amusing how worlds differ. I was making 86k/yr as programmer (vacation, benefits, no SE tax, options,...) with 3 years of experience 20 years ago. And salaries have only gone up and up. Tech and programming is a broad field. The compensation can vary greatly between the different branches.

All of these salary surveys and the like give mixed results. For example wouldn't you say investment banker is a high paid career? This has the national average at 100k: http://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/inves ... KO0,17.htm .
How much are you making now as an programmer?

Also in who's world is 100k not considered a high paid career? The irs defines highly compensated employee as someone making $115k salary a year. By making $65k a year you are already in the top 10% of the population in terms of salary. I think some folks have an unrealistic perspective on salary or are so far removed from the ordinary population that can't imagine why anyone would be making that low of a salary except for incompetence.
stoptothink
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by stoptothink »

MrKnight wrote: I think some folks have an unrealistic perspective on salary or are so far removed from the ordinary population that can't imagine why anyone would be making that low of a salary except for incompetence.
This. I had a funny introduction to my wife's boss at their summer party. Early 40's, no college education or formal job training in anything, he's now (after having started there in the call center over 10yrs ago) enterprise sales director in a growing tech company. Not sure exactly what he makes, but it has got to be around that magical $300k/yr number considering what his employees make. He made the comment to me that he is sick of the business and is considering going back to school (something my wife has told me he brings up a lot). My immediate response was "what are you going to go back to school for that you think will allow you to make even close to what you do now before you are normal retirement age?" (I know he has 4 kids, a very large mortgage, and a liking for luxury cars, etc.). He said, well I am into health, what do you make - I have a PhD, close to 10yrs experience, I make probably 1/3 what he does as a director-level employee (managing a team several times the size of his) in a health company, and there were ~1300 initial applicants for my job when I got it early this year and I went through 4 rounds of interviewing. He genuinely had this belief that if he got any undergrad degree that he could pick through a number of different fields and pretty much immediately make a similar salary.
randomguy
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by randomguy »

MrKnight wrote:
randomguy wrote:
rgs92 wrote:Just for reference, in Megacorp-Telecom IT in the NYC area, experienced IT programmers or analysts are offered about $40 to $50/hour and are hired as contractors only with no vacation, no paid holidays, no paid-for benefits or 401K match. Overtime is often unpaid.
And these jobs are difficult to get with about 10+ applicants interviewed for each opening.
This is from actual personal experience from me and many friends. The salaries are about the same as they were 20 years ago (in actual dollars, not inflation adjusted.)
It is always amusing how worlds differ. I was making 86k/yr as programmer (vacation, benefits, no SE tax, options,...) with 3 years of experience 20 years ago. And salaries have only gone up and up. Tech and programming is a broad field. The compensation can vary greatly between the different branches.

All of these salary surveys and the like give mixed results. For example wouldn't you say investment banker is a high paid career? This has the national average at 100k: http://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/inves ... KO0,17.htm .
How much are you making now as an programmer?

Also in who's world is 100k not considered a high paid career? The irs defines highly compensated employee as someone making $115k salary a year. By making $65k a year you are already in the top 10% of the population in terms of salary. I think some folks have an unrealistic perspective on salary or are so far removed from the ordinary population that can't imagine why anyone would be making that low of a salary except for incompetence.

About 10x as much as I left to start my own company a while back. And yes I know I am well off the top end of the curve and that the gravey train will end some day. The more realistic numbers was getting to ~140k in salary, 30k/yr in bonuses, + options that I had after ~12 years of working. Of course those numbers are like 7 years out of date at this point. I have friends that told me things have gotten crazy over the past couple of years but most of them have moved out of direct programming and are now director type of positions these days. And no none of those companies want average programmers. They a want the top 10%.

And yes it is all relative. How often do you read about teachers complaining about pay despite salaries well above the national average with shorter work years and great benefits. In this context if you made a list of jobs where 300k was reasonable, I am guessing most people would list investment banking as a reasonable option. The point of that post was that even in that field, a lot don't make it. Neither will law despite the tons of lawyers making 300k. The only place I could see the minimum for fulltime work being close to that level of compensation is some of the medical specialities or some specific niche (if you only look at the salary of people that make partner at a big law firm, jumbo jet captain) . Other fields you can get up there but in general you are going to have to be exceptional. How exceptional (top 1%, 20%) is going to depend on the field. And it should be pointed out that the bottom of the barrel surgeon is still pretty exceptional.

