Low-earners- What is your profession?

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Geneyus
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Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by Geneyus »

I noticed there is a thread asking people making over $100k/yr what their profession is. I often read a lot of threads here where people talk about their portfolios worth over $500k at 26 yrs old, asking about buying houses worth $700k, etc. The last one I read was about a 26 yr old, living the college life and receiving $100k/yr from his parents. :shock: Good for him.

My wife and I work really hard. We're currently saving money to pay for a procedure to have our first child. It's going to be expensive. We make under $100k combined. We have no debt other than a house, and our nice house (to us) is halfway paid off. We save money, and we resist buying things we want all the time. We take cheap vacations. We max out two Roth IRA's, she contributes to her work 401k, and I'm earning a pension. I have older siblings who still receive money from my parents. Not me.

I think earning everything we have and working hard to save money for extras makes me appreciate our lives so much more. I'm proud of our happy marriage and successes as a couple.

I'm curious... What are the other "low-earners" doing for work? To me, life isn't about income level, as much as it is being happy and being proud of the life you lived.

I'm a police officer.
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randomizer
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Post by randomizer »

Interested too. Lots of physicians and other 90th percentile earners on these boards, not necessarily a representative sample.
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by livesoft »

My spouse is an engineer and has always made less than $100K a year her entire life and she is still working full-time. I teach. We make under $100K a year combined. We have a kid in college and one launched.
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schoolboyguy
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by schoolboyguy »

I'm an overhead crane technician, making 75-90k/yr. Without a ridiculous amount of overtime I'd make closer to 50k. My wife is an assistant manager at a massage clinic making About 40k. We have no kids (29 & 27) and at times save around 30% of income. On track to become financially independent in our 40's.
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island
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by island »

Well OP why not start by telling us your and your wife's profession? :D
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Geneyus
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by Geneyus »

island wrote:Well OP why not start by telling us your and your wife's profession? :D
I had my profession (police) in the original post. My wife does administrative work.

I may jump over to the private sector in a few years. Without getting too political, the last few years has changed my outlook on doing this longterm. I'm proud of the time I spent doing it though.
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by ruralavalon »

Just for informational purposes, currently the median household income in the U.S. is about $56k.
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by yellowgirl »

I'm an office clerk at the local government and I make 45k. Dh is in sales 100% commission and he made 82k last year or 75k the year before last year. We both didn't finish college and mid 30's. Dh was making very little a few years back. He then realized that he really likes talking to people and enjoy being his own boss so 100% commission is best for his personality.
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by FreeAtLast »

I am retired now, but I never earned more than 100K a year. My professional title was Health & Safety Specialist or, as I like to characterize it, jack of all trades, master of none. I tried to prevent all the calamitous possibilities of modern life from harming employees, in these areas: asbestos-containing materials, lead-based paints, hazardous chemicals and pesticide control, environmental pollution, ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, indoor air quality, fire safety, electrical safety, machine safety, construction safety, site security, and ergonomics, to name a few. Rarely was I bored.

From my first full-time job, I started saving for retirement. Even back in the early 80's, I was worried about the future of Social Security. Vanguard index funds were my salvation. You don't need to be a high earner to obtain a very comfortable retirement. Thank you again, JB. :D
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iceport
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by iceport »

Geneyus wrote:To me, life isn't about income level, as much as it is being happy and being proud of the life you lived.
You got that right!

Before last Friday, I was in between the two groups you mentioned in the OP (high earners and low earners). Now I'm retired, and so I'm a (so far very happy) low earner. 8-)

Keep up the good work Geneyus!
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by RoadHouseFan »

Very good thread! Much more value added than the threads that are always started by the highbrow types.
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by RoadHouseFan »

Geneyus wrote:I noticed there is a thread asking people making over $100k/yr what their profession is. I often read a lot of threads here where people talk about their portfolios worth over $500k at 26 yrs old, asking about buying houses worth $700k, etc. The last one I read was about a 26 yr old, living the college life and receiving $100k/yr from his parents. :shock: Good for him.

