Five steps to six figures in seven years

Historically, “making six figures” has been to income earners what “becoming a millionaire” has been for those tracking their net worths — a lofty goal achieved by only a select few. And while neither a six-figure earner nor a millionaire can bask in the luxury they could a couple decades ago, there's no doubt that earning over $100,000 a year still puts you in a select group.

In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau says that only 5.63% of individual income earners and only 17.8% of households had incomes of $100,000 or more in 2006. So despite the drop in purchasing power from the days of old, if you earn $100k or more each year, you're still in an elite group.

How can you get into the six-figure club? There are many roads to this golden path (lottery, inheritance, take over a family business, etc.), but many, if not all, of these are out of your control. As such, I'm going to focus on what I consider to be the method that will give the most people the greatest chance of earning $100k or more — by developing a career and growing it over time. Specifically, I'm going to tell you how I got to six figures in seven years and how you can use these principles to do the same.

Words of Warning

You're probably skeptical. I'm okay with that at this point. Read on with an open mind and I think you'll be pleased. And while I can assure you that the tips below are proven and repeatable, I must admit that they're also challenging. Therefore I'd like to make the following perfectly clear before I get started:

These suggestions are difficult to follow. They require tough choices, time commitments, sacrifice, discipline and a bunch of other traits that most people don't want to bother with. If they did, many more workers would make six figures. That's their choice, of course, but these same people should then not complain that the steps won't work (or are too hard or whatever.) This piece is not titled “Five EASY Steps to Six Figures in Seven Years” for a reason — they are not easy.

There are exceptions to these principles. Probably many exceptions. Just as with any personal finance advice, people's situations, skills, opportunities, personalities, likes, dislikes, and so on are different. What works for one person may or may not work for another. (As J.D. often says, “Do what works for you.”)

I'm cheating a bit. Just to be completely honest, the seven years noted in the title are post-college (in my case post grad school.) One could argue that those years of schooling should count towards earning six figures. If you'd like to count them, go ahead. But “Five Steps to Six Figures in Thirteen Years” just doesn't have the same ring to it as the current title.

These tips will work. They worked for me. This is exactly what I did to earn six figures in seven years. In addition, I've had many friends and colleagues do the same, so I know it's repeatable — if you follow the steps.

I'll end this preamble by saying I'm not trying to brag (though I realize some of this may sound like it), just offer you a first-hand experience of what worked for me. In fact, if you want to see how much humble pie I've had to eat during my career, read my series detailing all the jobs I've ever held. In it, you'll see that my road was not smooth or without its own challenges. But even with those obstacles I've been able to live out the principles that follow and lead to a six-figure income. I hope you can do the same.

That said, here are my five steps to six figures in seven years.

Step One: Get a High-Earning Degree From a Good School

It's a fact of life that certain college degrees result in a higher earning potential. So graduating in one of these fields gives you a built-in jump on the pack as you try to reach six figures quickly. If you want to be a teacher, that's fine; it's a great and noble profession. But it's likely you won't be able to make six figures quickly (if ever). If you focus on the top few degrees (and the professions associated with them), you'll get a big headstart towards reaching your goal.

Note that I suggest you go to a “good” school. In my opinion, you do not need to go to a top-notch college to make this work. I recommend going to the least expensive school that gets you the degree you need and the initial job you want. Once you do this, the school you attended makes very little difference in your career or earning potential.

I went to a top 25 business school (not top 10 or even top 20), but I left with only $5,000 in debt and the job I desired from my targeted employer. Before I decided to go to my school, I knew the employer I wanted to work for recruited there. You should know the same. Just like a résumé's main purpose is to get you an interview, graduating from college's primary purpose is to get you that first job and often a “good” school can do the job just as well as a “top” college.

Step Two: Work for a Name-Brand Employer at Your First Job.

No matter the field, there are certain companies that have an aura of respect around them — companies that are known to be good trainers and that are admired by people in your field, around the country, and, if good enough, the world. Some of these include: Google, Apple, Disney, Nike, Procter and Gamble, the Mayo Clinic, Pixar, McKinsey, and so on.

