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Ask the Readers: Is it possible to earn $90,000 in salary by age 30?





There is a debate on Canadian Money Forum about teens expectations of earning $90,000 per year by the age of 30. The debate stems from an article in the Moneyville and it appears the argument is fairly balanced.  Moneyville surveyed over 3,000 recent Canadian high school students, most of which were planning post secondary education, about what their salary expectations were in 10 years.  On average, the students expected to earn about $90,000 by the time they were of the age 28 or 29.  Lets round to age 30 as it’s a nice round number and a milestone age.  Adjusting for 2.5% annual inflation over the 10 years, and it’s buying power of about $115,000 in todays dollars.

Reading through the thread on Canadian Money forum, I was surprised at how many believed that it was unrealistic to achieve such a salary by the 30 year milestone.  Yes, $90k for a 30 year old is above average, but it’s certainly achievable by making the right choices and by thinking a little bigger.  To me, if the goal of the student is to have a higher than average salary, then create a plan and go for it.

I know many 28-30 year old’s who make low six figure salaries by making particular career choices and/or by enduring a bit of sacrifice.  One sure fire way is to find a career in the oil patch.  From my own experiences, an Engineer in the Oil and Gas industry can certainly make six figures with a bit of experience.   Although the lifestyle typically involves a fair bit of travel, the compensation is typically higher than average.  I also have friends who are pharmacists, and they can make $50/hr in the retail environment relatively easily.  Other career choices with higher salaries  include trades that are in demand, dental hygienists, or commission based sales positions.

What are your thoughts? Is it realistic for a young student to expect to make $90k by the age of 30?





143 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. 1. Michael

    I recently turned 30 and my salary is about $95k. I’m an officer in the Canadian Forces, and while this isn’t a career for everyone the salary and benefits are excellent. I also completed my undergraduate and graduate studies and obtained my Professional Engineering lisence at no cost to me. So yes, $90k by 30 with no debt is entirely possible.

  2. For 90% (or more) I don’t think it is realistic at all.

  3. 3. Paul Thomas

    Personally, I had the same ambitions as a teenager. However, at the age of 26 with a BASc. in Mechanical Engineering, an MBA (both from UofT), and in pursuit of the CFA designation, I am finding it hard to find a job, let alone start my career. In addition, the burden of my student loans will make obtaining my savings goals much tougher.

  4. 4. Shaitan

    Possible, yes. Likely, no. I’m 28, making about $85k and looking to break $100k with bonus this year. This is due only to a very lucky opportunity within financial services in the past few years which pushed me up from mid $60k. Prior, I was able to make successive jumps in salary every few years hopping between IT companies, with progressive experience since graduating college.

    Out of college (age 21), I made $35k. So +50k in 7 years is incredible and i recognize that’s not the norm. The current salary (and probable future growth), was entirely unexpected and well beyond my wildest dreams. So, while I have it, I’m using the opportunity to pay off as many debts and save as much as possible.

  5. 5. bs

    There are ways to do it. Most careers start off low, and gradually increase in salary over many years. Pharmacy is not like this. Once licensed, pharmacists start just a few dollars per hour bellow the norm, and increase over 3-5 years to be making the same as someone in the profession for decades well before age 30. In saturated markets like Toronto this may be 75k, but outside of Toronto, it is 90-120k. For someone who is responsible and starts saving aggressively for retirement right away, this is a great career choice, even if they don’t make quite as much as other professions might in the years closer to retirement, when compounding on savings doesn’t matter so much. This is especially true for hospital pharmacists who, while at the lower end of the salary range, also tend to have an incredible defined benefits pension. For those who are ambitious and want to increase in pay range like other professions, the risk of owning a pharmacy carries the potential for great financial reward. I’m not a pharmacist, but all the ones I know are living pretty well in their 20′s!

  6. 6. Rob

    I’m 28 years old, and a Police Officer for the Ontario Provincial Police.

    I planned since age 16 to make this my career, and, with overtime, I plan to be making in the 90k range by the time I’m 30. It’s a realistic goal, and a career that’s extremely rewarding. Thanks FrugalTrader, been following you since 2009! I’ve had no financial backing since age 18, and I have a crippling student debt from a double major program in University , but I stay frugal and budget appropriately.

  7. Well, I’m already 30 and I know my salary is nowhere near that number. But, I do definitely think it is possible for those people who make good choices, enter a high demand or risky career, and have a little bit of luck.

  8. I did it (but only if you adjust for inflation). I think it is only a realistic goal for a minority of people. But it doesn’t hurt to aim for a goal like this as long as you don’t acrifice too much to get there.

  9. 9. Steve

    I had a similar goal when I was in high school (about 1995). I planned to go into engineering and make $100K per year within 5 years of graduating. I based this on salary postings in the Toronto Star career classified. Network Admin postings were well north of $100K. I figured an engineer should do even better. When I entered university, (1999) engineers were getting big salaries and signing bonuses. Well, post Nortel-Bust, salaries for IT and engineers have come way down since then when adjusted for inflation.

    That said, I think obviously it depends on the job, and not necessarily on the education.

    If you become an Air Traffic Controller at Pearson straight out of high school (no post secondary requried) you will easily make well over $100K including over time within 2 years.

    If you have a engineering degree, you’ll be very hard pressed to make over $100K (in base salary) by the time you are 30.

    If you have an MBA you should make > $100K.

    If you are a real estate agent, or comissions sales person, you could easily make over $100K.

    If you really want the big bucks, just go to the US.

  10. 10. nobleea

    Starting engineering salaries out here in Alberta are about 70K. Depending on when you graduated, over 90K is very achievable by 30. No travel or work in remote places. Calgary or Edmonton, which compared to Vanc or TO are bargains to live in. Even more so when you consider the relative income.

    We recently tried to hire co-op students. There were 450 co-op students available and over 800 positions. I wish the media would shed a little light on how hot the market is out here, all they focus on is doom and gloom.

  11. 11. Chris

    Just to contribute to the debate I did it. Low 6 figures by 29. Currently 31 and continues to rise. Have a B.Sc.A from the US. Returned to Canada and started in the work force by 22. From 22-27 made 16k to 45k NOT respectively, worked in 5 different cities, and enjoyed less than optimal working conditions before landing my current career job.

    It can be done but I have seen many under similar circumstances, in some cases right by my side in the same career and similar progressions, fail somewhere along the way. Some call it luck, I call it will. Can you be “lucky” to have the “will”? ….well, I’d say that’s a matter contoured by your own perspective.

    Good luck to all those currently aspiring and attempting their dreams, just remember, for those in post secondary education, obtaining the degree is not enough, and for those that aren’t, a degree isn’t even required! The paths are limitless.

  12. 12. arof

    mid-80s and am 25 in big four/auditing; i should hit pretty close to 90k this year with bonus.

  13. 13. trevor

    Possible? Sure. But it isn’t about possible. It’s about AVERAGE. As an average, NO the average wage won’t be 90K.

  14. 14. From kits

    yes..graduated from university at 24…been making 100k since 26…just turned 30. Business degree and working in sales…made 120k last 2 years. not bragging just adding to opportunities out there…

    good luck to everyone trying to get there

  15. 15. From kits

    Trevor,

    The average wage in the public sector is 94,000.
    The average wage in the private sector is 46,000.

    work for the government if you want a cushy job with good pay

  16. 16. James

    Yes certainly possible. Certainly not “average” but if you work hard and focus on what you are doing (rather than just grabbing any job you can find) you can easily excel and make an “above average” salary. Having “a plan” certainly helps but isn’t entirely necessary as long as you are willing to recognize and grab opportunities when they come along.

    I’m a young professional. I started working in my field at 23 making around $23,000 a year (internship). I was hired full-time the next year at $33,000. Through hard work, each of the successive years I was able to be recognized for my efforts and make salary jumps of at least $10k each year. At age 28 I left the “employed” world and became self-employed. I now consult in my field and while my income is now more variable, I am now in my mid-thirties and I have been able to pull in well over $100k since becoming self-employed.

    Note however that if you just expect to “coast” into a cushy job you will probably end up working at Wal-mart/call centre/etc. You have to work hard to get what you want.

  17. 17. Brandon

    At 23 I earned 73k (no OT), which was huge for my level of experience and the profession I’m in. Not long after that I took a salary cut when I changed jobs. I basically sacrificed income for stability. In my city, with a stable job, I hope to reach 80k including bonus by the age of 30 (I’m 26 now).