My wife and I work really hard. We're currently saving money to pay for a procedure to have our first child. It's going to be expensive. We make under $100k combined. We have no debt other than a house, and our nice house (to us) is halfway paid off. We save money, and we resist buying things we want all the time. We take cheap vacations. We max out two Roth IRA's, she contributes to her work 401k, and I'm earning a pension. I have older siblings who still receive money from my parents. Not me.

I think earning everything we have and working hard to save money for extras makes me appreciate our lives so much more. I'm proud of our happy marriage and successes as a couple.

I'm curious... What are the other "low-earners" doing for work? To me, life isn't about income level, as much as it is being happy and being proud of the life you lived.

I'm a police officer.
Thanks for your service. Our household wholeheartedly supports the police.
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Pinotage
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by Pinotage »

Geneyus wrote: I'm proud of our happy marriage and successes as a couple.

To me, life isn't about income level, as much as it is being happy and being proud of the life you lived.
:sharebeer

Cheers to you sir, you've got it figured out. Everything else in life is gravy.

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TravelforFun
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by TravelforFun »

Fortunately, what you earn doesn't determine how wealthy you can be. Spending less than what you make and investing the difference wisely over a long period of time along with choosing the right lifetime partner are the ingredients you want to to have.
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Post by heyyou »

Retired after 30 years of delivering packages, highest annual income was $68K. About a year after getting my first house, I was laid off for 6 weeks, barely keeping the mortgage paid. I thought "never again" so I lived below my means from there forward. When the pension credits equaled our spending level in our low cost of living (LCOL) small town, and we had 20 multiples of that in savings, we both retired. In the first decade since then, our portfolio reached the two comma level, then fell below it dozens of times due to no further contributions. Pension plus Social Security at age 70 will cover all of our necessary expenses. We have enough.
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Post by J295 »

OP..... thanks for starting this thread. Really appreciate your service .... one of many noble professions!
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Post by Whit »

I teach. My household income is nowhere near 100k. If 100k was a ballpark, I would not even be in the parking lot. But I love what I do and we do just fine.
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by yellowgirl »

ruralavalon wrote:Just for informational purposes, currently the median household income in the U.S. is about $56k.

Opps, just realized we are not low earners combined. It feels like we are because we spend so little.
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Post by stoptothink »

While we now makes several times the average household income, combined we didn't break $100k in household income until 2 years ago. We both just celebrated our birthdays, I turned 36 and she is 31. Two years ago we were both in the non-profit sector, I was a program director in public health and she was a program manager in employment services. I had a PhD and nearly a decade of experience and was making <$70k/yr and had hit the glass ceiling, she was managing a team of ~20 and making about half of what I was. We both moved into private industry and literally overnight increased our income by 50%, and it has increased another 50% since.
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Post by mindboggling »

Retired now, but I was a broadcast technical maintenance engineer for one of the television networks in NYC. Base pay when I left was about 90K + overtime. Sounds like a lot of money but this for for a job in Manhattan (HCOL area). Housing and everything else is very expensive.
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Post by Cheyenne »

My wife and I are free-lance musicians and private music teachers. We set our own hours and value our freedom very much. We operate near the bottom of the 15% tax bracket, have everything we need in the way of material goods, and are quite happy. I read and participate in this valuable forum to manage our modest savings, and I thank everyone here for sharing their knowledge experience.
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Post by Loik098 »

What an awesome, refreshing thread. OP, thank you for your service.

When I first graduated from college back in the 2000s, I was a high school teacher teaching Chemistry and Physics in a private school. My salary was $17,750. I had to deliver newspapers in the morning before school and work 3 jobs during the summers to make ends meet. Did this for ~3 years before deciding I wanted to start a family. I returned to school and became a pharmacist.