There are two main reasons you want to work for a top-notch company:

  1. They generally pay well (though maybe not the best), and you certainly want to have as high of a starting salary as possible, and
  1. Working for these companies gives your résumé an added boost since they are “known” to develop excellent workers. As such, they are companies that other companies recruit from, offering you more (and better) job opportunities in the future. Almost twenty years after I worked at one of these great companies I have colleagues, recruiters, and employers (when I'm interviewing) regularly say something like, “Wow, you worked there” or “You have some great experience” simply because I worked for a name-brand company two decades ago.

How can you get employed by one of these companies? Simple: go to a school where the company recruits (review Step One again). Beyond that, network with alumni, school administrators, and anyone else associated with your target company (or companies) to give yourself the best advantage of getting hired. I happened to know an undergraduate student that went to my target company during my second year of grad school. I kept in touch with him and he was instrumental in getting me hired (and we eventually became roommates).

Step Three: Perform

There's no way getting around it — if you want to be on the earnings fast-track, you need to be on the high-end of the performance scale. What does this mean exactly? It means you need to find out what your employer expects of someone in your position and give them much more than that. If your expectation is to save the company $50,000, work to save it $100,000. If you need to grow sales 7%, work to grow them 12%. If your goal is to get five new customers ordering your product, work to get eight. If you over-deliver versus your expectations and so consistently and with a variety of different projects, you will be a high-level performer and receive a commensurate level of financial rewards.

In addition, you can really super-charge your performance (and thus your pay) if you work on any of the following:

  • Problem projects (turning them from problems to advantages for the company)
  • Important, high-profile assignments that get you noticed by those higher up in the organization, and
  • Big businesses that are vital to the company's success.

Of course, these opportunities are a double-edged sword — they can propel your career if you succeed, but they can also devastate it if you crash-and-burn.

Finally, having a good, pleasant attitude is at least a tie-breaker (some say it's more) that will help you advance in your career. Everyone likes performers with good attitudes more than performers with poor attitudes, so be positive — it might just pay off for you (literally).

Step Four: Manage Your Career Aggressively

Big pay bumps, even for high fliers, don't usually come with the frequency or size that they should. After all, many employers are quite happy giving you the least they can even if you're slam-dunking projects left and right. That's why you need to:

  • Regularly ask for raises (FYI, if you're doing Step Three, asking for and getting a raise becomes a whole lot easier).
  • Ask for promotions when available (these usually include a decent salary bump).
  • Network regularly with people both inside and outside the company. Some of these interactions will help you discover opportunities for advancement.
  • Consider moving companies. This can be a good strategy since many of the biggest increases in both pay and responsibility can be found with a company shift — especially if you're moving from one of the companies listed in Step Two.

The main point I want to emphasize here is you can't allow your career to be on auto-pilot. If you do, you'll get auto-pilot raises and auto-pilot opportunities, and you'll severely limit your chances for making the big bucks. But if you work at it, you can get regular, meaningful salary increases — something that's even more important than starting with a high starting salary.

J.D.'s note: This seems like a good place to add a brief interjection. As you move from job-to-job, remember the importance of knowing how to negotiate your salary. One of the best ways to earn more is to ask for it.

Step Five: Have Some Luck

I hate that this is on the list, but I have to be honest: Luck is a factor in the success of your career. The reason I hate it is that it's the one tip you can influence the least (if at all). Sure, you can try to make your own luck by putting yourself in the right situations, accepting the right jobs, selecting the best employers and so on, but ultimately, much of life and the results of work are out of your hands.

All I can suggest here is to look at all the pros and cons of a job change, promotion, business situation, etc. and consider them carefully — trying to maximize the number of events where luck is in your favor and minimizing the ones where you get bad luck. Also learn to ride good luck as long as you can and cut your losses as quickly as possible when bad luck shows up.

Conclusion

That's it. Those are the five steps I used to grow my income to six figures in seven years, and they're the same tips that have helped me maintain my income growth past that point. I can't guarantee that they'll get you to six figures in seven years, but I can say that if you apply them to your career, I'm pretty confident that your income will grow much faster than it would have if you had not applied them.

Some of you may be thinking “That's great advice — I wish I had it 20 years ago.” In other words, you're past the point where a few of these steps work, so what can you do now to increase your income? My suggestion is to get into the process above at the earliest possible step.

