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Maximize Your Income Learn How To Make 100k a Year
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Maximize Your Income: Learn How To Make 100k a Year

17 minute read | May 23, 2023
Monica J. White

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Monica J. White

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Earning $100K a year is an achievement that not everyone gets to experience in life, and it can be easy to feel like it’ll never happen for you. But in today’s digital landscape, there are an increasing number of roles that can lead to a six-figure salary, some of which may surprise you. Sure, you can earn over $100K by working to become a surgeon, but you can also earn $100K from managing social media channels, running a dog walking business, dropshipping, or even creating content. 

In this article, we’ll explore over 25 ways you can achieve a high annual income or bring in thousands of dollars in extra money. With six-figure-salary careers, entrepreneurship, freelancing, and side hustles all covered, we’re about to give you a lot to think about. 

Is It Hard To Make 100K a Year?

Making $100K a year does require time, effort, and drive, no matter which path you choose to take. It can be difficult, but not if you know how to optimize your chances of success.  

How To Make 100K a Year: Different Paths To Explore

There’s a whole host of different ways to bring in $100K a year, from landing a high salary to bringing in extra money with a side hustle. 

High-Paying Careers

The most obvious method to achieve a six-figure salary is to launch a high-paying career. This allows you to focus full-time on one thing while earning all the cash you need.

Of course, high-paying jobs aren’t a goal you can set one day and achieve the next, but there are at least plenty of options to choose from. Some require academic prowess, others practical skills, while some focus more on social and presentation skills. Here are a few different examples to think about. 

Software Developer

how to make 100k a year, software developer salary

Software developer/engineer roles landed at #8 on LinkedIn’s 50 Best Jobs in America list for 2022. It scores highly in job satisfaction, compensation (with an average salary of $109,020), and number of job openings. It’s also predicted to grow 20% faster than the average career between now and 2031.

Role and Responsibilities

Software developers design, build, and maintain software. But their scope of work is extremely wide—they can develop video games, websites, apps, software tools, online banking software, educational software, military and government software, and much more.

Whether you’re interested in working in entertainment or you want to contribute to important humanitarian projects, you can do so as a software developer. 

Education, Skills, and Other General Prerequisites Needed

Becoming a software developer means learning to code. This can seem like a daunting task to a lot of people, but it’s actually a very accessible skill. Education is becoming more accessible, too—it’s not all about advanced degrees anymore. 

Online courses and immersive coding bootcamps are legitimate ways to study, and companies are working towards removing degrees from their employment requirements. Other skills include:

  • Teamwork and collaboration skills
  • Organization skills
  • Debugging
  • Problem-solving
  • Flexibility and adaptability 

Sales Engineer

how to make 100k a year, sales engineer salary

You might think you know what working in sales entails, but it all depends on what you’re selling. Complex technical products designed for professional use require skilled, knowledgeable sales engineers to sell them. When it comes to sales, skills combined with knowledge can result in high compensation, with annual salaries at around $119,165 in the U.S.

Role and Responsibilities

The primary responsibility of any sales representative is to drive sales of their assigned product or service. For sales engineers, this involves preparing technical presentations to introduce and explain the product, generating new leads and following them through to a sale, and analyzing market trends and client feedback. It’s a varied role, as finding leads is a technical task revolving around data, trends, and numbers—but opening up a conversation and achieving a sale is all about personal, attentive, and helpful human interaction. 

Education, Skills, and Other General Prerequisites Needed

Many sales engineers have a college degree in a technical or financial field, but that’s not the only path. Sales is a huge sector and companies are constantly expanding their teams and looking for new talent. To fill this demand, there are now online tech sales bootcamps that aim to take students from beginner level to employable in under a year.

The essential skills required for this kind of work include:

  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Persuasion skills
  • Technical knowledge of the product and its industry 
  • Project management skills
  • Organizational skills (sales engineers must manage a lot of leads at one time)
  • Computer and data skills (software like Salesforce, Microsoft Excel, and Tableau)

Surgeon

how to make 100k a year, surgeon salary

It might be an obvious answer, but if you’re up for years of study, medical professions are a surefire way to bring in money. For surgeons in the United States, the median annual salary is $208,000.