I have not and will never forget what it can be like to be a "very low earner", and try to do what I can to appreciate those in public service.
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Post by corysold »

I deliver the paper for $23,000/year. My wife is an elementary teacher.
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Post by dipsylala »

stoptothink wrote:While we now makes several times the average household income, combined we didn't break $100k in household income until 2 years ago. We both just celebrated our birthdays, I turned 36 and she is 31. Two years ago we were both in the non-profit sector, I was a program director in public health and she was a program manager in employment services. I had a PhD and nearly a decade of experience and was making <$70k/yr and had hit the glass ceiling, she was managing a team of ~20 and making about half of what I was. We both moved into private industry and literally overnight increased our income by 50%, and it has increased another 50% since.
stoptothink, thanks for sharing your interesting story. PhD + 10 years + director only makes less than $70K.
If you don't mind me asking, what made you choose non-profit in the first place? What made you move to the private industry? Is it most for the money (please don't take this as an offensive question, I am a firm believer of looking out for number one)?
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Post by Rainmaker41 »

Gross income: $11k in 2014, $22k in 2015, and $34k in 2016... in a high cost of living city. Things picked up partway through 2016 when I started making about $40k annualized as a Finance Associate for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Before that I worked through a temp agency. Whenever I feel like I wish I was more accomplished, I try to remember how things were for me a couple years ago; the trend is upward after all.

My struggles out of college have definitely shaped how I approach spending decisions. I still only spend around $800 a month. Thus, I maxed 2015, 2016, on schedule for 2017 Roth IRA so far and have about $9k in my pre-tax 403b; call it 30% gross savings rate of my cumulative income.
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by angelescrest »

ruralavalon wrote:Just for informational purposes, currently the median household income in the U.S. is about $56k.
This is a pretty humorous thread. Folks making just under $100K calling it "low-income"? Our family makes much less, and we aren't low income. Please change the title.
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Post by BD. »

I work in the financial services industry and make $60k. My wife recently stopped working to care for our 4 month old daughter. We still live below our means even more now with the one salary.

I'm glad others have picked up on the incredible amount of high earners on this site. I can only dream of earning some of the figures I've read the last couple of months. It's nice to know that there are some low/mid earners out there that can't max out their 401k every year like myself.
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Post by livesoft »

angelescrest wrote:
ruralavalon wrote:Just for informational purposes, currently the median household income in the U.S. is about $56k.
This is a pretty humorous thread. Folks making just under $100K calling it "low-income"? Our family makes much less, and we aren't low income. Please change the title.
I agree with the above statement.
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Post by vitaflo »

dipsylala wrote: stoptothink, thanks for sharing your interesting story. PhD + 10 years + director only makes less than $70K.
If you don't mind me asking, what made you choose non-profit in the first place? What made you move to the private industry? Is it most for the money (please don't take this as an offensive question, I am a firm believer of looking out for number one)?
I'm not stoptothink, but I did work in non-profit world for 8 years, making $40k. I certainly wasn't there for the money. The people and projects I worked on were amazing, and I loved every minute of it. I too went out into private industry (started my own biz actually) and this was mainly because there was no way we could reach our financial goals with the non-profit gig. This was especially true because I knew I could make a lot more if I left.

And while that turned out to be very true, my non-profit gig was way more interesting than what I do currently, even with me being my own boss. This is why I would never fault anyone for staying in a lower paying career if they really love what they do. The income I have now is nice, but it ain't everything it's cracked up to be...
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Post by jharkin »

randomizer wrote:Interested too. Lots of physicians and other 90th percentile earners on these boards, not necessarily a representative sample.

Actually a lot of 99% percentile folks on here - including those mentioned MDs.

90th is $160k household on the latest 2014 data - many on here well beyond that number.
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by Tamales »

livesoft wrote:My spouse is an engineer and has always made less than $100K a year her entire life and she is still working full-time. I teach. We make under $100K a year combined. We have a kid in college and one launched.
I thought for sure you must be retired, given all your posts here. Are you close?
What type of engineering job makes well under 100k after lifelong (I presume a couple decades) work? Engineering was one of the last professions I expected to see in this thread (unless someone is just starting out). But I guess there are a lot of subsets besides "the big 4" branches of engineering.
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Post by Lynette »

.....
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Post by ddurrett896 »

I was blown away with some of the salaries I've seen here. My focus isn't as much on the $$ figures but how it relates to spends.

For example, a guy making $500k living in a $2mm house is doing worse in terms of mortgage vs salary than a guy making $60k living in a $180k house.
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Post by MrNewEngland »

I'm a Civil Engineer with my PE and I've never made over $100k. I'm in the mid-$80's right now.

