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?

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FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.
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2 years ago

I didn’t read the article. Sorry, I just read the title, and for everyone else who did the same but with the intentions of finding out how they did it, at the end of the day it’s how much effort you put in yourself, with the mentality of I can do that, how can I do it better, and efficient. I started playing golf when I was 22, bought my first set for myself on my birthday, when I was 24 I took the PAT and became a Golf Professional, the job market is huge but you have to be willing to move, I wasn’t able to move just had a baby new to the area already being that I only had be living there since 21. I am now 26 working as a project manager, I started this position maybe 10 months ago and I’m making a little under 70K +benefits & bonus and they are LOWBALLING me because of my past experience. At 21 I was waiting table’s making really good money just the downsides of that industry I didn’t like, moved up in 2 years to managing the place, went to college for a half a semester when I was 24 for Golf Course Management got straight A’s dropped 10 strokes, dropped out, before crippling debt, passed the PAT, went to serving table’s again & a Golf Coach, I wasn’t making anything. I had to move again due to financial status got a job as a door to door salesman selling VZN hah! That lasted about 2 weeks and they didn’t pay me!!! I finally got hooked up with a job as a carpenter when I was 25 and showed through work ethic, customer service, and most importantly CRITICAL PATH PLANNING I went from carpenter to managing multi million dollar projects in under a year. Take every opportunity you never know where it will lead you.

3 years ago

I am 29 and make 95k as a heavy duty mechanic. I work in the city and come home everyday. In fact my hours are quite nice mon-Thurs, 10 hour days. There are guys younger than me making the same and you don’t need much schooling as it’s a trade.. so I’d say it’s definitely possible.

6 years ago

Im 21, been making 120k a year since i was 19. Work for a railway. I own a home, nothing special, 250k fixer upper but still a home none the less. It certainly is doable. It just takes motivation and not always going the conventional route. Ive seen lots of people get their undergrad and think oh boy im set now, but then theyre making 40 grand a year for the first ten years of their career and on top of that they have student loans. If a young person wants to make six figures by the Age of 30, it is possible. Depends on the career they choose, or maybe business owner ship, or investments. I add another 15 thousand a year to my income through a rental property, and own stocks and precious metals which earn interest.

6 years ago

Greg, that’s a pretty broad statement considering you know little to nothing about Barry’s financial situation other than his salary.

6 years ago

Barry why own 2 homes? You’re putting yourself at risk

6 years ago
Reply to  Greg

Why greg…what do you mean by that?

6 years ago
Reply to  SAJID

Homes can decline in value. Homes can lose money each month if expenses exceed rent which is the norm in Alberta.

6 years ago

Hi there, I’m a journeyman electrician. StarTed in the trades right out of high school. I was a journeyman by age 22 in Alberta. I’ve made over $100,000 three years in a row now. This past year, 2014, I made $116,000 and it was great! Working for a large power systems outfit where they treat their employees great and pay accordingly was very satisfying. It’s absolutely possible to make killer money WAY earlier than thirty years old if you know which industries to become involved in. PS I made $116,000 last year without leaving home once and never doing camp work or shift work. Just a Monday to Friday job working 7-3:30 and some weekend work when it was extra busy. I’m married with 2 kids and own two homes already at age 24, easily doable when you live in Canada’s promise land Alberta! !

6 years ago

Im a 24 year old Manitoban and make over $95k/year with a high school diploma

6 years ago

At 30 I made 90k from salary and dividends with a little over 100k in savings. It can be done if you work for it.

6 years ago

Out of every 200-500 people 1 person makes that 90K+ per year. Everybody else makes less by 30. Sorry this is the truth.

Stop evaluating if you can make 90K per year and start looking at who you are and what you stand for in this world.

7 years ago

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.