The average American ages 28 to 32 makes $44,000 a year. This comparison may help you feel superior or provide you with a future goal. If you’re looking for more specific comparisons, try this income percentile calculator.

Here are a few questions I often ask myself: How well am I really doing? How much are my peers making? Should I ask for a raise? Am I on track for a healthy retirement?

To give you a baseline, I will list the average income for age groups in five-year increments. If you want more specific answers, visit this income percentile calculator. These numbers are based on the 2013 Survey of Consumer Sciences conducted by the Federal Reserve. The survey took into account household annual income of 206,488 Americans, which was a large enough sample to make this data extremely accurate. When thinking of your income, be sure to include all income — not just salary. Such ancillary income could include side hustles, bonuses, or passive income like dividends.

What It Takes to Be Average

  • Ages 18-22: $13,000
  • Ages 23-27: $31,000
  • Ages 28-32: $44,000
  • Ages 37-41: $57,000
  • Ages 42-46: $61,000
  • Ages 47-51: $65,000
  • Ages 52-56: $58,000
  • Ages 57-61: $60,000
  • Ages 62-66: $51,000

As you can see, there is such a thing as “prime earning years.” Make sure you’re bringing home the bacon between ages 28 and 51. You may earn less in your early years because you’re busy with school and figuring out life. But then you will have a period of life that’s perfect for wealth building. After that, your household income is likely to decline. This can be because of health issues, the economy’s devaluation of your career, or perhaps you will be seeking a greater work-life balance. Or, maybe you decide to retire early.

The Calculator That Relieves Peer Pressure


This income percentile calculator is powerful. It’s powerful because it puts things in perspective. It actually can relieve peer pressure.

At times, I’ll look at a big house in my neighborhood and wonder why I don’t have a big house like that. But, then I see the owner walk outside and he’s twice my age. I’ve realized it’s demoralizing to compare yourself to people much older. Instead, focus on what you’re doing at your specific age. Thinking this way is very powerful.

For instance, I know I’m doing much better than my peers. Why does this give me pleasure? For starters, I’m competitive. But, more importantly, it erases my jealousy for the things my peers buy. I’ve realized that I could buy anything that they’re buying. So why get jealous of someone else’s car, shoes, hobbies, etc.? It just doesn’t make sense.

Top tip: If you ever want to know how wealthy someone is, look at their income streams as best you can. Don’t judge a person’s wealth based on what they own. That’s probably the worst way to judge a person’s net worth.

In Summary

How much do you want to earn each year? By earning just $60,000 annually, you’re doing better than the average American — no matter the age group. That’s pretty incredible. If you feel like you’re below average at anything, make it a goal to make $60,000 per year. First, it’ll show you’re not below average when it comes to income. Second, whatever you did to get there will prove you’re not below average in any sense of the phrase.