To be fair I'm a bit of an underachiever but I do live in a low cost of living area.
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Post by TreeBeard »

1.) Thanks for your professional work. Strong police support here.
2.) Inspiring to hear about the financial work you and your wife are doing. Much more so than a kid talking about the money his parents gave him.
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Post by livesoft »

Tamales wrote:
livesoft wrote:My spouse is an engineer ….
I thought for sure you must be retired, given all your posts here. Are you close?
What type of engineering job makes well under ...
Civil Eng, P.E. more than 35 yrs in the business. Women don't always make the salaries of men.
I teach very part-time.

@Lynette, no special benefits over the years except some low matches in 403(b) and 401(k) plans and subsidized health insurance.

We seem to have a lower spend rate than many families.
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Geneyus
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by Geneyus »

angelescrest wrote: This is a pretty humorous thread. Folks making just under $100K calling it "low-income"? Our family makes much less, and we aren't low income. Please change the title.
The thread title came from the opposite thread I read earlier, where someone asked about professions making $100k or more. It's a fine thread, I just wondered about the opposite. Where I live, $100k is pretty good living. Part of my reasoning for posting was that I read thread after thread of very wealthy people asking for advice, and I think the "lower earners" (meaning: on this website, not in society) are often quiet, reading along. Of course, there are much lower incomes where we all live. We're all fortunate to be here discussing our discretionary spending and retirement goals.

I appreciate the positive comments. I'd also like to say thank you to the teachers and other service positions who have posted. There are many thankless jobs.
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Post by flamesabers »

ruralavalon wrote:Just for informational purposes, currently the median household income in the U.S. is about $56k.
That's roughly what I make between my job as an account and being in the army reserves.

As others have said, I think income level is very subjective. Wealth isn't just about income. Your level of debt and cost-of-living are important factors as well.
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by stoptothink »

vitaflo wrote:
dipsylala wrote: stoptothink, thanks for sharing your interesting story. PhD + 10 years + director only makes less than $70K.
If you don't mind me asking, what made you choose non-profit in the first place? What made you move to the private industry? Is it most for the money (please don't take this as an offensive question, I am a firm believer of looking out for number one)?
I'm not stoptothink, but I did work in non-profit world for 8 years, making $40k. I certainly wasn't there for the money. The people and projects I worked on were amazing, and I loved every minute of it. I too went out into private industry (started my own biz actually) and this was mainly because there was no way we could reach our financial goals with the non-profit gig. This was especially true because I knew I could make a lot more if I left.

And while that turned out to be very true, my non-profit gig was way more interesting than what I do currently, even with me being my own boss. This is why I would never fault anyone for staying in a lower paying career if they really love what they do. The income I have now is nice, but it ain't everything it's cracked up to be...
I went into it, non-profit/public health, because I thought I could make a difference. I had started my career working as a collegiate and professional strength coach and nutritionist, then decided that I could use my knowledge and passion for health/exercise/nutrition to help a lot more people. I only started exploring other opportunities when I realized that I was really making no difference at all. I eventually felt like I was a politician; promising change to people who acted like they wanted it, but in reality we were all full of hot air and nothing was ever accomplished. I became very jaded about the people I was surrounded by, IMO a lot of them were definitely not as altruistic and serious about helping others as they tried to make it seem. My wife went through the same thing.

FWIW, my job in private industry is not only a lot better compensating, but I get to reach way more people. I feel exponentially better about what I do (chief health and exercise scientist for a health megacorp) and it is way more fun. Like vitaflo, I don't fault anybody who stays in a low-paying career because it genuinely makes them feel good, but it didn't make me feel good (for long, at least).
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Post by Sunflower »

Law office support staff in San Francisco, $60k-ish ($15k or so additional in company contributions/bonus). 55, single, no children, lifetime renter (rent control!), 401k millionnaire. Won't be retiring in CA.
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Post by mindboggling »

For those of you who feel that 90K in Manhattan is big money...I got news for ya. It's not.
It's not even middle-class.
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Post by TheTimeLord »

mindboggling wrote:For those of you who feel that 90K in Manhattan is big money...I got news for ya. It's not.
It's not even middle-class.