For example, if you think it's worth it and you have the time and money, consider going back to school (step one) to get a new/better degree. If this isn't a possibility or not very practical, start networking your way into a name-brand company (step two). And if this isn't feasible, everyone can at least start with step three no matter where they are in their career.

The later you jump into the process, the less impact it's likely to have on the goal of reaching six figures. However, applying even just the latter steps (especially three and four) will allow you to grow your income far more than it would if simply left to drift on its own.

Step photo by Lazurite. Graduation photo by Eralon. Clover photo by Cygnus921.

More about...Career

Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

Subscribe to the GRS Insider (FREE) and we’ll give you a copy of the Money Boss Manifesto (also FREE)

Yes! Sign up and get your free gift
Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others
guest
145 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
nickel
nickel
10 years ago

Hmmm. I was looking for six steps to make seven figures in eight years, but I guess this will have to do. Regarding #5, I think you’re underselling the importance of making your own luck. What many attribute to “luck” is being in the right place at the right time, and you *do* have a reasonable amount of control over that.

Cara
Cara
10 years ago

Great tips. I think the first tip may turn people off because it goes against the “do what you love” mantra that I see so much. I broke the six figure mark two years into my career, but I specifically chose a high earning major rather than one that interested me. And yes, it’s possible to be successful in a field you don’t care for. I don’t expect my job to be the be all and end all of my life satisfaction. Instead, I use my job to fund my passions (and a possible second career in the arts). Different… Read more »

JW
JW
7 years ago
Reply to  Cara

Hello Cara. Two years is very impressive–top 1% I would assume. May I ask what your major was?

I’ve been working for 5 years as an engineer via computer science, and my pay has increased thus far by $10k (now @ $60k), and is below average according to salary comparison sites. It does bother me.

FMF
FMF
10 years ago

Nickel — Certainly you can “make your own luck” by trying to make smart choices, but often it’s a very random process. For instance, you make a “good” career decision/move and a year later the company is sold and priorities are shifted. Or you take a job to work for a leading “expert” in your industry. Six months later, his wife takes a job across the country and he’s moving with her. Or the economy tanks and hits your industry especially hard. Or the economy tanks and your industry benefits. You can see how random many of these things are.… Read more »

Gordie Rogers
Gordie Rogers
10 years ago

Way too much is made out of what university you go to in the States. It’s a real shame. I think like you said, going to a good school is good enough.

d
d
10 years ago

sounds like somebody has fallen in love with the ‘rat race’ geez….booooorrrriiiinnnnnggggggggg

Retirement Savior
Retirement Savior
10 years ago

I like those ideas. The problem with #1 is that a lot of people don’t know their intended career before college. Often it takes internships or classes to figure out what one would like to do.

I think a lot of step 5 involves networking and meeting people. The luck part will come when the people you meet refer you to good jobs.

Nancy L.
Nancy L.
10 years ago

As a side note to being positive, learn to resist the urge to say “There’s no way to do that!” You may think you are being a realist, but the people who approach unsolvable problems by saying “Let’s see what we can do about this” come across much better to superiors, even if ultimately the project fails as you predicted. Look at it this way: If the project succeeds, and you said it couldn’t be done, you look bad for not recognizing the solution. If the project fails, and you said it couldn’t be done, then people suspect that you… Read more »

April
April
10 years ago

RE: Step one–I tried going for the high-earning degree, and I was miserable for the first two years of college. So miserable that, despite being a type-A overachiever, the thought of quitting school briefly crossed my mind. When I changed my major, I was suddenly excited to go to class, though I knew I wouldn’t make a ton of money out of school with that degree. I think if you can compartmentalize your life, you can be happy in a highly-paid career that isn’t your passion, but it seems it’s not something I can do. And I’m okay with that,… Read more »

Nat
Nat
10 years ago

I am so glad that this post was in my rss feed this morning. I have a question: I have moved rather bumpy through steps 1-3, it really hasn’t been easy at all. I have been struggling lately with WHEN to switch companies (are there any signals besides higher wage)? Also when is a good time to as for a raise (signals?)? I am at a great company and preforming well – I can tell my co-workers think I am going to leave any day because of the innovation and performance I bring. I think part of it might be… Read more »