    I think this one all boils down to motivation and location. I know lots of talented people who do not have the drive to get them the salary they deserve. These are the people who hand out boilerplate resumes with nothing special on it and don’t network at all. They end up working at small companies earning a small salary and typically enjoy complaining about their job but never acting on it.

    Location is another huge one. Can IT guys in Winnipeg average the same salary as IT guys in Toronto? Are you willing to move to get the salary you desire? Do you have the drive to compete in a more competitive market?

  18. 18. Alex

    Not without some hard work/will power and some luck. At 29, both my wife and I aren’t there yet, but will be shortly. Me at $70k and her new governemnet job at $82k. But both of us are licenced professional engineers, who chose our summer jobs well, and are willing to go the extra mile to produce quality results.

    That being said, 5-6 years ago, we were able to get jobs for when we graduated. Those first jobs only paid less than half of what we make now, but we got the experience that we were able to grow with. Never expected to be ‘given’ a high paid job like some classmates of mine.

  19. 19. Tax CA

    Depends on the career field – but absolutely possible. I’m 28 and will make 180k this year including bonus / some consulting work. I’m a CA specializing in taxation.

  20. If they’re forecasting enough inflation to make that they average maybe they should go into economics :)

    I wouldn’t go so far as to call it unrealistic, but I don’t think the plans supporting that statement will typically live up to expectations. Or they may not be qualifying it by saying they’ll need to have living expenses of $50k with no spare room.

    But it’s not just students that have a wild imagination. How many people have reached 60, have barely planned their finances, and expect a retirement that looks like a TV commercial starting in a few short years?

  21. 21. Plan to Succeed

    I would say yes, depending on your choice of career, test-taking skills, interviewing skills, and experience. Of course, smarts and good timing never hurts =)

    Between the ages of 23 and 36 my salary has ranged from $27K to $130K, excluding bonuses or benefits. I have gone through 3 career changes and went back to school twice since getting my BA in Economics. Each time I graduated I realized a doubling of my base salary. Before I entered university at 19, I pretty much lived at the poverty line.

    I don’t know if I am providing an atypical example, but I must say that it is possible if you are wise with your time and money.

    If you “plan” to succeed, you will succeed =)

  22. As someone on the wrong side of 30 I can say that is takes great timing and being in the right situation to get to those levels.

    What other people have mentioned is that to get to that level you need to have a career plan from high school. I see so many people taking degrees and education or travelling for a year but I see it doable for the top 10%.

    It also depends on your location (willing to work in remote locations their are more opportunities for large paydays).

    Honestly, it is important to have a stable job and income because by then you will want to start to settle down.

  23. 23. jesse

    If over half of graduates earn over $90K by 30, it’s worth asking what inflation would be. Sure on an individual basis it’s possible to earn this much, and many do, but in reality very few will get there, the macro situation would never allow it.

    Pointing to jobs in Alberta is good, it’s far from clear that level of salary will be around in the next 20 years if population redistributes.

  24. It’s possible if they have the right attitude. My friend is a chartered accountant working in the tax department of PwC (auditing firm.) She makes $80K and is only 25. Of course she did work hard to get to where she is today. I on the other hand had little focus in highschool, graduated with an average transcript. In grade12 I expected to make $40,000 by the time I was 30. But luckily, at 21, I got a job after college making $35,000. And today, in my mid 20s, I make over $40,000 so I feel very fortunate considering how high youth unemployment is right now. I expect my salary to be $60,000 when I’m 30. If I had more motivation in highschool, I think I can pull off $90,000 by 30.

  25. 25. sharp21

    Been there done that. The key is to get into a field that will actually make you a decent wage, rather than spend 4 years getting a degree that doesn’t qualify you to do anything.
    S.

  26. 26. greg

    I was about $80k by age 30. I have an undergrad degree and work for a big publicly traded Cdn firm. Now closer to $100k at age 36. If you keep pushing forward you can do it. Average will probably be closer to $50k, and even that is no guarantee.

  27. 27. Darcy

    I made 72K as a IT Consultant for a Consulting Company when I was thirty. That was over 10 years ago so if calculate inflation that would be a bit over 90K today so I think it’s definitely achievable if the ambition is there but it’s not going to just be handed to you.

  28. 28. Subversive

    I make around $120k as an IT consultant at age 36, working ~30 hours per week. I’m operating at a pretty senior level, but even intermediate IT contractors make $35-$45 per hour in the Calgary region. Clearly do-able by the time you’re 30, just gotta choose the right industry/career/location.

  29. 29. That Guy

    I did my BSc at University of Alberta in civil engineering co op. I worked relevant civil engineering/construction jobs for my work terms which worked out well when I graduated in 2008. The economy was in the dumps and by February, much of the graduating class did not have jobs lined up. Contrast that with the graduates of 2007 who almost all had jobs lined up by about the same time.

    As soon as I graduated I took a job with the government paying in the mid $50′s, 2 years later at 26 I’m making over $70K salary, and will hit close to $90K with OT etc. Also with the government, you are pretty much guaranteed a 5-10% pay increase every year until you hit a ceiling.

    I’d say if you are in Alberta, and you replicated what I did, you would have an 75% chance or better of making $90K by the time you were 30.

  30. 30. Bob

    It is ridiculous.

    One only needs to compare “average salary” by “top 10 jobs (or industries) by number of employees” to see that the vast majority of people do not make $90,000, never mind most people below the age of 30.

    Is it possible? Sure.

    Is it a nice goal to have? I guess.

    Is it a realistic assumption upon which to base projections of your standard of living? Not even close.

  31. 31. Bob

    It is also ridiculous to use readers of this blog as appropriate “case studies” from which to draw a general conclusion.

    Readers of this blog have, by and large, been self-selected as folks who are already highly successful. Clearly not the average.

  32. 32. Chris

    ^Bob,

    “Readers of this blog” I believe are also representative of a large group of people who are TRYING to be highly successful IMO.

    Cheers

  33. 33. Bob

    “Readers of this blog” I believe are also representative of a large group of people who are TRYING to be highly successful IMO.

    Well, I guess it depends what you think of as “successful”, but my impression is that few people reading and posting here are living off of minimum wage (or even making less than the mean annual salary).

  34. 34. Bob

    I guess what I’m saying is:

    The Median annual salary of HOUSEHOLDS in Canada is less than $90,000 in every single province (NWT is the only exception).

    This means, by definition, that fewer than half of households (noteven individuals) are making less than the figure of contention here.

    To turn around and say that $90,000 is a reasonable expectation for a 30 year old individual — even for those who “make good choices” is ridiculous.

    Possible? Of course.

    Realistic? Only for a very small subset of the population

  35. 35. Bob

    Trevor,

    The average wage in the public sector is 94,000.
    The average wage in the private sector is 46,000.

    work for the government if you want a cushy job with good pay

    This is a pretty lame use of statistics. If you want to compare Government vs Non-Government salaries, at least compare salaries for the same job.

    There are no minimum-wage burger flippers or Walmart Greeters in the Public Sector, which means simply comparing an overall average salary is apples:oranges — meaningless.

  36. 36. ssssss

    I started at 30K in the Visual Effects industry, at age 25, with 20K in student loans. After 6 years I was debt free and making 100K/year. Hard work and sacrifice in the early years pay off!

  37. 37. krantcents

    I think it is reasonale, but it depends on the individual. If it is a goal, the individual can do all the things necessary to reach the goal.

  38. 38. ZZZZZZZZZZz

    I am highly educated, but when I got to the real world that did not matter. I discovered that the interviewers noticed my lack of communications skills and I came to the realization that I was not going to be successful as a white collar worker. I always believed I should of taken a skilled trade. I think communication skills plays a HUGE part on your earning ability.

    That being said, it is possible to make 90000 by 30 depending on where you live and what type of work you do. I know oilpatch workers with only high school education make over 100000 and engineers who make less than 50000.

  39. 39. Calypso

    Yes, it’s possible. I was making over six figures by the time I turned 30 as a freelance writer, and I did so by avoiding a traditional educational path and instead striking off on my own after CEGEP. I managed to do this despite popular, uninformed opinion that writing is a dead-end career that condemns one to poverty.

    Honestly, people who tell other people that something “isn’t possible” are simply people who are too afraid to try and risk failure on their own. That has become abundantly clear to me in business, and in life. Who are we to stomp on someone else’s dreams? How dare we chastise teenagers for dreaming big?