The other trick to getting family income up to 300k is to marry well. The number of jobs that pay 150k/yr is orders of magnitude more than the ones that pay 300k.
Wricha
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by Wricha »

First the average full time physician in the US makes more than $187k (Peds maybe the exception). The average sub specialist is well above $300k (Peds sub speciality may be the exception). That is my experience working with 1000s of physicians over 30 years.

Healthcare administration in a big system are commanding many salaries per system that are 7 figures. Go on line and look up the 990 tax form for not for profits and they list the top 10 salaries. You will see many 7 figure jobs. And consultants to those systems are doing equally as well. And the top physicians in those systems are doing equally as well. Sales folks
that sell to these systems are do equally as well. The lawyers that are associated with these systems are doing equally as well.

Hope that's helps there are a lot of people in healthcare in many fields doing very well.
cb990z
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by cb990z »

oliveoiltycoon wrote:Specialized tech workers in the bay area can make 300k-450k in total compensation pretty reliably if they are top candidates at a company with stock doing well, even if they are not particularly senior. More senior top specialized tech workers will often break 500k. The catch is less than half of their total compensation will be base salary, the rest will be vesting RSUs that have to be refreshed so they have to keep performing very well and the company they work for has to keep doing well (and of course the stock needs to not tank).
Bingo. This is spot on.

Nexflix is a notable Bay Area exception in that they do mostly salary and make the RSUs / bonus component a much smaller factor of the total compensation picture. Consequently, you can see this reflected in H1B salary data (which does not include RSUs and bonuses):
http://data.jobsintech.io/companies/netflix-inc/2015

So you see a lot of Senior Software Engineer salaries in the 300-350k range, and that tends to track closely to total compensation for rank and file at places like Google, Facebook, etc. where their base salaries would be lower but with more bonus+RSUs. And then at such elite companies the top 10-15% or so are hitting 1.5-2x that (and up, of course). People often see base salary figures only and don't quite get a sense for the rest of the story.
bb
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by bb »

Realizing this thread has been somewhat high jacked - does anyone care to
hazard a guess on what % of software developers in the US are making
$250-$300k ? I am not talking about what google is paying, or facebook -
what is the median salary, what salary puts you in the top 25%. If
I was looking at what a profession paid I would not be asking about the
top 1% or the top 10%. And to be honest I would not be talking about
anything other than what compensation is is reasonably durable - not
sure stock options would meet that criteria over the next 10 years.
User avatar
Garco
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by Garco »

I made a pretty good salary as an academician -- $150K-$200K in last years prior to retirement, using 12-month salary not 9-month which is more common. But one of my kids makes more than $100k per month, with just a BA degree. Works in media.
randomguy
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by randomguy »

Wricha wrote:First the average full time physician in the US makes more than $187k (Peds maybe the exception). The average sub specialist is well above $300k (Peds sub speciality may be the exception). That is my experience working with 1000s of physicians over 30 years.

Healthcare administration in a big system are commanding many salaries per system that are 7 figures. Go on line and look up the 990 tax form for not for profits and they list the top 10 salaries. You will see many 7 figure jobs. And consultants to those systems are doing equally as well. And the top physicians in those systems are doing equally as well. Sales folks
that sell to these systems are do equally as well. The lawyers that are associated with these systems are doing equally as well.

Hope that's helps there are a lot of people in healthcare in many fields doing very well.
Surveys tend to disagree: http://www.medscape.com/features/slides ... iew#page=3 Other surverys I have seen put out similiar numbers.

Note that there is trend to think these surveys (no matter what the industry) under report income. I wouldn't be surprised if the survery suffer from selection bias to some extend and I know my experience with people in the field suffer the same problem. There might be other reason why numbers skew lower (i.e. people working 32/hr weeks, training level employees, less than market rate positions chosen for personal reasons,... )

If I had to pick one career that pretty much guarantees a high paying job it is definitely being a doctor. A huge chunk of that is they weed out the riff-raff early on. For example, the bottom 50% of programmers (probably higher. And I don't mean some bad programmers wouldn't have made better doctors.And some great programmers would be horrible doctors. I am talking about on average) wouldn't have gotten in or made it through med school. And that goes for pretty much any other field (law school, bussiness school,...).

Those top level admins definitely do well. But that is true in any business. Figuring out how to get to the top is always the hard part:)

Sales is another good field to get rich in if you are that top. From the plaques on my real estates agents office, it was clear she was making 400k+/yr in commision for the past 10+ years. But the average agent clears less than 1/10th of that.
bonn
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by bonn »

MrKnight wrote:
Crow Hunter wrote:
zaboomafoozarg wrote:
new2bogle wrote:Engineering is good $200k after 10 years for mid level engineers.
I guess I only have 2 years to double my salary. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing this wrong.
More than double mine and I have negative 8 years to do it. I guess I better get to work on my time machine design.

