9 secrets to earning $100,000

Workers who have crossed that threshold give advice on Reddit about how to get there.

By Kim Peterson Aug 8, 2013 7:57AM
Image: Man holding cash © Rubberball, Getty ImagesThere's no easy way to $100,000 in annual salary. But people who have reached that milestone are offering some advice on how others can get there.

One user on the Reddit website put out a request for anyone making at least $100,000 a year. "What was the smartest decision you ever made?" asked someone going by the name of RicsFlair.

The question generated a wide-ranging discussion about what it takes to climb the career ladder. Some of the predictable responses were in there -- work hard, do a good job and the like -- but users did have some decent advice for anyone trying to make it in the world.

From the discussion, here are nine secrets to making $100,000:

1. Don't burn bridges. One person didn't tell the boss what he or she really thought when leaving an old job. "Doing so opened a door for me several years later and got me to where I am now."

2. Learn how to negotiate a salary. Many websites and other resources will tell you what you should be earning for specific jobs and skills. "Salaries in any job market are highly variable, and who gets at the top end and who gets at the bottom end often comes down to good negotiation," wrote one commenter.

3. Be prepared to work a lot. Several commenters said the key to earning that much money is putting in many, many hours. One person said his father has an executive job at a hospital, but it has come at a cost. "I admire. . . him for what he does and how well liked and respected he is by his peers and patients but I wish he would have been around more because I barely have a relationship with him."

4. Invest early to get the long-term payout. Pay for an education, even though it's pricey, one commenter wrote. Save longer to buy tools and clothes of better quality. Spend the extra time learning everything about your job, not just what it takes to get by.

5. Study something practical in college. "My issue is with the kids who go to college without a clear goal they wish to achieve with their education," wrote one commenter. "They major in something silly (liberal arts? seriously?) and don't specialize, seek experience, or train for a career, and then expect their degree to entitle them to 50k a year and a two bedroom house."

6. Build your reputation early. When you get your first job, you usually have the time to put in more effort outside of normal work hours. "I typically worked 50+ hours a week for the first four years or so and got great ratings over people who had been there longer but only put in exactly 40 hours and were out the door," wrote one commenter. "Better ratings at an early age meant bigger salary bumps. It works just like compounding interest."

7. Always push to climb the career ladder. "Keep pushing management and (human resources) to find out how you can move up and progress within the company," wrote one commenter. "Ask them what you can do to make yourself the ideal candidate for any positions up the ladder that may become available in a few years."

8. Be likeable. "Don't just go in and do your job and leave," wrote one. "Chat with people, be friendly, ask how your boss's weekend was, volunteer for charities through work, participate in a softball league or golf outing. . .etc. Building a network of people within your company who like you will pay off later because those people might just be in a hiring position someday."

9. Have the right luck. Even when you do everything right, sometimes it just comes down to luck. "Hard work and all that is very important, but being in the right place at the right time is also important," added one user. "Almost all extremely wealthy people were blessed with the right idea at the right time with the right motivation."

More on moneyNOW

Aug 8, 2013 10:56AM
I make over $100K but never intended to. When I graduated college I thought if I ever made $50K life would be simple. But inflation over the last 30 years has changed that thought. My motto was to always do the best job I can, do not whine or think someone else will do it. Of course i am blessed with a good healthy family, good education good job I did work hard for these but am thankful for the good fortune I have. So my advice is to try to do the right thing, work hard and good things will happen
Aug 8, 2013 11:45AM

I make over a $100K a year and know several people that do also.  We were discussing this a few months ago and here is a summary of what we came up with.


1.  Have a college degree in something that is employable

2.  Work in a career that require specialized skills

3.  Focus on developing your management skills, but keep up on what is happen with technology in your field.  If you want to make more money, then you need to be in management.  There are a lot of people with the technical skills, but few that can manage complex projects and multiple people.

4.  Able to understand and determine what is important what isn't, and keep your focus on what is important.  See the big picture.

5.  Be a problem solver. 

Aug 8, 2013 1:06PM

The two secrets to success are;


1. Don't share everything you know





Aug 8, 2013 11:59AM
So what if you didn't go to college or finish college?  What if you work for yourself?  This article assumes you are an 80 hour a week drone for some corporation.  Then they lay you off and tell you better luck next time. 
Aug 8, 2013 12:52PM
I could be a director and earn over $100K but then the hours and stress level goes up.  I prefer to be home with my kids by 6 pm and actually have weekends off.  But to become wealthy, I learned to live underneath my means and invest my money.  I also flip 2 houses a year, where I spend some time looking for the bargain property and pay a contractor to do the work.  It's risky but well worth the time and effort.  So on top of my stress free $80K job, I earn an additonal $50-60 on my flips, and $5K on dividends while my portfolio grows by 20% each year.  By 50 I should have enough to quit the 9 to 5 and still draw a 6 figure income.  This is proof you don't need a crazy stressful time consuming job to earn 6 figures.  You just have to have the mind to understand that real wealth comes from making money with minimal labor and time.  The Accounts Receivable clerk at my company who earns $40K/year has 3 rental properties that net her an additional $28K.  She's purchasing a new unit every 2 years and will outearn her bosses within 5 years.
Aug 8, 2013 12:26PM
 Find and do something that is not what you consider work. Love what you do and don't compromise your MORALS or VALUES.  You only gain real wealth by growing in the field you have chosen. Most importantly NEVER KISS A$$ to get where you want to go.  
Usually it is the **** kissers, not the producers who make the big bucks, something wrong with our country, and it starts with the losers at the top.
Aug 8, 2013 1:24PM

I work in the banking industry. I having been working my current job for over sixteen years and have another twelve years financial experience with one of the bigger banks where I worked as a tax accountant before I was downsized. I have close to thirty years banking experience.