  40. 40. consultingpharm

    It is possible – but not for everyone. I am a pharmacist and took 7 years to get my education (3 yr undergrad and 4 yrs in pharmacy at UofT). Need to have the right mind set, dedication and intellectual ability. I made 90k as soon as I graduated and now mid 6 figures as a consultant – profession doesn’t encompass only the Shoppers and hospitals it’s quite dynamic. As a previous comment suggested the profits can be quite large depending on the amount of risk willing to take – again though not everyone can do it and I don’t believe would be considered the “average”

  41. 41. The Doktor

    Of course it is! It’s not easy, but it’s possible. Being in the top 25% of Rotman or Ivey MBA program will help you land that job in consulting or i-banking – first two years from top tier in both expect $180-260K all in. I know a handful (and stress, handful) that were earning over $1M in top tier consulting firms in downtown Toronto before age 30. No, I’m not kidding.

    But it’s all at a price – it’s your decision to decide to play. Sacrifice – 80 hrs+ at business school a week; 80 hrs+ during your first two years. In consulting, get ready to be placed in the backside of nowhere unless you can get your way into financial services where your company bills you at $450/hr and you see a quarter of that.

    I’m sure there are many ways in medical services running your own practice you can break $100K also. The price is (a) # hrs (b) stress (c) travel (d) sustainability.

    TD

  42. 42. Jolayn

    I am an engineer working in the oil patch in Alberta. I am 30 years old and my base salary is $96K. After taxable benefits and bonus I am in the $110K range. I work 8-5, no OT, hardly any travel, and I don’t live in a remote location. Many of my friends are in the same situation as me, so I’d argue that $90K by 30 is definitely achievable.

    One point I’d like to add to this discussion is that University degrees aren’t always the answer to making more money. There are many trades that are in extremely high demand, especially in the oil industry, and people in these areas make more money than I do. Having said that, these same people also work longer hours on a less predictable schedule.

    My wife, for example, is in the trades. She also works in the oil patch and her base salary is about $85K. After OT, bonus, taxable benefits, shift differential, travel time, etc, her overall compensation is more than mine. In fact, the only year my T4 was higher than hers was the year she went on maternity leave!

    If making $90K by the age of 30 is one’s goal, my advice is to go to university if you want to be a professional (doctor, lawyer, engineer, architect, but NOT a teacher). For anything else, go to college and learn a trade. There are exceptions to this, but I think it holds true for most people.

    Great topic. Thanks for posting.

  43. 43. Steve

    Although it is possible to earn such a salary by 30 I think it is wrong to encourage someone to focus entirely on salary (which only a small percentage will achieve anyway, but no harm in trying). I’ve been in the workforce over 20 years (yes I make a good salary) and have worked with no shortage of useless twits who got into my line of work for the money, and then the stress they’ve had trying to hold on to it. Better advice is to focus on career satisfaction and a field/occupation in particular – you’d be amazed at how well the money will follow you when you do something you really like.

  44. 44. Aaa

    This seems a sort of pointless thread but I’m bored so I’ll play along. I made $600k in the year I turned 30, and my close friend made nearer $750k. We both have technical degrees and work in financial services. We work very hard and have had a great deal of luck in our careers.

  45. 45. Dr. STAN

    We all know it’s possible. That’s not the point. The point is that these kids hoping for $90K salaries are in for a rude awakening. Smart and ambitious young workers can work their way up as many commenters have, myself included. But a lack of work ethic/education/initiative/raw intelligence/effort/good career choice (pick one or more) condemns the vast majority to low earnings. These kids will be sorely disillusioned when they get entry level jobs at $36K with no benefits. Ouch. And that’s the other part of the equation. People concentrate on salary, but should look at overall compensation, including all benefits and pension.

  46. 46. MP3

    “Trevor,

    The average wage in the public sector is 94,000.
    The average wage in the private sector is 46,000.

    work for the government if you want a cushy job with good pay”
    ____
    that’s pretty unfair, and would love to see your stats on that – which public sector are you comparing? Which jobs? Considering that many jobs in the public sector require higher levels of education and professionals than many jobs in the private sector, I’m not surprised that in a number of cases the jobs pay more. Considering that a number of public sector jobs require the holder of the job to put their life on the line (soldier, firefighter, police), I figure the higher pay is compensation for the fact you might lose your life at work.
    As for the subject at hand, young people might be able to earn that if that is their goal by entering into fields that are in demand. The trades (but be prepared for cyclical downturns and periods of layoff or no work when the economy is tough or the oilpatch runs dry), health care (except caring for the elderly which we tend to insist be done by low wage care givers for some reason), and then of course there is the good old financial industry where you can be bonused for bringing down the world economy…but that’s another story.

  47. 47. laketown

    I graduated as a pharmacist at 26, and immediately made over $100k. I live in southwestern Ontario, like a previous poster mentioned wages in Toronto are generally lower. Many new grads will take a contract of 2-4 years to work somewhere a company needs a pharmacist in exchange for a healthy signing bonus and higher hourly rate.
    The schooling needed is not for everyone. You need to be able to trudge through a minimum 6 years of university and be able to stomach a ridiculous amount of debt (if you put yourself through school like I did.) But with that wage loans can be paid off fairly quickly.

  48. 48. canucktuary

    Depends what you want out of life. I made a lot of sacrifices and worked my butt off since high school. Some people in my cohort want to enjoy their 20s and don’t expect to work hard until they start raising a family in their 30s.

  49. 49. amigo1

    “Trevor,

    The average wage in the public sector is 94,000.
    The average wage in the private sector is 46,000.

    work for the government if you want a cushy job with good pay”

    So many people are disputing this but seems pretty right on as far as I’m concerned. As a 27 year old civil engineer, starting salaries in Ontario at least seem to be about $50k with a raise of about 3% per year My father is also a civil engineer and was making more money than I am at the same age. You can say that I should relocate, work harder etc, but the truth is that salaries in the private sector in engineering haven’t gone anywhere in 20-30 years despite inflation. Too much competition. On the other hand, someone with a few years experience at a major municipality, regional government, OPG, Hydro1, Bruce Power etc. could easily make over $100k by the age of 30. I’m not sure why these are so out of sync. And I also don’t know why some people on here are taking the above comment as an affront on government workers.

    And you can’t say that working overtime is the solution, most EIT’s and Engineers are on salary. I worked about 500 hours overtime last year and I got a bonus for it….but it’s all within the law to not pay any overtime or extra money on top of your salary for “professional” workers. It’s a surprise if you’ll get any bonus at the end of the year at all (like the movie Christmas Vacation?). Engineering in the private sector is overly competitive in Ontario unless you have a government job or go to an oil driven local economy.

  50. 50. Dave

    I am self-learned in my field. I make $65K base + $8K bonus at 26. Working hard and raising a family now so we can enjoy things later. I expect to jump to $80K base in the next few months with a promotion.

    I think that quoting average salaries is an exercise in futility. How about the average salary of working families – excluding both welfare and those that derive their wealth mostly from investments.

    $100K in K-W or Toronto goes just as far as $80K in parts of Niagara.

    I’m less concerned with how much I am making, and with how much of what I make goes to the basics such as food, shelter and clothing. Right now we pay $1450 rent for an apartment that is substandard (but still immeasurably better than $800-900 slums in the area). It is somewhat expensive at my current income.

    So rather than say “how much do you expect to make”, it makes more sense to say “what percentage of what you make do you expect to spend on food? on reasonable, safe, comfortable housing? on clothing?”

  51. 51. canultant_ns

    I agree with the opinions above – certainly possible, but not probable/guaranteed.

    I’m 30, earning 70k as an IT consultant in Nova Scotia. NS seems to have lower salaries compared to Toronto/Vancouver/Oilpatch etc, where I’m sure I’d be able to earn 90k plus.

    I would say that location has the biggest impact on this for most professions (excluding big earners like docs/dentists/lawyers – I’m thinking you’ll break 100k in those anywhere in the country).

  52. 52. Greg

    600k. What value did you add to the economy to earn that? The financial services industry is the only place that seems to find a way to filter funds to individuals like this. That money came from somewhere, and I suspect they wantit back!

  53. 53. bluenoser

    This is totally possible, but requires some luck and strategy! I graduated with a BBA at 21, and was making 6 figures by the time I was 24. My goal was to crack 100K by 25 and 200k by 30, both of which I achieved. When I graduated, my starting salary was 44k/yr plus bonuses. I was able to increase my salary though promotions and company changes every 3ish years. I concur with others who said an oil patch job in Alberta certainly helps!