Foxie || CarsxGirl
Foxie || CarsxGirl
10 years ago

For a while, making six-figures was something I wanted to do. Now, I’m not so sure. I’m pretty confident I could do it in my life, I’m just not sure that the cost is worth it… The time & energy expended could be better put towards my hobby and developing that into something productive, so I’ve only ever planned on using my degree part-time. (Eventually, perhaps not at all.) Though full-time at first, to gain experience and pay off those nasty student loans…

Marcy
Marcy
10 years ago

I think if you can compartmentalize your life, you can be happy in a highly-paid career that isn’t your passion, but it seems it’s not something I can do. And I’m okay with that, and if I never make six figures, I’m okay with that, too. I have to be excited by something to be good at it. Yes. I think not enough is said about things like personality, natural aptitude, etc. I am introverted and have low energy. I will never be successful if I use the definition of success as making a lot of money in business or… Read more »

guinness416
guinness416
10 years ago

I always value FMF’s career advice, the stuff he posts is spot-on in my experience and this is an epic and valuable post! Two points not mentioned (I think, maybe I missed them) – living in a big, expensive city will raise your “base” salary on which future raises will be based; and you can sub the name-brand school for a very in-demand specialty – nobody in the US knows the Irish college I went to, but you can be sure they respect the course content of the degree I got, which very few N.American universities offer. Most of us… Read more »

Jared
Jared
10 years ago

Woohoo! I have a BS in electrical engineering and I’m 3 classes away from my MBA with no debt. According to Yahoo I’ve got No. 1 & 2 on ROI.

getagrip
getagrip
10 years ago

Glad to see something not recommending starting your own business as the only way to wealth. Whether you’re working on your own business or working on a career, I’ve always said both take effort and planning to move forward and advance. It’s just more obvious and typically immediate for folks working at their own business that if they slack they lose. Also hard work alone is not enough in either case. You have to have a vision for what you want in the future if you want to increase your income in your business or career. If you’re answer to… Read more »

Jenzer
Jenzer
10 years ago

“These suggestions are difficult to follow. They require tough choices, time commitments, sacrifice, discipline and a bunch of other traits that most people don’t want to bother with.” How about considering your life values and priorities first, before even contemplating which tough choices, time commitments, etc. are worth it to you? My brother has followed the above career path to a T; he’s now in his mid-forties making well into the six figures as you describe. His various positions have required almost constant travel and time away from his family. I see the results in the negative behavior of his… Read more »

Mary
Mary
10 years ago

Good post. I especially agree with making your first job with a well-known company. A business people respect goes a long way on a resume.

Ann
Ann
10 years ago

Hmm… I’m the poster girl for what not to do at work: (1) I don’t dress for the job I want…probably because I don’t know what job I want; (2) I don’t have a career plan; (3) I don’t suck up network; (4) I don’t have a filter between brain and mouth; and (5) I actively avoid the bigwigs because of 4. Yet, I make six figures (and without ever having to negotiate my salary or my raises) because I have this wacky idea performance is what counts. Sure, I’ve been doing 60-100 hour work weeks since May, but I… Read more »

Catherine
Catherine
10 years ago

Great tips–pretty much what I did. I set a goal for myself in 1998 to double my salary in 5 years, and I quadrupled it in that time. What worked for me were your tips to align yourself with a highly respected company, perform, manage career aggressively, and make your own luck. Most important of those was Perform. In my “real life” as a wife and mother, my kids were so surprised to see me climb into that 5.63% because I’m far from a shark, and what they took away from my experience was “nice guys don’t have to finish… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
10 years ago

You all know how I feel about the importance of finding meaningful work. I think that focusing on money at the exclusion of other factors is generally a road to unhappiness. All the same, I think this is a great post. FMF’s advice is not applicable to everyone. And I can see how some might interpret it as accepting (and joining) the rat race. All the same, I think many, many people can profit from his advice in this article. It’s possible to follow these steps and to be happy with a meaningful career. In fact, I’d argue that merging… Read more »

Vanessa
Vanessa
10 years ago

What are the signs of a “good school”? How do you find out which companies recruit from which schools?