I'm not sure where these guys are getting 200k for mid level engineers at 10 years. What do you define as mid level engineers? Do you mean like middle management?
Go on Glassdoor, select SF salaries for software engineer at Facebook with 7-9 years of experience. The average total compensation is $200k, so if we define "mid level" as "the average at top tech companies in a high COL area", then it seems accurate. Of course most people don't and can't get hired at Facebook, so the typical tech experience is not to get to $200k after 10 years, I would imagine.
quantAndHold
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by quantAndHold »

bb wrote:Realizing this thread has been somewhat high jacked - does anyone care to
hazard a guess on what % of software developers in the US are making
$250-$300k ? I am not talking about what google is paying, or facebook -
what is the median salary, what salary puts you in the top 25%. If
I was looking at what a profession paid I would not be asking about the
top 1% or the top 10%. And to be honest I would not be talking about
anything other than what compensation is is reasonably durable - not
sure stock options would meet that criteria over the next 10 years.
The percentage of SDE's making $250k is probably <1%. Except for a small handful of thought leaders at the elite companies, nobody makes $250k in base salary. To get to $250k, an SDE would have to win the RSU lottery. A more typical (median) salary for a mid career SDE is more like $150k in high COL areas, $100k elsewhere.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
bb
Posts: 325
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by bb »

so if we define "mid level" as "the average at top tech companies in a high COL area"
I guess the rest of the country is just fly-over country. But yes - a legitimate answer - but
lots of caveats that should be mentioned. As has already been mentioned it is like asking
what you can make in finance with one person saying $500k+ (and meaning working on
wall street as an investment banker) and someone else answering much less and meaning
finance job for a more generic company/industry.
Wricha
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by Wricha »

randomguy wrote:
Wricha wrote:First the average full time physician in the US makes more than $187k (Peds maybe the exception). The average sub specialist is well above $300k (Peds sub speciality may be the exception). That is my experience working with 1000s of physicians over 30 years.

Healthcare administration in a big system are commanding many salaries per system that are 7 figures. Go on line and look up the 990 tax form for not for profits and they list the top 10 salaries. You will see many 7 figure jobs. And consultants to those systems are doing equally as well. And the top physicians in those systems are doing equally as well. Sales folks
that sell to these systems are do equally as well. The lawyers that are associated with these systems are doing equally as well.

Hope that's helps there are a lot of people in healthcare in many fields doing very well.
Who knows what the motavations are of the people sponsoring surveys. What I can tell you is you
Surveys tend to disagree: http://www.medscape.com/features/slides ... iew#page=3 Other surverys I have seen put out similiar numbers.

Note that there is trend to think these surveys (no matter what the industry) under report income. I wouldn't be surprised if the survery suffer from selection bias to some extend and I know my experience with people in the field suffer the same problem. There might be other reason why numbers skew lower (i.e. people working 32/hr weeks, training level employees, less than market rate positions chosen for personal reasons,... )

If I had to pick one career that pretty much guarantees a high paying job it is definitely being a doctor. A huge chunk of that is they weed out the riff-raff early on. For example, the bottom 50% of programmers (probably higher. And I don't mean some bad programmers wouldn't have made better doctors.And some great programmers would be horrible doctors. I am talking about on average) wouldn't have gotten in or made it through med school. And that goes for pretty much any other field (law school, bussiness school,...).

Who knows what the motavations are of the people sponsoring surveys. What I can tell you is you; if you open a hospital and advertised that the median salary was $187k for physicians you would be the only hospital in the US with no docs associated with it and private practice would be thriving. Which neither is true in the US.
jpelder
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Re: High Earner Careers?

Post by jpelder »

Crow Hunter wrote:
zaboomafoozarg wrote:
new2bogle wrote:Engineering is good $200k after 10 years for mid level engineers.
I guess I only have 2 years to double my salary. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing this wrong.
More than double mine and I have negative 8 years to do it. I guess I better get to work on my time machine design.
Inventing a time machine would definitely more than double your salary.

I think a big advantage of engineering (not an engineer, but my brother, uncle, and grandfather-in-law are) is that you can make a good salary ($50k-$80k) with only a bachelor's degree. An engineer starting at age 22 with a $60k salary and little student loan debt has a huge head start over an MD starting at age 34 with $200k or more in debt, even if they do make $180k per year.
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