  54. 54. Chelsea

    Sure if your male, are single and don’t really have many commitments – the sky is the limit. For the rest of us who are not engineers, network admin’s, MBA graduates, doctors or lawyers or wanting to work 90 plus hours and freezing our eggs but have a BA and experience – well welcome to the paper pushing, secretarial admin or coordinator post… i’m there now and my success trials were not for a lack of trying either nor working hard. P.S. after 15 years of working my behind off and getting a coveted undergraduate degree with a double major i’m only making 40k and that’s only 5 k more than what I was making 5 years ago before I got my supposedly prestigious degree. So no, I don’t believe it’s possible for all… only the select few.

  55. 55. Calypso

    Chelsea – let me get this straight: you are saying that only men can earn $100k by the time they are 30? I’m afraid I can’t agree with that. I also think it’s extremely self-defeating to say that a bachelor’s degree leads exclusively to the three positions that you mentioned. I’m sorry your life has not gone the direction that you wanted it to go, but there are thousands of people who achieved far more than the future you have outlined, with far less in terms of education or experience. You don’t have to have a professional degree to earn a six figure salary, nor do you have to have 15 years experience in your field.

    I am afraid that your post is a perfect example of the “I couldn’t do it, so no one else can” mentality that I referred to above.

  56. If you’re doing a really good job at something people really need, they will find a way to work with you regardless of who you are. Some don’t, but you can move on and let them drive their business into the ground. An employer who thinks everyone will stay for 10 years (especially anyone under 40) is ignoring the evidence so the fact that you may or may not leave the job in 2-3 years for whatever reason doesn’t set you apart from everyone else in many cases.

  57. 57. jbearr33

    It’s possible, especially if you are willing to move and take risks. As a father with children in school I have to take into account how my career affects their lives as well. While I don’t believe in never moving because of the kids, I do believe that moving every year for my career can make things more difficult on my kids. My responsibilities are beyond myself, so earning that $90,000/yr isn’t my number one priority the way it was a few years ago.

  58. 58. Sarlock

    As mentioned earlier, I know a wide range of people who make over $90k/year and while some of them chose specific educations to reach that earning potential, others are uneducated (some didn’t even graduate) but became specialized and dedicated to their fields and the money followed. Certainly choosing the correct career path can have a massive impact on your earning potential. Choosing a career path that flattens out at 60k/year is a great way to work your way up to a 60k/year job. Choosing, instead, to be a lawyer, will vault you into a much different salary range. On the flip side one must be ready to devote the time and energy to the job and have the affininty to do the job well and most importantly ENJOY the job. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, you will likely have trouble working your way up the salary ladder as you will burn yourself out in the process. A lawyer buddy of mine makes over 400k a year but he *hates* his job.
    For my part, after dropping out of university, I went to drive a rig, worked my way up to 60k/year and realized that I was at the top of my income potential and that if I didn’t want to stay there I needed to redirect myself. At age 26 I started doing a correspondence accounting program, got an accounting job at 31 making 28k/year and it took 6 years to work myself up to making over 60k/year again. Then I pursued my true passion, using the money I had saved over the years of working and the accounting and business education I now possessed, I purchased a small business and built it up over the past 3 years and now enjoy an income that is 10 times what I capped out at as an accountant. It wouldn’t have been possible to build the business to what it is if it hadn’t been for all of my past experiences. I enjoy every single day that I work and the money becomes so easy to earn, it just seems like it drops in my lap without any effort now. Just work hard and enjoy what you do. If you’re a smart, capable, hard-working person with good communicating skills, you’re 75% of the way there. Add an education to that and you’ll make a ton of money.

  59. Possible? Definitely. I achieved that when I was 30. Averaged? Not realistic.

    You are essentially asking if by 30, the average can be 115K in today’s dollars and I don’t think that’s realistic. If you were asking 90K in today’s dollars then may be in some fields but you would need to segregate by fields and not generalized.

    Youngsters have great goals but unrealistic expectations but we’ve all been there right :)

  60. 60. Ty Webb

    I made $180k when I was 29, never finished college.

  61. 61. buff_butler

    I’m 29 yrs old in IT, 92k salary and 15k incorporated income

    There were a few comments from smart people above that I can relate to:
    -You have to be willing to jump jobs and possibly move cities
    -You have to love/be passionate about what you do

    As for:

    “The average wage in the public sector is 94,000.
    The average wage in the private sector is 46,000.”

    This is a really misleading comment and I don’t even think that top number makes sense. If they have it so good then why not sign up?

  62. 62. Ryan

    Im 25 yrs old working as a power engineer in oil and gas in alberta. Last year I made $138,000 ( includes Shift Premiums, OT, and Bonus) – working 7 days on 7 days off.

    Is it possible to make 90K by age 30. Yes, but you have to focus on your career and make the right choices. Sadly if you are an unmotivated individual, the goal of 90K a year by age 30 isnt going to happen. You have to make things happen and not expect things to be handed to you.

  63. 63. uptoolate

    As pointed out, not too many 30 year olds are going to make it to 90k/yr. Unless StatsCan’s statistics are totally bogus. And don’t think that going into medicine is going to get you to 90k by age 30. Virtually the only doctors that are out in practice by age 30 are Family Docs and they don’t get up past that in terms of pretax take home pay that quickly. MDs doing specialties aren’t going to get out into practice by age 30 since they are looking at 12 years of post-secondary education. And of course, then they have to get out from under the 100k+ debt that they have generated in getting to graduation.

  64. 64. math

    I don’tunderstand why you say it’s 115K in today’s dollars, it’s either 90K in today’s dollars if kids were thinking of earning an equivalent to 90K, or 70K if they are thinking of making nominal 90K in 10 years. Either way it’s doable

  65. 65. alfred

    31 year old engineer with only 6 years experience with office job in oil & gas and earning $150k to $180k depending on bonuses. So it is definitely achieveable. In oil & gas with 10+ years experience you can go consultant instead of employee of the company and earn $1500 to $2000/day. There are many expats in our office earning this tax free (over $400k/year).

  66. 66. phos4ic

    It’s not just possible, it’s actually pretty straight forward if you put some effort into it.

    You can make $90,000 in most trades by age 25, let alone age 30.

    Sadly a lot of people go to university for something not employable and then wonder why they can’t make a decent salary. You have to ask yourself what makes you different from the thousands of other arts grads every year. They can’t all make $90,000+ by age 30.

    I make over $90,000 base salary at age 30 and I’m in civil engineering. We continue having trouble finding qualified candidates.

  67. 67. JasB

    Wow, seems like a lot of folks in Alberta are making loads of money. Maybe someone can help me out.

    I understand this is not a job consulting place, but going to give it a try anyways. My wife is from AB and we are currently living in ON. Due to family reasons, I have been looking for jobs in Calgary, but not having much luck . I have over 10 years of IT experience including last 5 as a Systems Administrator in a mid sized (1500+ users) firm. It seems like most of the firms are looking for local candidates only. Can someone provide guidance on the job market for systems admins in Calgary area? My experience includes MS Servers, Exchange, VMware, and Citrix. Many thanks and my apologise for hijacking this thread.

  68. 68. Ontarian

    It is possible but not the norm. I can say I will make 90k next year provided my bonus is good, and I will be 27 then. By 30, no question i will be in the 100-120 range. I work very hard and followed a path pretty diligently, and I don’t have a rich uncle who got me the job or paid for me to go to the best school.

    But if I look at my peers from before university, I would definitely be somewhere in the top 5-10%. So if an average high schooler survey respondent thinks they will make 90k (in today’s dollars) by 30, they are out of touch.

  69. 69. Adam

    I graduated with a BCS in 2010 at 24. I went to work for the government making $60,000, then $80,000.

    I left to start a company. This lead to a cut in salary to $50,000, which was bumped to $75,000, then $100,000. In two years since graduating, I’m well over $300,000/year in salary and dividends. This doesn’t even take into account the value of my equity stake.

    Yes, I’d say it’s more than realistic to make $90k by 30. Most people look in the wrong place.

  70. 70. Jeff

    When I started out in PR at 23 I was making around $30,000 and living in Toronto. It was rough, but, smart career planning and knowing where I wanted to go got me to a government job that paid $90,000 when I was 31. Plus overtime, amazing benefits, and a pension. I could have stayed in private sector PR and I may be making upwards of $110,000 now, but the safety of govt is great right now. BUT, I had to work my a$$ off to get it – and I dont think kids these days have much motivation at all – they expect evertyhing handed to them. $90,000 by 30 realistic – definitely – but you have to work hard to get it.

  71. 71. KP

    @ JasB

    I don’t know alot about IT even though that’s my husbands business, so other then looking for openings on the big company websites in calgary/edmonton and job search sites like monster etc. you might want to try staffing agencies. That’s where he usually finds temporary IT help, which is required by a lot of smaller companies – they often don’t have enough work for a full-time person all the time.