Also, would a company be interested in recruiting a 30-something? I assume they want employees they can mold which is why they recruit from colleges. They’re younger and more malleable.

Ann
Ann
10 years ago

@ Retirement Savior (#6) – As someone who changed majors five times in university, it’s not necessary to have your career planned out from the moment you take your first step. Essentially, a university degree proves you have the ability to learn. I programmed for Microsoft without a computer degree. I marketed for HP and Agilent Technologies without a marketing degree. I’m currently in a financial planning role, even though I’m not an accountant.

Shane
Shane
10 years ago

I prefer to go against the grain. This is the traditional route that most people think it the only way to life. I want to do something different and exciting!

FMF
FMF
10 years ago

Nat — Here’s some food for thought: 1. If you don’t absolutely hate what you’re doing, the company, etc., then there probably aren’t going to be any clear signs when you should leave a particular company. I guess you could consider falling below the average payscale for your position (or whatever level you want to be above average) or lack of professional growth to be signs it’s time to move on, but those are often harder to pinpoint and can be moving targets. 2. It’s a good time to ask for a raise when you’ve been over-performing your job requirements… Read more »

Nelson
Nelson
10 years ago

What are the signs of a “good school”? How do you find out which companies recruit from which schools? A good school is a 4 year accredited University. They will have a career center that helps graduates find jobs and you can ask them for statistics on where graduates end up. If they are good, they will be proud of those statistics and gladly share them with you. Also, would a company be interested in recruiting a 30-something? I assume they want employees they can mold which is why they recruit from colleges. They’re younger and more malleable. Yes, of… Read more »

Annon
Annon
10 years ago

@ d (#5) and J.D. (#19) and Marcy (#11) Agreed that this is an incredible post that works very well for “Type 1” personalities: Rule bound, rigid, and boring as heck. My route to six figures was a bit more entrepreneurial, and (@ Marcy) I am an introvert (as are many entrepreneurs, so don’t lose heart.) There are many paths to the goal, but the question you need to ask is: *Is it worth it* (to me – to live this lifestyle in order to make this kind of salary). One bit of advice that has helped me reach my… Read more »

B Smith || Education 2.0
B Smith || Education 2.0
10 years ago

FMF – Good post. I pretty much agree with what you said, and I’m living proof that doing it will take you from near poverty to a six figure income in just a few years. For me it wasn’t a charted path, I just continuously worked to improve myself, listened to self help tapes during my commute, and worked to make myself a little better every day. I’d like to add to a couple of your points: -Education: Any quality school will do. Seriously, few employers care what college you went to, as long as you have an accredited degree.… Read more »

FMF
FMF
10 years ago

Vanessa — I define a “good school” as one that gets you the initial job you want at the company you want and also has at least some sort of name recognition (either nationally, locally if you’re committed to an area, or in an industry) so it benefits you well past the first job. As far as how to find out what companies recruit at what schools, simply ask the admissions department of a school you’re considering what companies recruited at the school last year, what sort of positions they were looking for, what job titles and at what companies… Read more »

CB
CB
10 years ago

@Marcy I’m sorry you’ve been told that being an extrovert is the only way to make it in your career. You’re right that that shows lack of understanding of how people are different and that there’s no one size fits all solution to life. That being said being an extrovert is more about how you get energized than about how many people you interact with on a daily basis. As an introvert myself, being around people and talking to people on the phone all day drains me. (Fortunately, that’s not my only job requirement.) I need time by myself to… Read more »

Clint
Clint
10 years ago

I’ll be honest, phrases like “much of life and the results of work are out of your hands” rub me in absolutely the wrong direction. Talk to any truly successful person (and by successful, I mean a person who does the work they love, makes the money they want, and lives 100% according to their beliefs and priorities), and you will see that luck and chance had absolutely NOTHING to do with their success. It has a lot more to do with being smart, being conscious, thinking positive, knowing your strengths, seeing the possibilities, knowing your priorities, and being proactive.… Read more »