''Measured by median income, Manhattan and (especially) Brooklyn are much poorer than you think. Manhattan's median annual household income is $66,739, while Brooklyn's is a mere $44,850. Its less fashionable neighbor, Queens, outearns Brooklyn at $54,373 per year.Jan 9, 2014
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by Ron Ronnerson »

Geneyus wrote:I noticed there is a thread asking people making over $100k/yr what their profession is....

I'm curious... What are the other "low-earners" doing for work?
Great thread. I responded in the high income thread as well since I make over $100k/year (and my wife earns about $50k per year) but I feel I should respond to this one too since you didn't define exactly who you consider to be a low-earner.

I'm a public school teacher in Silicon Valley. While my income of $101k may seem like a lot to some, it should be taken into consideration that the median home price in the neighborhood where I teach is 7 figures and the first digit is not a "1." Context matters.

It's sort of nice to be able to post under both high-earner and low-earner. Thanks for the opportunity.
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Post by PhysicsTeacher »

In my everyday life I don't feel that my husband and I are low earners, but on the Bogleheads we qualify as such. I teach physical science, chemistry, AP chemistry, and physics in a tiny, high poverty rural high school. My husband is a journeyman electrician. Our combined annual gross income is in the $70-80k range depending on how much overtime he works and how many extra duties I take on at school.
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Post by JFKtoSFO »

Echoing comments that it's not about what you make, it's about what you keep.

I'm in the public sector and I make about 1/6 of what my spouse does (they're in one of those careers mentioned on the other thread).

However, when we were dating and showed each other our finances, I was WAY ahead because I believe in LBYM.

It took years, and a complete lifestyle change but spouse has almost caught up to me, the "low earner". :beer
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by *3!4!/5! »

angelescrest wrote:
ruralavalon wrote:Just for informational purposes, currently the median household income in the U.S. is about $56k.
This is a pretty humorous thread. Folks making just under $100K calling it "low-income"? Our family makes much less, and we aren't low income. Please change the title.
I think the OP is making an alternative thread to these ones

"High Earners - What's Your Profession?"
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=130487
"What career helped you become wealthy?"
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=215291

Also I'm sure on this forum, median household income is well over $100k per year, and median net worth is over $1M. (I think I saw some old threads with surveys showing this.)

Of course people with high five figure salaries are merely relative paupers compared to median Bogleheads, but not compared to the US generally, and especially not compared to the world generally.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anyway, if you want a profession where being top 0.01% barely gets your foot in the door, but you won't even be in the top 25% of earners in the general public, then try Academia.
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by Traveler »

I make more than $100K and replied on the other thread, but I spend as if I make $80K or less. It really comes down to that - how much one spends. Granted, it's easier to save more with a higher income because a lower portion of gross income is needed to cover necessities. I'm often impressed with people on here with high savings rates on relatively low incomes.
student
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by student »

*3!4!/5! wrote: Anyway, if you want a profession where being top 0.01% barely gets your foot in the door, but you won't even be in the top 25% of earners in the general public, then try Academia.
Yes. This is definitely true. I have posted this link before but I think it is worthwhile to post it again. http://data.chronicle.com/ You can look at the data for almost every college. However the data are not discipline specific. According to another set of data which is only available to subscriber gives some discipline specific data in the US. An assistant professor in traditional science and math earns about mid-60's. An assistant professor in the humanities make even less and he/she probably has student loans. By the time he/she starts a career, he/she will be in his/her 30's. But of course, one has the freedom to work on projects that one likes and the work schedule is flexible. Salaries for professional school professors are much higher.
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zaboomafoozarg
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by zaboomafoozarg »

angelescrest wrote:
ruralavalon wrote:Just for informational purposes, currently the median household income in the U.S. is about $56k.
This is a pretty humorous thread. Folks making just under $100K calling it "low-income"? Our family makes much less, and we aren't low income. Please change the title.
It's low income for this forum. Median net household annual income in the 2015 survey was $150k and the average person was a millionaire before age 40.
kjvmartin
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Re: Low-earners- What is your profession?

Post by kjvmartin »

Law enforcement. Salary capped at about $65,000.

kjvm.
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