    I’ll second (or thirtieth) the Engineers in Alberta can make a really lucrative living – but not everyone in my class transitioned from student to engineering career, some had huge troubles getting that first bit of experience. However, now that I have 5+ years, the job opportunities are amazing! As a fourth generation albertan, I’d like to remind you that we live in a boom/bust economy and I hope your stashing that extra to weather the bust when it comes. I have witnessed that a lot of newcomers often forget this.

  72. 72. Ivan

    Public sector jobs are paid more, for those who argue, here is a link to a proper study:
    http://www.cfib.ca/research/reports/rr3077.pdf

    government jobs are paid 20%-40% higher if count pension and benefits.

    So if you are going for the money look for a government job in finance, IT or go to an oil industry. And take a contract if possible, not the full time — you’ll get higher wage and save plenty on taxes.

    I personally work in IT and yes, you can make those money if you are smart, good with people and do your job well.

  73. 73. Q

    Of couse it is! With dedication and goal’s i made $90k by the age of 23 and am currently sitting on $105k by 27. I’ve seen a few people i know who are dedicated like me on the same or even more money.

  74. Great post!

    I think it depends on what field you choose, for sure.

    My boyfriend started off making $33K about 6 years ago, and now he’s at $70K. He was offered another job for $75K. He’s one of those “young people” who aim to make over $100K by the time they’re thirty.

  75. 75. Bob

    This makes you think!!
    I’m 24 and make 50k with bonus in the finacial services industry. I still have to finish my BA in Econ (1yr-ish left)… to be honest im kind of lazy and took a hiatus but after reading some of you success stories im gonna have to tone down the partying and finish this thing. its the only barrier between me and my promotion.

    Keep inspiring us!

  76. 76. Walter

    gosh this is so funny.. most of these people that posted are really hurting themselves.. Its not about what you make its about after tax.
    In comparison my numbers are very different. Since everything that I do is through my corp. I pay myself 100k per year in dividends, my income tax bill last year (2010) was the highest in the past 8 years at 63 dollars. So after income tax, I pulled in $99937.00.

  77. 77. Calypso

    Walter – what does that have to do with the subject of this discussion? Do you have anything to add?

  78. 78. DirtyMoney

    As many people have noted above, at age 27 I have almost achieved the 90 K salary before age 30 (short 6 K). Honestly, salary was never a specific goal for me…It’s possible (but not easy) with the right combination of ingredients : interests, specific skill/knowledge/ education or whatever you want to call it, hard work, location, offer vs. demand for the said skill, etc.

    In my humble opinion, teens should focus on what they want to do in life vs how much they want/think they’re going to make. I personnally think that if you hate your job and don’t feel like getting up in the morning to go to work, salary is the last thing on your mind.

    Cheers.

  79. 79. B

    I grad from dental school at age 27, and I immediately maad 100k a year working 4 days a week. To earn 6 figures is definitely achievable, but one should also focus on balance of life. I know too many older dentists/doctors who work 7 days simply because they want more money. They overlooked the importance of health, family, friends, and etc…

    I like the saying that “some people are so poor, all they have is money”

  80. 80. Future-MoneyBags

    There are a lot of mixed opinions here, I like it! (my kind of article)
    My opinion is that anyone can obtain the opportunity to do whatever they want in life, if they are able to grab onto it before it passes them by.

    You can easily say that someone with a Masters or Doctorate can land a well-paying job and by the time they are 30 (graduating when they are 26-28) they could be making 90k (with 25% average tax rate) but is this realistic?

    By reading all of the responses here, you can see that many different backgrounds led to the people making close to or above $90k. I believe with hard work, determination, and never giving up, anyone can achieve what they want. If you set your goal for ‘average CDN income’ than it will stop at that. If you set your goal for 90k by 30, and STICK to it, you will achieve it. (maybe 80k at 29, and 130k at 32) whatever averages out.

    Also, someone said that everyone posting on here, is obviously a professional and are above average canadian (along those lines). I don’t believe this. This website consists of ‘the average canadian(or other) that truly wants to succeed’ catagory. I dont make anything near 90k, or even near 50k currently, but that does not mean I have less goals for myself.

    One can go into detail all morning if they wish, comparing the average studend debt after just graduating with a BA, or even a Masters, or a PhD, and realize that even if they land a 70k/year job RIGHT out of school, it will take them 2-10+ years to pay off debt.

    Aim for the sky. Set NO limits. Make realistic goals. Change dreams into Goals. May 2012 be successful for you all!

  81. 81. Ian

    It’s totally possible to earn $90k by age 30. I’m 26, and with bonuses my gross income will be $90k this year. I have a BASc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo, and I work as a designer in the high-tech industry – NOT RIM heh heh . I paid off all of my student debt within 8-months of graduation (thank you UW co-op program!). A university degree in the right field goes a long way, and the benefits of networking through co-op experience are huge!

    Good luck high-schoolers!

  82. 82. Rachel

    Hard work, but entirely doable: 25, $160k + bonus starting salary for NY law firm. Graduating Cdn law school with no debt because of part-time jobs through school (actually 100k net equity from home purchase four years ago…).

  83. 83. Mark

    Top quartile grad in EE/CS from 2002. Graduated amidst the glut of IT talent being laid off at Nortel, and despite thousands of resumes sent out, almost no employers gave me the time of day.

    Worked a grand total of 8 months in the past decade at odd jobs, definitely not by choice.

    I don’t know where these folks are finding these $100k salaries in IT and engineering, but the firms that are overpaying certainly aren’t looking very hard for talent out there.

    Lots of perfectly good people are being left behind. People with great skillsets. I hope people reading the comments don’t think that pursuing one type of career, like those listed above, will get them a job at those high salaries. Because it certainly didn’t work out for me, and certainly didn’t work out for most of my EE/CS/ECE engineering colleagues.

  84. 84. JustSomeone

    I’m almost 40 now. At 30, I was around $105K, and actually had been at that since age 27. No debt. More like right place at the right time (dot-com days).

    Then salary stagnated between $105-110K through age 33 as an individual contributor in an IT role. IT is a good place to make money when you are young but by the time you get to the 30s, my experience seems to be you stagnate. I changed careers at age 33 and this fiscal year (age 40) should clear about $230-250K.

  85. 85. A

    I think it’s possible but takes hard work and a lot of dedication. I graduated from a Canadian Optometry School last year. I’m 28, work 30 hours a week with a 4 day work week and make $140K. I agree with “B” above…I love what I do and definitely love my free time.

  86. 86. kyle

    I’m 24 making 250k a year, so yeah it’s possible

  87. 87. Spencer

    Absolutely, I’m 19 and I should be making about 70k by the end of this year as a railroad conductor. By 21-22 I expect at least 90, if not more once I become an engineer. It’s all about the choices you make in life.

  88. 88. ryan

    88. Ryan

    I was interested about this topic. I am 28 now and was offered a 110k salary. By the way I’m from other country and will be moving to Calgary with my wife. Will this 110k be enough for the two of us? While reading the posts here I was under the impression that 90k is already good salary. But how about for a for two person in todays 2012 economy? Can we live a somewhat better life with this?

  89. 89. designey

    I did it. I’m a designer, and this year at 27 I made 93K. Designers typically don’t make that kind of money, but I’ve just always known I wanted to make that kind of salary. I think if you put your mind to accomplish anything you can do it. I’ve also been completing an MBA on the side. That said, I do consider myself extremely lucky and wonder if this opportunity I have could be taken away from me any day.

  90. 90. Teacher

    Someone mentioned “get a professional degree (but not teaching!)”. As a high school administrator, I can say that a teacher in our district with 5 yr degree and 10 yrs experience (so early 30′s) makes $95 K plus benefits. As an administrator, at 35, I am over $105 K plus benefits and expect regular salary increases.

    Gotta say that it’s a ton of work and I don’t think most know the pace of work that teachers must keep up to. It’s definitely different than the downtown pace in the oil company towers!

  91. 91. SST

    Wonder what union workers would get paid without a union?

    I have both a union job and a gov’t job (two separate entities).
    The union job pays 35% more than the exact same job in the private sector; the gov’t job earns 65% more than the private sector (all befits incl.) — thanks all you tax payers!

    As teaching is both a union and a government job, it’s no wonder they are paid on the scale they are.

  92. 92. repenttokyo

    Are you suggesting that teachers are underpaid? Or that somehow, their jobs aren’t important enough to command an impressive wage?