Through hard work and effort I worked up the corporate ladder at my mid-sized bank and I am currently a Vice President. My salary is under the $100,000 this article refers to. What frustrates me and other people I work with who have some time with our institution is knowing new hires at our level will come in for over $100,000.00.  Most of the new hires have less banking experience and that just makes more resentment with some of the people who have spent a lot of years helping our bank to grow.


Although, I would like to see my salary grow to a $100,000.00 or more, the chance with that happening are slim. I would more likely be able to obtain that salary by going to another bank. I enjoy working for my institution and I am at a point in my life where I do not want to start over again, even though I may make a lot more money.


What makes me happy is knowing I have invested the money I have made very well. I am on track to meet all of my financial and retirement goals. I plan on having a long and comfortable retirement.


I know a lot of people who make a lot more money than I do that are deep in debt and have no savings what so ever. Making $100,000.00 is nice and can make life easier; but I have peace of mind knowing I am debt free, have a sound investment and retirement plan, and have friends and family who I love and love me.


Making a $100,000.00 a year is not going to make me happier or more satisfied with my life that I am now.




Aug 8, 2013 11:49AM

Be careful of number 2.  I’ve seen guys negotiate themselves into what is probably the top 10% in the profession thus increasing managements expectations, turning a spotlight onto themselves, and their performance.  Turns out management figured they weren’t worth it after 6 months.

Aug 8, 2013 9:46AM
The secret to making $100k is simple - create $200k worth of value, whether you do it working for someone else or for yourself.  If you don't add enough value to the bottom line, you aren't worth as much as you think you are.  And if you do add enough value to the bottom line to justify a six-figure paycheck and you aren't getting it, you need to negotiate a raise or find another job.
Aug 8, 2013 1:08PM
A wise man once said: "There are 2 kinds of workers in the world, the ones that work hard and the others are the ones trying to take the credit........ Be the first one! "
Aug 8, 2013 10:58AM
Just wait ten years: with the value of the US dollar falling the average salary will be $100,000
Aug 8, 2013 12:58PM

CHANGE JOBS (but not too frequently)! I have had my greatest $ increases by changing companies as I have climbed my own career ladder. 5 years seems to be the proper timeframe at any one company for me. It's long enough to demonstrate dedication and reliability on my resume, and short enough that I don't get to a point where I feel like I am being taken advantage of or burned out on the company. 


Here's a very basic example of why it works for me:

Let's say a company hires you at a certain salary. You do a good job over the years and get promotions and raises. Most employees are satisfied to get a 10 or 15% raise with their promotion(those have been real numbers in my own experience).  After a few internal promotions like this, you might now be below the average salary for your current job. The thing is, companies don't give raises based on average industry salaries. They HIRE based on average industry salaries. This makes it possible to be in a situation where you have worked your way up in a company and might actually make less than someone performing the same job who was just recently hired. Since nobody talks about paychecks, companies can easily do this.


I personally have experienced these minor "feel good" raises with promotions early on in my working life, and also very substantial income increases simply by changing companies once I realized how I could make that work for myself. Obviously every industry and career path is different with regard to how much more you might make by going somewhere else, but assuming you have a valued skill set, getting past 100K is much easier by putting your skills out on the open market.

Aug 8, 2013 1:05PM

I'm on my 4th actually 3rd career. First was USAF in the late 60's early 70's. Back then the training I received in Electronics was so superior to any other program in the US at any level. After my discharge I got my MBA and fought the corporate life achieving the holy grail of wages for the time for 10 years, I then started my own business and again great wages. But, no time for myself or family. About 25 years ago I started back in electronics at a much lower wage but I was happy, I specialized in the field and became one of the top techs in the world in the specific field. I've been at the HG wage for the last 15 years and will retire in a couple of years with little or no change in lifestyle.


The trick is not a degree, a corporation or luck, It's picking a job that you enjoy and becoming the best in class. Once you do that you can name your price. It takes work, study and self worth but it can be done easily. I've done it 3 times in 3 fields.

Aug 8, 2013 1:15PM
"9 Secrets to being a more productive slave."

Easiest way to 100K is pick yourself up by your bootstraps, don't whine at work, actually go to work, do your job and do it right, network, make sure the right people see your achievements.  Oh yeah, and work for a major oil company, LOL.
Aug 8, 2013 2:08PM

I make over 200k and have so for the past 8 years, without a college degree. Successful people share numerous common traits and the ones I come across most often are listed below;


1. They have a great work ethic, often putting in extra hours in order to complete assignments ahead of schedule.

2. The are results driven, rather than task driven. Meaning they are more interested in the results achieved than the task that allowed them to get there, but understand both are important.

3. They are competitive. They are always looking forward and never stop to see where they have been.

4. They are rugged individualist, rarely relying on other people to accomplish their mission. They find solutions where others will just see a problem.


Apply these 4 things into everything you do and your will accomplish much more than you ever thought possible.

Aug 8, 2013 12:16PM
What a BS article, nothing but a waste of space.
Aug 8, 2013 2:10PM

I didn't have a lot of "luck" in my jobs.  I saw everyone but white males favored over me.  I worked for the government for a while and discovered that they valued mediocrity more than talent.


So, I quit my last job 34 years ago and have been self-employed ever since.  The harder and smarter I worked, the better I did.  It was about that simple (or hard, depending upon how you look at it), and I've done very well.  I retired long ago and have time to waste reading money.msn.com.

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