Role and Responsibilities

There are many different types of surgeons: general surgeons, neurosurgeons, critical care surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, pediatric surgeons, and plastic surgeons to name just a few. The specific areas of the body and problems they treat are different, but the main goal of any surgeon is the same: to operate on patients to treat their injuries, diseases, and deformities. 

Education, Skills, and Other General Prerequisites Needed

Formal education is an unavoidable essential for this line of work. In the United States, most aspiring surgeons must complete a bachelor’s degree, medical school, and at least five years in a residency program. The must-have skills for a general surgeon include: 

  • Excellent hand-eye coordination and vision
  • Physical stamina
  • Emotional strength and resilience to cope under stressful circumstances and deal with the loss of life
  • Superb communication skills to liaise with colleagues, patients, and their families
  • Problem-solving and diagnostic skills 

Pilot

how to make 100k a year, pilot salary

If you like to travel and have no fear of flying, a job as a commercial pilot could be something to look into. The median annual salary for airline pilots is $134,630, but there is a lot of training and certifications to earn before you can apply to a commercial airline. 

Role and Responsibilities

Pilots are not only responsible for operating the aircraft in the air but also for ensuring the condition of the plane and its cargo before launch. Before a flight, they submit flight plans to air traffic control, check the fuel supply, and verify the weight and balance of the aircraft. In the air, pilots also monitor all of the aircraft systems and respond to changing conditions or emergencies. 

Education, Skills, and Other General Prerequisites Needed

To become a commercial airline pilot, you need to have a total of 1,500 flight hours, which means you need to work as a different kind of pilot to build up the experience. In terms of general education, many airlines also prefer their pilots to have a bachelor’s degree.

The first steps are to earn a private pilot certificate, an instrument rating, and a commercial pilot certificate. This will allow you to be legally paid to fly. Then, you need to build up those 1,500 hours by working as a charter pilot or a flight instructor, and at some point earn a multi-engine rating before you start applying to roles. Essential skills for pilots include:

  • Knowledge of math and physics 
  • Technical knowledge of aircraft 
  • Superb spacial awareness and no visual impairments
  • Strong communication and leadership skills to instruct other aircraft personnel 
  • Effective decision-making skills and the ability to work under pressure

Oil Rig Worker

how to make 100k a year, oil rig worker salary

If you’re up for physical work, oil rig work also has a six-figure salary—$100,783 according to Glassdoor. Many oil rig jobs also involve working away from home. Some require just a few nights at a time, while others operate with a pattern of four weeks on, four weeks off. 

Role and Responsibilities

Two of the main roles on an oil rig are derrickhands and drillers. The derrickhands operate the derrick (a lifting device) to accurately position the drill and control the mud pumps. Then the drillers operate the drill control machinery. Both roles include the maintenance of their respective machinery, keeping records of use, and following strict health and safety procedures. 

Education, Skills, and Other General Prerequisites Needed

As one of the most hazardous jobs in the world, maintaining high safety standards is crucial for oil rigs. If you wish to work in this sector, you must hold an offshore medical certificate to prove that you’re healthy and strong enough to work without an increased risk of injuring yourself or others. There are also safety induction and emergency training courses that must be completed. The required skills include:

  • Using, repairing, and maintaining machines and tools
  • Good recording-keeping skills and attention to detail
  • The ability to stay calm in stressful situations
  • Excellent communication and teamwork skills
  • Good hand-eye coordination and general strength 

Data Scientist

how to make 100k a year, data scientist salary

Another popular, fast-growing, and well-paying technical career is data science. Businesses and organizations are hiring more and more of these professionals to sift through mountains of collected data and find meaningful trends and patterns that can drive business decisions. The median annual salary for data scientists in the United States is $126,813.

Role and Responsibilities

A data scientist’s role involves working with stakeholders and decision-makers to identify a business’s problems or challenges. Data scientists then proceed with the goal of finding important information and solutions for the problems through data analysis. This process involves a range of techniques including predictive modeling, language processing, regression analysis, and mathematical analysis—all of which you’d study during your data science education and training.