  93. 93. KV

    At 22, I’m making $75K base salary with up to $10K in additional bonus opportunity. I live in the Greater Toronto Area and I also work 37.5 hours a week on the dot. There are a ton of great opportunities for software engineers in this market. By 30, I should be at $140K if I stay with my current company.

  94. 94. Nr21

    Chartered Accountant, age 25, with salary + bonus of $106K per year. Totally doable.

  95. 95. Vancity IT geek

    pre-sales IT consultant, just turned 7, making 85k base with ~6-8% annual bonus. So yes I’m at that mark.

    friend in oil&gas industry working as surveying earns ~100k with lots of OT.
    it’s a matter of choice between 1. white collar job with lots of sh** to put up with or 2. blue collar job with lots of OT and tired obdy

    It’s doable but let’s not kid ourselves. It is a SMALL population (ie. <10%). And for people doing it under age of 30 (ie. <5%), probably even smaller percentage.
    Only people who ARE doing it leave comments here.

  96. 96. DDLion

    I’m 24 and am roughly 2 years out of college with a Bachelor’s Degree from a ‘southern ivy’. After several internships in my college years working in affordable housing, I was able to get an internship for this consulting firm that is based out of state.

    They hired me on a 1099 at $15/hr or 30k/year and I set up my own LLC for tax purposes. Within 4 months I was promoted to $22/hr, then a month later $30/hr, then 6 months later $45/hr, and when our consulting contract was renewed I went up to $75/hr + per diem travel expenses. This put my total compensation at $144k + $45k in expenses or about $190k/year. I could not believe how much money I was making at the age of 23!

    Full disclosure though, people ahead of me kept getting fired so I began filling in for them in a ‘sink or swim’ work environment, and my new responsibilities always become permanent.

    I’m stressed out as f*** and am always in fear of getting fired (so my savings account is huge) but I’m hanging in there. I should also say that my cost of living is very low compared to most people on this board–even with student loans, rent, etc. I spend about $1200/mo. I maximize my retirement account to avoid taxes and pay myself a tiny salary from my earnings, so I think myself and my LLC should have a million or so in assets within the next 6 years at an 8% annual return (If I can remain employed)

  97. 97. Jake the snake

    I made $90,000 my first year in the car business at the age of 22. Though this is significantly above average it goes to show you that it is possible. I only have a secondary education but did attend university for a year. I thought to myself..why go to university for 4 years and come out with debt just to make $35-40k per year? So yes it is very possible

  98. 98. Tyrone

    I’d say it’s unlikely for most people, but possible. You have to be smart (don’t need to be a genius though), find the right career, and work your ass off (you’re in your twenties after all). I make $120, but I’m 38. I’m an IT consultant in the Oil & Gas industry. There are one million reasons why one should go to the university, but making money is definitely not one of them.

  99. 99. Jason

    Interestingly enough, in my circle of friends, everyone is already or will be over 90k by 30. We are all engineering grads or CAs typically, mostly having worked in consulting (deloitte, Accenture, cgi), project management, or finance/auditing (kpmg, EY, pwc etc). Everyone were avg students in university, the really top guys I know are all making 120k+.

    When I say everyone I do mean literally all my close friends. What’s interesting is that although we all have different career paths and work across diff places ranging from gov to private companies and crown corps to consulting or audit firms, we have very similar backgrounds. For example, we all went to uoft/schulich/Waterloo etc. I didn’t come to know my friends through industry or work either, but rather high school, sports teams etc. My point is that there may be a formula to hit 90+ by 28-30 based on what I’ve seen, just get 90+ avg in high school, go to a top university for business or engineering, then find an entry level Job in the big consulting or audit firms, work crazy for 3-4 years and climb 1-2 levels (they have very structured progression) and then go into industry and get a manager lv position. That or go into gov or crown corp right out of UNI, starting salary will be high, will easily make it to 90 in 4-5 years.

  100. 100. John

    I guess I’m outside the norm. I’m from Alberta and went to NAIT for computer engineering tech. Not even a degree; worked for 2 years at around 40k, then started with a small company in oil and gas doing electronics. Transitioned to senior software dev and at 23 am making about 110k after bonuses and per diems. A lot of travel, which isn’t bad as I don’t mind travelling.

  101. 101. SST

    A friend of a friend is a construction foreman in the Oil & Gas industry.
    Early 30′s, zero post-secondary education (zero student debt), 12 hour days, nets $180,000 a year.

  102. 102. jkn

    i have a finance and math degree from a regional school in the US. i have been earning 65K and about to have 4 years of experience i graduated college when i was 25/26.

    i think going to a better school is important for the career opportunities and advancement recognition by the employees you will be working with (at least in business)

    i know a lot of engineers that are my age making 100k with just an undergrad in engineering…

    seems like mba is the way to go for me sucks that i have to spend 100k just to increase my salary by 40k but it will be worth it with the upward mobility

    business is different then engineering or tech – you can advance in engineering and tech with hard work and recognition by what you know

    in business its all about the organization and opportunities that arise. you cant switch from company to company to break into 100k as an undergrad in business because you will look like a flake so if you are hired at a certain rate and the organization doesnt promote (economy sucks) you are stuck at that rate for a good year or two…

    every field is different – this is my two cents

  103. 103. SST

    @jkn: “you cant switch from company to company to break into 100k as an undergrad in business because you will look like a flake…”

    Not true.

    I have a friend who is an electrical engineer (Bach); his career is selling computer systems to large businesses, schools, etc. He is in his early 30′s, earning well over $100K, and very much in demand. In the past year he has worked for three companies — one for barely a month before another firm poached him with an exceptional offer.

    That’s the way business works, Capitalism at its finest(?).

  104. 104. Wade

    I make around 90k at the age of 23….But, it really depends what you are willing to do with your life.

    All the people in here that are from Alberta and work O&G are usually neglecting to point out that you have to sacrifice a lot. You can make over $120’000/yr working in O&G doing grunt work, yet you spent twenty one days of your month living in a remote work camp.

    You really need to think about what you’re willing to sacrifice, you can make good money and live in the city if you play your cards right.

  105. 105. Dhad

    I am 25 graded from university with ba in economics At age of 22. Parents paid for my uni education and covered my living expenses. I got into real estate at 23 and have earned over 650k a year ever since.

    Real estate requires large amounts of capital but the reward is big. Realtors working for me are earning from minimum 5k to 20k a sale on units ranging from 295k to 700k.

    Point I am making is that it is possible to make 6fig salaries and the best way to get there is through real estate.

  106. 106. Spencer

    I am 20 recently graduated Power Engineering. Based in some rough numbers I should make $95-105K this year. This job is not for everyone, shift work messes with your body and social life. But I am 20 and already make a very good salary for most of Canada.

  107. 107. tyler

    im only 21, i make almost 115k a year as an electrician in the oil patch, not based on salary, i get paid hourly and work a ton of overtime, usually a 16\5 shift. looking to apply to start power engineering 4th class online to help benefit my success in the oil patch. by the time age 30 rolls around, almost guaranteed 200k plus.

  108. 108. Dave

    I hit over 100k by age 28, and I am now 31, and I make even more. I own my own buisness, and since I own 100% of it, I can say that corporate profit is my earnings, as well as my Salary, so I make around 350k-450k a year.

    I fully expect that in 2-3 more years I will surpass 500k a year. I would be shocked as I am expanding my business to include other franchises, and start-ups. Sure some will fail, but I consider that cash sunk.

    I rent/Refuse to buy a property to live in (it doesn’t make economic sense) I can funnel the money I would be paying for a mortgage towards new business ventures. So far It’s Paid off.

  109. 109. SST

    Congrats, Dave!

    Know that the majority of true millionaires are created through business ownership, you are well on your way!

  110. 110. steve

    I am a mechanical engineer in Ontario. In my first full year of working I made over 90k and in my second full year of working at 25 made just over 105k. So yes it is definetely possible.

  111. 111. WG

    I am 23, Business degree started a job 45k + around 13k bonuses (58k) + benefits at 22… Paid off student loan in 4 months (thank you co-op program in uni!).. Switched jobs and now at 60k + 20k (80K) bonuses & benefits… and side online business 10k -15k annual = Totaling around 90-100k.

    If I can do this at 23…. 30 at 90k is possible, but not typical– I worked my ass off! Knew what I wanted in highschool and did alot of networking and jobs to get to where I am..

  112. 112. NAIT student

    Definitely possible. I took Petroleum Engineering in NAIT a 2 year course, this course opens a ton of doors in the Oil and Gas industry. Immediately upon graduating in at 21 had offers from service companies but decided to wait to get on with a producer. I started on at 65k/yr salary and withing 3 years was up to 110K/yr this was 2 weeks in a camp and 2 weeks off at home. At 24 I changed companies for a better opportunity and a better schedule and at 26 now, I am currently still at this company doing one week in camp and one week out, with this company i gross $180-190k depending on OT.