Shara
Shara
10 years ago

I would add getting a well placed internship to that list. It’s a combination of schooling/training and networking. The company I am with now doesn’t recruit from the school I went to, but they do have departments that selectively pick from specific schools and programs that align with the research they do and I got the ‘in’ in that way. I don’t love what I do, but I don’t hate it either. And while I agree that one’s motivation shouldn’t only be money, I also think people who loftily state that you should ‘do what you love’ don’t have it… Read more »

funkright
funkright
10 years ago

just make sure that you don’t get screwed by the overall economy and go back to earning 1/2 the 6 figures you were earning.. it’s happened to allot of us out here.. doing the things mentioned above make only a marginal difference when the overall tide goes down.. it may keep your boat afloat, but not in the rich seas you’d become accustomed to.. remember most of those “name brand employers” that were mentioned in the article jetizened countless thousands, if not 10’s of 1000’s, of employees this past year.

Lindsay
Lindsay
10 years ago

#3 can also cause early burn-out. If you’re just doing it for the money, you will burn out. If you’re not just doing it for the money, you don’t need this tip. Otherwise, you get to the point where you realize that no amount of money is going to buy your time with your family and friends, time for yourself, or your youth back. You can keep your six figures, I prefer just financial stability, health insurance, a comfortable life, a smallish house, a short commute, and lots of extra time with my family and to pursue various other interests… Read more »

Hokojoma
Hokojoma
10 years ago

J.D.’s next article:

HOW TO MARRY A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN

Step one: Be handsome! Your hair should be soft and wavy, your teeth gleaming! No acne. Be buff and tan and muscular, and tall.

Step two: Be successful! Have a great, six figure job (see my previous article). Drive a big, fancy car and wear lots of jewelry. Own a huge house.

Step three: Be respectful! Dames dig that.

Step four: Pick the prettiest one. Don’t worry about brains so much. You’ll be moving on in 5-10 years anyway.

mayssm
mayssm
10 years ago

I’m quite shocked at the people stating “great post”. 99% of this article is common sense, but out of reach for 99% of the populace. This would be a “great post” for perhaps a middle schooler that was just starting to get interested in a career, but even then, unattainable for the vast majority.

J.D.
J.D.
10 years ago

Although I think some of you are missing FMF’s point, I do have to say that Hokojoma’s comment (#33) made me laugh out loud. 🙂

Hyper
Hyper
10 years ago

I’ve pretty much been following this Path and it’s working pretty well. If you count the 1 year Master’s program then I’m just starting year 4 and 80% of the way to 6 figures. I graduated from a Ivy League school with a Master’s degree, worked for a big name company starting at 65k. The company I worked for had a big recruiting presence at my school and my hiring manager told me that the reputation of the school had a big impact on his decision. I had really good results and got a 4k raise in 6 months. Moved… Read more »

emma
emma
10 years ago

Not sure how this post was much of a revelation… you could as easily have said, “become a doctor!” or “practice law for a large company!” or even, “Record hit album!” Or, you can look up average salaries in different positions and find one whose average at 5 years is >$100K, get the job and there you have it. In other words, it doesn’t take much specialty knowledge to tell someone to get a degree and work hard. I think this post would have been more interesting if you’d listed the major skill sets the population is likely to have,… Read more »

Cody
Cody
10 years ago

These are great actionable steps, but as pointed out in the article, are far from easy. I would argue building your own business is a much easier way to accomplish a 100K per year income. I think the same general rules apply, tweaked a bit: 1. Your school is not important to prospective customers. Experience is what matters. 2. You don’t need to work for a well-known employer, only do business with them. This is much easier to do. 3. Performing will get you ahead in any area. Probably the most important factor for raising your income if you’re self-employed… Read more »

Mark
Mark
10 years ago

Six Steps to getting ahead in Corporate America: 1. Be in the right place at the right time. (Luck.) 2. Know the right people, and be friendly with them. (This is called sucking up. Do it the right way, and management will like you. Do it the wrong way, and management will despise you.) 3. Don’t be afraid to tell people when they are wrong, especially management. They will respect you for having a spine. (Once again, do it the right way…the wrong way will get you labeled a trouble-maker) 4. Appear competent. (Notice I didn’t say be competent. Perception… Read more »

ebyt
ebyt
10 years ago

Good article! I agree with all your points. I don’t see why so many people have bees in their bonnets about “joining the rat race”.