Education, Skills, and Other General Prerequisites Needed

Many data scientists have a college education, in either mathematics, statistics, linear algebra, calculus, or other related fields. This foundational mathematical knowledge is essential to build data science skills on top of. But a college degree isn’t the only way, or even the best way, to land a job as a data scientist. You can also train as a data scientist by enrolling in a data science bootcamp. With a bootcamp, the basic skills you’ll learn include:

  • Programming languages (Python, R, and many other data science languages)
  • Relational databases and SQL
  • Linear algebra, multivariable calculus, and statistics for real-world problem solving
  • Data visualization: presenting your findings intuitively to report back to stakeholders

Cybersecurity Architect

how to make 100k a year, cyber security architect salary

With a huge personnel shortage and a growth rate of 35% predicted for the next decade, cybersecurity positions are literally piling up. This means high demand, high compensation, and high numbers of training programs and new recruits. The average salary in the United States, according to Glassdoor is $162,002.

Role and Responsibilities

As you might expect, the main role of a cybersecurity architect is to keep an organization’s computer network and data safe from unauthorized access. This entails work in multiple areas, such as protecting internal networks from outside threats, assessing risks, and ensuring compliance with security and data protection laws. 

Education, Skills, and Other General Prerequisites Needed

A lot of knowledge and training is required to get into cybersecurity. You need to understand computer networks and their potential threats well enough to spot even the smallest flaw in security or a suspicious element in the system. While degrees in computer science or another technical field are common, for those looking to specifically hone their skills in this domain, the best cybersecurity bootcamps offer targeted training to help beginners launch their careers. Must-have skills include:

  • Proficiency in programming languages (Python, JavaScript, and Java)
  • Understanding of encryption and network security 
  • Knowledge of risk analysis and management 
  • Experience with incident handling and response
  • Excellent problem-solving, collaboration, and teamwork skills
  • Flexibility and adaptability 

Digital Marketing Manager

how to make 100k a year, digital marketing manager salary

For internet and social media-savvy individuals, digital marketing is a career where you can really shine. It combines technical knowledge like SEO (search engine optimization) and analytics with passion and creativity. Digital marketing is all about promoting a brand and connecting with people online—it’s an essential practice for most companies to succeed, resulting in its high average salary of $133,380.

Role and Responsibilities

The primary role of a digital marketer is to increase a brand’s visibility online. There’s a large variety of methods and techniques to achieve this, including social media, company websites and blogs, email marketing, search engines, paid advertising, and more. Staying up to date with current trends, hot topics, and popular spaces is essential as responding quickly to a new internet fad can have explosive results, but there’s always a tight time limit. 

Education, Skills, and Other General Prerequisites Needed

College degrees in business and marketing are common in this field, but it’s also completely possible to teach yourself with online courses and digital marketing bootcamps. Following marketing experts on social media is a great way to learn and keep up with trends. Here are some of the essential skills and knowledge you’ll need to succeed:

  • Knowledge in SEO, affiliate marketing, conversion rate optimization
  • Skills in content creation and copywriting
  • Experience in social media marketing and technical knowledge of the platforms
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Customer research and empathy skills

Other Careers

Of course, this is only a small selection of roles that pay $100K or over. If nothing jumps out at you, you can try researching topics and areas you’re interested in and their average salaries using sites like Indeed or Glassdoor. Other popular options include:

  • Hardware design engineer
  • Investment banking analyst 
  • User experience manager
  • Project manager
  • Lawyer
  • Dentist
  • Veterinarian 

Go the Freelance Route

Finding a full-time employer is just one way to make use of a lot of the skills mentioned above. With talents such as writing, art, programming, marketing, security, data analytics, or sales, you can also choose to go freelance. 

This route can provide more freedom, flexibility, and control over what, how, and when you work. Of course, you also have to search for your jobs, and this can take significant amounts of time when you’re just starting out. 

However, in-demand skills can bring big paychecks from clients. You’ll find people willing to pay handsomely for short turnarounds, niche skills, and knowledge, or to avoid the cost and time of hiring full-time. 