  113. 113. sam

    im 22 and making 100,000 a year. and this isnt someone bs’ing to look cool or anything like that. as long as you have the mindset to make that paper you can do it but if you live that 9-5 life knowing that your making between 30-60 per annum your only hope is annual salary increases of 2-8% depending on the field. this year alone over 9 months of work working 12 days a month MAXIMUM (although i was on the road often enough) i pulled in 96,000 (im in pure commission insurance sales btw), and through another idea that i had and created a consulting agreement in which if this person had taken my advice and leased a certain unit for the sake of their business they would owe me a consultation fee. between me and my business partner it came out to 130,000, subtract 15k commission for the broker that was neccessary to keep the deal legal. we came out with 115k, the difference is , the average anyone would take that money and either spend it all on stupid things or shelter it in a silly way. i know alot of professionals that dont even have retirement funds of that value, but instead we decided were going to put the FULL 115k into a commercial property that we would then rent out. whether 115k is 30% of a down payment or even 50% were putting in the FULL value because thats how you make money. you aggressively pursue every potential money making option there is. and no one can say that its because i make money that the side deal was available because the reality is that it cost me 1000 dollars out of pocket for lawyer/accounting fees. the diff is that i went after it.

  114. 114. 6figures

    If you know what you are doing, and know how to play the corporate cards, making 100+ before 30 should be easy.

    If you own your own business, it should be even easier.

    put all the real life example together…

    If you excel at what you do, and you know how to market yourself making 100K is the easy part. the harder part is continuing to grow your salary beyond the typical incremental increase.

  115. 115. Matt

    I’m 29 and employed as a dentist. I made slightly over $300,000 this past year.

  116. 116. FrugalTrader

    @Matt, do you own your own clinic?

  117. 117. IMO

    I am an engineer in the oil and gas industry in Alberta. I have a Master in Engineering, but I have quickly come to learn that the time I spent in school was a setback to my career. The fact of the matter is that there is a shortage of workers in Alberta for this industry; therefore, the salary for engineers in this industry in this province is astronomically higher than the salary for engineers in other industries in this province. Due to he high demand for workers, the easiest and quickest way for you to make the big bucks is to get a 2-year certificate from any trade school and get a job in the oil and gas industry as soon as possible. In two to three years, you will be making as much as someone who spent years in school for their engineering degrees. The return for your investment in your education is way higher if you just minimize your time in school and maximize your time in this industry.

  118. 118. livewire

    I’ve read most of the posts, and agree that it is an attainable goal, although a little luck along the way definitely helps. I started down the academic, university path, but later switched to a trade. I worked as an apprentice electrician for 5 years, and made around 30k a year. I’ve since attained my electrical license and now work for a gold mining company in northern Ontario, Canada. My base salary is about 120k, and with a few overtime shifts here and there it will likely be closer to 140k. And the best part? Because of my 7 days on, 7 days off schedule, I only work half of the year. It’s an amazing career, but one I just kind of fell into. I suppose that’s my point, that you can have a plan, but sometimes a little luck can make all the difference! I’m 28 years old, soon to be 29.

  119. 119. Odin

    Whoever said Government pays well and is “cushy” is not exactly right.

    I am 27. I have a government job. It only pays 25k net and is not my career of choice, and has absolutely *zero* chance for growth. What it does offer me, though, is a fully customizable schedule that takes very little time from my week… which is why I kept it: it allows me to pursue my ambitions.

    To support myself further I had invested in my own business. And, like 90% of businesses, I lost more than I gained, unfortunately, because of a combination of bad luck and poor choices. Almost my entire savings were gone… and now I am starting again but doing it because I love it, and accepting that my path is unique.. just like yours.

    The point I wish to make is that nothing is a guarantee and there are many failures on the road to success. It is possible to earn that much, yes.

    Pick high-paying careers and network, network, network.

    There are two options:

    Do what you love, and most likely make less.

    or

    Do something you can tolerate but what pays, and have the financial freedom to do what you like in your off-time.

    No choice is correct. It is a combination of hard work and luck. I have friends with doctorate degrees and a few with MBAs who surprisingly earn less than I do. And I currently earn less than 40k.

  120. 120. Benjamin

    I disagree with your options. I do what I love and make far more money (over six figures before the age of 30) than I did working at something that was also lucrative, but not my passion.

  121. 121. Pam

    It’s definitely achievable. I’m currently 18 years old, and I have a low 6 figure salary. Sometimes you have to go beyond the loop of doing the norm and studying to find a good job where you’ll have to work for someone else. This is not how you do it. Work for yourself.

  122. 122. Andrew

    I just turned 31, so going back a year I made $116k. I am an engineer with an MBA in a management position. I started out in 2004 at $37k and have had the good fortune of advancing my career and not need to go to Fort McMoney or any other oil sands to make this money.

    My wife is the same age and is an optometrist, she makes between $95k and $125k depending on the year, her salary is more variable, but above the $90k mark.

    Having an undergrad degree only would make it very difficult to break the $90k mark, except for programs like engineering, and accounting, but even accounting you need to get a professional designation like CA after the undergrad.

  123. 123. FrugalTrader

    @Andrew, I think it depends on the sector that you are working in. Most of the engineers that I know with only undergrad degrees who work in oil and gas (in NL) have 6 figure salaries.

  124. 124. SST

    I know a person who has a linguistics degree and pretty much right after graduation(~10 years ago) moved to Dubai to teach English.
    He makes an embarrassing amount of money.

  125. 125. Darryl

    Just my 2 cents. I made $110000 in 2012 in my sales career. The key is to work your butt off. The problem with many people is that they think that having a degree will automatically allow them to earn high salaries. I have a college diploma…I apply myself…just do it!

    If you want to make good money, work for it. It’s simple! If you complain about how much you make, stop bitching and make a change.

    And just think…at higher incomes, you can afford rental properties… Earning you a lot of money in the long run….plus giving fantastic tax return potential.

    Happy 2013! I know mine will be good!

  126. 126. Collin

    It’s absolutely possible and it really just depends on how realistic you are, I’m 27 and made 200+ as a nurse anesthetist working around 50 hrs a week which was 4 days a week. As a regular RN I made 90-120 working OT and doing clinical projects etc. Nursing is a great field and nurse anesthesia is possibly one of the most financially rewarding careers in America , another great option is something called perfusion, it’s a bachelors degree with pretty much guaranteed six figures..we pay our perfusionists around 130-140 and they work 25-30 hrs a week…the best bachelors degree hands down. Medical jobs in highly specialized areas pay great and your job is almost guaranteed…even in this economy I was hired before I even graduated…if you care about money then you have to go into something that will realistically pay you a high salary

  127. 127. Jason

    LOL Of course it is possible. I screwed up and did a BSc hoping to get into medicine but now I’m stuck within health sector. I made 75k on my last coop at 22, started my first job at 60k in 2009 (recession) at 23, and then 67k at 24, and I’m at 70k at 27 now…Sad. You can start higher for the same job in government but movement up isn’t quick. But on the other hand your quality of life may be better due to lower work intensity. I program SAS as my job. Also, in my case, I became partially disabled and had a series of ailments starting at 25 so that really reduced my ability to look around for jobs. Also, keep in mind that it isn’t always how much you make, it’s how much you save…I try to save $24-30 000 per year which should be the savings rate of a 6 figure hitter (being partially disabled I still live with parents with most money going to rent and medical expenses).

    Of my friends from Waterloo, all my CA friends are over six figures. My engineering friends are probably close to hundred but probably not over. City planning also over 100 in Alberta but not in Toronto. I think your best bet is hitting up the oil patches because that’s where Canada’s big money is coming from, but also, you have to consider inflation and price levels where you live. While you may make more in Alberta, your living expenses may be significantly more expensive than say, Toronto…Again, financial success will be dictated on how much you save – and of course earning more means that you CAN save more.

    Good luck everyone, though I’m sure this site self-selected a bias high performing sample – just look at statcan salary surveys on what the real population looks like :). Honestly, I know more people making over 90k under 30 than making less but that’s because Waterloo is a self-selected sample having the best engineering / accounting school (mostly because co-op). You can see a few of those heavy hitters in this thread, just ctrl+f Waterloo.

  128. 128. Tony

    90k before bonus – 120k after and I’m 24
    It can be done with a bit of luck but I dont think the work involved is for everyone.