Many people complain they don’t have enough money, but don’t put in the hard work that is needed to get it. Those same individuals envy those who make $100K+, and think it’s easy.

@#33 lol funny… but the point is that everything FMF suggests is achievable with hard work. Even the “luck” he suggests is conditional on the previous steps…

Chris
Chris
10 years ago

First you say… I’m cheating a bit. Just to be completely honest, the seven years noted in the title are post-college (in my case post grad school.) One could argue that those years of schooling should count towards earning six figures. If you’d like to count them, go ahead. But “Five Steps to Six Figures in Thirteen Years” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as the current title. And just a bit later your first step is… Step one: Get a high-earning degree from a good school I think you’re cheating a lot. In one breath you say… Read more »

tjw
tjw
10 years ago

I like the idea of making your own luck. I earned a promotion less than a year into my first job by making my own luck. Yes, it was lucky that the person before me left. But the position was going to remain vacant until I took on one of the projects and then asked for the job. Yes, I got lucky, but I also created my own luck by putting myself in a position where I was capable of doing the new job and then asking for it.

RMS
RMS
10 years ago

Can someone remind me of the name of this blog? That’s right, it’s Get Rich Slowly, and that’s why I follow it regularly. If you want to get rich quickly at a job and kill yourself at work for a few years, then read the blogs by Tim Ferriss or by Ramit Sethi.

FMF
FMF
10 years ago

A few other thoughts: 1. You don’t have to take a job in a field you hate just to make six figures. Sure, some fields/degrees have built-in advantages, but if your likes don’t suit one of these, then go your own path. You can still earn a decent salary (and maybe six figures) — you’re just taking a different path (as some have suggested.) That said, it may be harder to do (for instance, I’m guessing the average musician earns less than the average engineer), but for most people it’s much better to earn $80k doing what you love than… Read more »

kaitlyn
kaitlyn
10 years ago

I disagree with working for a big name institution. I was offered positions at both a big name company and a little indie place. I would not have been paid more at the indie place, and worse, I would have been trapped into one small focus area. By going with the indie company, my real talent (the ability to walk into a complete mess, figure it out, and go) showed how valuable I am. Because of that, I’ve been cross trained on far more positions than I ordinarily would have at a big name place. If I do eventually move… Read more »

Ann
Ann
10 years ago

OR, you can ignore all the above, and become a complete sociopath in the corporate arena. Backstab, belittle, undermine, flatter, lie, scheme, circumvent, lie some more… in other words, do whatever it takes. Soon, you will be an executive.

Oh, God. The first time I witnessed this, I was shocked (I was so naive back then). I couldn’t figure out how this person looked at herself in the mirror every morning. After a few months of her abuse, I left the department despite vehement protests from three levels of senior management and she got demoted.

Lesley
Lesley
10 years ago

RMS: That’s exactly what I was thinking! Usually I don’t comment on the posts like this (that I don’t like or don’t apply to me) but you voiced my thoughts so precisely I just had to tell you that. 🙂

Jenzer
Jenzer
10 years ago

@FMF (comment #44) … My DH is living proof of both #1 and #3. His salaried occupation as a pilot involves VERY different working conditions than the types of high-earning, desk-bound occupations found in corporate finance, management, engineering, IT, etc. Until recently, aviation also carried good potential for a six-figure career, depending on the type of aircraft you flew, the company you worked for, and your seniority within the company. The combination of economic downturn and the events of 9/11 saw many of those lucrative aviation opportunities vanish within months. Economic downturns are to be expected, but terrorist attacks of… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
10 years ago

The readers have been heard! Well, some of them, anyhow. Mike sent a question by e-mail. He has a high-paying career and is not happy. I’ll post a follow-up “ask the readers” on Saturday morning to address his situation and to deal with some of your concerns. Sound good?

Steven
Steven
10 years ago

No one has complete control over their lives. The only thing you can do is maximize your chance of success, but there is no such thing as a 100% guarantee in life. No matter how great your chances of success are, there is still a chance at failure. Just because you received the opportunity, does not mean you were the most qualified. You could have a contact, you were willing to take a lower salary, you have specialized knowledge, or you were in the right place at the right time. Right place at the right time… sound a lot like… Read more »

shares