Here’s what you need to do to launch a freelance career:

  • Pick an area and learn the skills 
  • Practice and find low-level jobs or volunteer work to build a portfolio
  • Network with other freelancers to learn and find opportunities 
  • Consider working with an agency 
  • Use job market sites to apply for one-off jobs and advertise your services 
  • Keep searching for new opportunities and trying new things

Start Your Own Business

how to make 100k a year, Start Your Own Business

Aside from full-time employment and freelancing, another way to make six figures is by starting your own business. Similar to freelancing, this requires more than just turning up and doing the work you’re told to do. As well as expertise in the products or services you intend to sell, you’ll also need the drive and know-how to run operations, network, budget, and hire employees. 

Business Ideas

A good business idea is all about finding something new or putting a twist on something old—here are some basic business models that could spark some inspiration:

  • Online reselling
  • Pet-sitting
  • T-shirt printing
  • Online teaching
  • Online bookkeeping
  • Transcription or translation services
  • Professional organizing

How To Grow Your Business to 100K Valuation

Start by finding out exactly what your customers want. This includes the finer details of the product or service, the purchasing process, price, customer care, sourcing of materials, shipping or logistics-based preferences, and much more. 

This research should help you define a lot of goals, but as a start-up, you will likely have to compromise on a lot of points to get up and running. The essential thing to remember once you’re ready to hit that $100K valuation is to go back and revisit those goals. With more experience and budget, you’ll be able to implement improvements to each of those areas and increase customer satisfaction. 

The next thing is to go all out on marketing. Social media, search engines, email marketing, paid advertisements—figure out what would suit your needs best and start investing in it. You can hire experts for this, but you can also learn digital marketing yourself—it’s a great skill for a business owner to have. 

When it comes to businesses, it’s possible to far exceed $100K and bring in millions of dollars of extra income.

Pursue a Side Hustle

how to make 100k a year, Pursue a Side Hustle

Each strategy mentioned so far has been a full-time project—high-salary jobs, freelance work, and business ownership are all very time-consuming. However, it’s also possible to bring in extra cash by simply adding a side hustle to whatever you’re already doing. These mini-projects can take up as much or as little time as you want, but they still have the potential to earn thousands of dollars over time. 

Monetize Your Hobby

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance, high-enjoyment side hustle, consider monetizing your hobby. This can be done by selling products and services or creating content to instruct and entertain other hobbyists. There’s a market for just about every niche in existence, and thanks to the internet, you can reach your audience no matter where they are. 

Personal Shopper

Personal shoppers purchase items on behalf of another party, from groceries to clothing and anything else you can think of. It can involve finding the right products to meet a client’s needs, or simply picking up items when a client is too busy to do it themselves.

Dog Walking and Pet Sitting

This side hustle has a lot of growth potential, as there are always pets that need looking after—especially if you live in a densely-populated area. It’s also a great area for independent freelancers since many pet owners like to leave their pets in a home with an animal lover rather than with a business. 

Trading

If you’re interested in stocks, day trading is also a viable side hustle. While it’s best to start slow with one, the more experience and expertise you build up, the more you can invest. If you’re a beginner, you can also start with demo trading to learn how things work.

Affiliate Marketing

If you’re into content creation like videos or blogs, you can bring in extra money by engaging in affiliate marketing. This is pretty straightforward—just sign up for affiliate programs with brands and products you like and mention them in your content while providing a personal link for your viewers to click and buy from. 

Creative Services (Videography, Photography, Writing, Graphic Design, Digital Marketing, etc.)

A classic side hustle is providing creative services. You may have to buy some equipment if you don’t have it already, but other than that, initial costs can be very low. 

Event Planning

Event planning is both a skill many people lack and a task many people hate, making it a great money-earning opportunity. If you have a knack for juggling multiple bookings, managing timings, and designing enjoyable events, you can get paid to help people achieve their dream parties.

Dropshipping

This e-commerce model allows you to sell a product before you buy the stock—meaning you can make money without having to spend money first. It allows for less risk and less initial investment. All you have to do is find suppliers with the stock you want to sell and set up an online storefront. 

Email Newsletter

If you have information, news, tutorials, or other kinds of content to offer, you can turn a profit by circulating your content as a monetized newsletter. Paid membership, ads, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing are all different ways to generate cash.

Investment Income (Pro Tip: Hire a Financial Advisor)

Income from investments is a way to earn passive income. By setting up a lucrative investment, you can earn money over time just by leaving it to do its thing. Hiring a financial advisor can help you discover and maintain ways to earn investment income.