  129. 129. ben

    I am 24 and make 100k as a scheduler, and I only have three years experience. Depends on drive and motivation.

  130. 130. JohnDoe

    As a 23 year old Engineer fresh out of school I made ~60K and eventually (36 now) made 123K last year. When I was 23 I bought a house and rented out 3 rooms and immediately made money on top of my mortgage. I now own two houses with a combined value of about 750K. and am well on to paying off my current home. Assets are everything. My rental properties bring in 40K a year + 123K salary + the value of my homes, its like I’ve been making over 200K since I finished school at 23.

    In regards to a current career path, a friend of mine is 29 and works as a public relations consultant. He owns his own company and last year a client bought him a Mercedes worth 120K. I don’t know what he makes a year, but I can tell you hes very well off and has no post secondary education.

    Dream big and work for your dreams. Believe anything is possible, because it is.

  131. 131. TR

    I am 29, last year I made $125,000 as an HVAC technician. This year should be closer to $130,000. I planned in my early twenties and reached my goals.

  132. 132. Smidgy

    I turned 30 in July, Started my career in Mechanical Engineering in Summer 2005, and at my current job with very little experience in October 2005. Therefore I have not hit the 8 year milestone at my current job. I started out making 35k/annual + upto 10% bonus working Mon-Friday 45 hours/week. Still working the same schedule but have gone through these annual incomes 35k, 37.5k, 39k, 41.5k, 44k, 49k, 54k, 60k, 90k over the years. So I did make it just after turning 30 to 90k, should be mid to high 90′s with bonus. As you can see by my numbers they are very one ended, which came with more exp. Definitely in an engineering field the more you know the more you are worth. Work hard and it will eventually pay off.

  133. 133. Neil

    I’m only 26 but I don’t think it’s possible to ever make that kind of money even when you reach 60. However, if you open up a business, you might even make more. All it takes is a good idea and some creativity. I am a civil engineer by profession but its over 2 years that I cannot find a job in this industry and honestly I don’t think any company will ever give me a chance now. I guess I was the unlucky one. My suggestion to you is to choose a field to study with a bright future and to try to develop your network. The consequence of not doing that is that you will be stuck like me questioning your every decision. Finding a job with an engineering degree is not easy and most undergrads fail to do so. Go out and see for yourself how many people have degrees but they fail to land these high paying jobs. These people are smart but unlucky. The same goes even with an accounting degree. Most of your university friends will move on with their respective jobs and become the most arrogant people you’ll ever come to know. Money changes people. Everybody will look at you as worthless, believe me I know. You have to make the right career choice.

    Right now, I only managed to find a customer service job dealing with cell phones which kills me inside. This is the only future I see for myself. But you can change that, I was just unlucky.

  134. 134. James

    I’m 26, and make a salary of $93k a year.

    This year my stock compensation was about $10k, and my bonus was about $10k.

    So its very possible to make good money at a young age. My advice:

    I’m from Calgary but moved to Texas, working in the tech industry.

  135. 135. Al

    I finished school as a dentist at age 29 after a master’s degree. First 6 months I made 60K. In 2012 I turned 30 – for that first full year practicing I made 218K & for 2013 I’m over 200K and still have 2 months worth of collections due.

    My net worth went from approx -130K to +100K in the past 28 months. And my student loans are paid off as well as 50% of my house.

    I’ll echo the “it’s not how much you make it’s how much you save” line I can spend a ton of money fast if I want to but the key is to plan where your pay checks are going so you can accumulate faster.

  136. 136. Cathryn

    I was wondering about the figures. The dentist who made $300,000
    in one year for example. Is this gross revenue or net revenue.
    Meaning did he earn $600,000 less overhead of $300,000 or did
    he Gross $300,000 less overhead of $150,000.
    Or whatever these figures are to meaningful compare to a person
    who is declaring a salary not a business income.

    Thank You

  137. 137. Al

    I grossed 545K in completed procedures in 2012 and was a paid a remuneration of 40% of completed procedures so 218K before tax. I’m in a province with less than stellar fees per procedure.

  138. 138. Rick Bross

    I am 20 years old and in Kansas City, MO.

    I taught myself many programming languages, starting in early childhood when I was 9 years old.

    I am at my 4th position in the web dev field after graduating high school.

    I have not been to college and I make 90k/yr.

    It is definitely possible.

  139. 139. SST

    Interesting meta-analysis (University of Georgia, 2005) showing the strongest income-correlated factors to be:

    i) “rational manipulation” (political skill)
    ii) education
    iii) cognitive ability

    Not completely scientific nor comprehensive, but helpful if you are shooting for six figures.

    Link: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/227614669_PREDICTORS_OF_OBJECTIVE_AND_SUBJECTIVE_CAREER_SUCCESS_A_METAANALYSIS/file/d912f508aa32181077.pdf
    [CAUTION: automatic PDF download]

  140. 140. ThatIsAll

    90% of the posters in this comment section are liars.

  141. 141. Rick Bross

    I really do make that much… not lying.

    https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=62143958

  142. 142. Johnny P

    started at 36k salary and 6k bonus out of college in 2008 (22yrs old) – I’m now 28, and have a 90K salary and will bring in around 110K after bonus.

    It’s definitely possible, but requires hard work, dedication, and the right field of work (finance), and it’s more likely if you live in a high cost city like NY/SF/LA.

  143. 143. Mark

    I am 27, and an Engineer-in Training in Alberta Canada. I graduated with a Engineering degree in 2011 and did a year of research work for the University for terrible pay ($12.50/hr) (I had started the research a year before graduation) I mainly did this because I have a passion for science and running experiments, financially it was a terrible decision, but I am glad I did it because it helped me get that bug out of my system, if I had not I think I would always have regretted not going into research. I worked absurdly and obsessively hard for the year (my schedule was the schedule of how fast the lab equipment could operate, if that meant the next batch of samples could be ready for next step at 1:30 am, I was there to do it.). For my position I had a great deal of success over the two years, I co-authored 5 scientific papers and international conference presentations, and still feel very proud of my contributions to science and technology and of who I was at that time. I took six year to complete my degree, I had originally intended to take 5 but changes were made to my program by the university without notifying me which caused me a lot of additional class scheduling conflicts and other problems. I ended up getting an EIT position and continued to work extremely hard and long hours, (but much less so than at the lab, at the lab I worked 40- 60 hours a week spread out all over the place and got paid for only 35 of those hours). My EIT position pays me overtime and I work ranging 40- 82 hours a week (precious few 40 hour weeks). I travel all over Alberta, especially to the middle of nowhere in camps. I work out side, freezing all winter and sweating and being like a fish in coveralls on the hottest summer days. I have a pitiful personal life outside of work but make the best of it. I keep the vast majority of my subsistance pay due to using the hotel’s microwave to cook when I am in a hotel, which I have gotten fairly good at and eat healthy. Now, about 2.5 years in, I make $32/hr. last year I was making $27/hr for most of the year and grossed 91K from wages (I was 26 then), I saved an additional about 6K from subsistence pay. I worked very hard in a related field every summer that I was a student and graduated with a net worth of 40K, it really helped that I took a calculated risk and put my life savings into mutual funds back in 2009 when the economy was tanking, I have since kept those funds which are now worth 50k. This year, I have worked slightly less and only expect to gross 87-91K from wages despite my raise. However I still live with my parents, and we get along great, I have full lattitude, they have a huge house, and since I am away so much it really does not seem like much of a big deal. This year I bought a huge ~ 3000 sq ft 3 story duplex, both sides! (and got a really great deal) with my brother and another business partner (we each own 1/3). I really like that I got a great deal on it and that my mortgage rate is 2.99%! Near inflation!. It is cash flowing awesome! Part of the reason we got such a good deal on it is because parts of it were very beat up and there were foundation cracks which caused it to have water damage with heavy rain. But nothing we can’t fix ourselves and do a damn good job of it too (we did do a good quality permanent fix). My dad used to build houses for a living when he was young, and agreed to work on it as an employee to us, every time that I get a few days off from work (often working a 10 and 4 shift now, I used to work 12 days on 2 days off I notify the tenents (they agreed to remain in the house for most of the renovations, lucky me!) and get to work with my dad. So far its going awesome. I am gaining specialized skills in a very high demand field so I expect that I will earn more next year. My net worth right now is 166K. The downside of my life is that I am constantly exhausted, my body aches, I have never had a girlfriend and often feel quite lonely. I am very confident, well spoken, have good morals, so its easy to for me to get a date but for many reasons, it just never seems to progress in that department. Also, many women find me very intimidating.

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