Average Salary Information for US Workers

© The Balance, 2018

How much is the average salary for US workers? Salaries vary based on gender, education, occupation, industry, geographical location, ethnicity, and other factors. Here is information on the average salary in a variety of categories, and calculators to use to determine the salary for specific occupations.

Average Salary Information for US Workers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median wage for workers in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2017 was $857 per week or $44,564 per year for a 40-hour workweek. Wages were 0.9 percent higher than at the same date for the previous year.

However, salaries can vary significantly based on both occupation and location. What's considered a good salary in one location may not be somewhere else. For example, people working in professional, management, and related occupations earned an average of $64,220 annually, while those working in service occupations earned an average of $28,028 annually. Jobs in large metropolitan cities, which have a higher cost of living, also tend to pay more than jobs in more rural areas. Read below for more information on average salaries based on factors like gender, education, and more.

Average Salaries for US Men and Women

The BLS reports that for the fourth quarter of 2017, men earned a median average of $49,192 while women earned only $39,988 or 81.3 percent of what males earned.

Race and ethnicity also plays a role in salaries for men and women. For example, white women earned 80.5 percent as much as their white male counterparts, while black women earned 96 percent of their black male counterparts.

However, black men earned a median salary of $35,412, which is only 69.3% of what white men earned on average ($51,064). The difference for women was a bit less: black women’s median earnings were, on average, 82.7% ($34,008) of white women’s median earnings ($41,132). The BLS provides information on Hispanic and Asian wage earners (who earned a median salary of $34,164 and $55,172, respectively) as well.

Average Salary by Age

Salaries also varied by age, but the numbers are different for men and women. For example, men ages 55 to 64 had the highest annual earnings ($58,760). Women, on the other hand, earned the highest wages between ages 45 and 54 ($43,420).

Average Salary Based on Education

Workers age 25 and over without a high school degree had median annual earnings of $27,612 at the end of 2017 compared with $37,128 for high school graduates without a college degree. College graduates with at least a bachelor's degree earned $66,456 annually.

College graduates with advanced degrees (a professional or master’s degree or higher) earned a median average of $77,324. Here's an overview how much more you can earn during your career if you have a college or advanced degree.

How to Find the Average Salary for a Job

When you are evaluating careers or job searching, it can be useful to know what you can expect to make. It can also be a good bargaining tool when you are negotiating a salary with a new employer or negotiating a pay raise with a current boss.

If you know the average salary that others with your job title make in your geographical region, you can use this to show why you deserve a raise or higher salary.

Check out this list of salary profiles for a variety of different occupations, plus links to salary calculators and tools for comparing salaries and discovering how much you can earn.

How Does Your Salary Compare?

Zippia has an interactive tool you can use to see how your earnings compare to other people with the same age, sex, and education level.

Salary and Cost of Living Calculators

There are a variety of calculators you can use to find out what the average salary is for a job in your occupation and location of interest. In addition, you can use a cost-of-living calculator to determine how much it actually costs to live in a specific location.

Understanding the average salaries in your profession and the cost of living in any given area will provide you with the facts you need whenever you are considering applying for a new job or moving to a different geographical region. Here a few of the most-used online calculators:

Glassdoor.com’s Know Your Worth Tool
Glassdoor's Know Your Worth tool provides a free, personalized salary estimate based on the current job market. Provide information on your company, job title, location, and years of experience. The tool will then tell you if you are being paid below or above your market value.

You can also use their Salary Explorer to see how much different jobs would pay based on company, location, years of experience, and more.

Indeed Salary Search
Search salaries by job title, and compare salaries for similar jobs at different companies and different locations. Also check out relevant job listings.

LinkedIn Salary
LinkedIn’s salary calculator provides the median salary for jobs in specific locations throughout the US. It shows the median base salary as well as the median total compensation (including benefits, bonuses, and more). You can narrow your search by location, industry, years of experience, and more.

PayScale Cost of Living Calculator
This cost of living calculator allows you to compare your salary in your current location to average salaries in other locations. The calculator will show you the cost of living difference, as well as the amount you would need to make in the new location to maintain your standard of living.

PayScale Salary Survey
PayScale.com’s “pay reports” will give you the average salary for just about every occupation. You can narrow your search by location, years of experience, and more. You can also get information on average benefits.

Salary.com Benefits Wizard
This tool allows you to calculate your total compensation package (salary plus bonuses and benefits). You can then compare your package to industry averages.

Salary.com Salary Survey
Explore average salaries by location, years of experience, and more. You can also get information on average benefits, and information about the requirements of the job. Salary.com also lists job openings related to your search.