Financial Assets

Financial assets are things like stocks, equities, bonds, and annuities. The details of what they are and how they can generate profit can be quite complex, which is why a financial advisor is a good idea unless you’re an enthusiast. 

Dividends

Dividend stocks typically increase payout over time and are less volatile than growth stocks. They are bought and kept for a longer amount of time, meaning there’s less work to do on a daily basis. 

Real Estate

Rental income from real estate is a reliable and long-term way to build passive income. It can make a lot of extra cash but also requires maintenance plus mortgages, tax payments, and other costs. 

Precious Metals

A classic form of investing is precious metals. Rates of return on equities, bonds, or real estate can fluctuate due to various influences, but precious metals maintain their value.

What Are the Top Skills That Can Help You Earn 100k a Year?

Aside from the specific skills you may already have or decide to acquire, there’s a whole host of general technical and soft skills that will help you achieve your income goals. 

Technical Skills

  • Record-keeping skills. Keeping records of what you do will help you stay organized and efficiently deal with any problems concerning past dealings.
  • Accounting skills. If your goal is to bring in thousands of dollars, you’ll need to stay on top of your annual income and spending.
  • Data skills. Just about everyone can benefit from some basic data collection and analysis skills, whether it’s to help your own business or freelancing or to make yourself more valuable as an employee. 
  • Digital marketing skills. Digital marketing is important for businesses, freelancers, and various side hustles. 

Soft Skills

  • Interpersonal skills. No matter what kind of work you do, strong bonds with colleagues, clients, bosses, and customers will always lead to better opportunities.
  • Communication skills. Get more done with better results in less time by communicating clearly and respectfully. 
  • Organizational skills. Avoid mistakes and stressful situations by organizing and planning accurately.

People Making 100k a Year: Real-Life Examples and Stories To Inspire You

Making Over $100K From Dog Walking

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Former teacher Michael Joseph started a dog-walking business and now earns $120,000 a year. 

Miss Excel

Kat Norton launched her Miss Excel business in 2020, using viral TikTok videos to gain over 1,000,000 followers. With a focused area of knowledge and passion for teaching, she was able to use creative marketing to make millions in revenue. 

Syk Houdeib – From Teaching to Web Development

Read about how Syk Houdeib landed a high-paying career as a front-end developer in just 10 months. He believes there is no one true path to success, it’s your drive and motivation that makes it happen, not how much you can afford to spend on education.

FAQs About How To Make 100K a Year

We’ve got the answers to your most frequently asked questions:

What Are the Best Degrees To Land a 100k Job?

If you want your degree to play a significant role in the job you end up with, focused, career-based courses are the best way to go. Computer science, finance, applied mathematics and statistics, economics, law, and medical school are just a few examples.

Can You Make $100K a Year Without a Degree?

Absolutely! But if you don’t have a degree, consider alternative forms of education. Immersive online bootcamps can help you launch a $100K career in areas like software development, data science, cybersecurity, UX design, and tech sales.

How Can I Make $100K a Year Working From Home?

E-commerce-based side hustles can be a great way to make money from home. Dropshipping businesses, art prints, and homemade crafts are all popular options. You can also develop a skill and become a freelancer in areas such as writing, programming, marketing, security, analytics, or sales. Or, consider remote work jobs.

Can You Retire on 100k a Year?

Retirement expenses vary from person to person. A lot depends on how long you maintain your $100K a year earnings, and whether they’re coming from a high-salary job with a pension attached. Overall, if you plan well, take advantage of 401(k)s, and save plenty, then you can retire on $100K a year.

Since you’re here…
Were you one of the tens of thousands of workers impacted by this year’s tech layoffs? Springboard wants to help. Our new Career Reboot Scholarship is intended to assist job seekers from tech looking to upskill, reskill and stand out in a competitive hiring environment. Get $1,000 off any Springboard bootcamp in software engineering, data analytics, UX design, cybersecurity, tech sales, and more. Visit this page for eligibility requirements and to apply.

About Monica J. White

Monica is a journalist with a lifelong interest in technology, from PC hardware to software and programming. She first started writing over ten years ago and has made a career out of it. Now, her focus is centered around technology and explaining complex concepts to a broader audience.