A Special Kind of Income Poll: What Do You Think is Good Money versus Average and Sub-Par?

This is a different type of income poll and it requires some of your personal information but not your specific income. The idea is to identify for specific comparison group in your geographic area and say what you THINK is a good income for your group, an average one, and a bottom number that is still reasonable for a working person in your group but barely manageable all things considered. In other words, if you were at a party and people got really drunk and played Truth or Dare and were posed this question, what would you consider normal, impressive, or below normal.

You also want to discount the outliers and special situations as well. Internet millionaires can be young but forget about those. It is just people in your very general class of job but not necessarily your specific one.

I will go first:
Divorced with two kids
IT Professional
Boston area
37 years old

Average: mid 70K
Good: Over 100K
Sub Par: Below 60K

The reason I ask is salary surveys can distort things a great deal. I want to know what people that live in these places and work different types of jobs think. This is a purely informal poll and not going to be used for anything commercially or academically. I am just curious about your impressions.

IT Professional
Washington, DC Area
30 Years old
Average: mid 60K
Good: Over 100K
Sub Par: Below 40K

Soon to be Married
Software Engineer
28 years old.
Upstate NY
Average 70k
Good 90-100k
Subpar < 65k


Civil Engineer
Central Mississippi
51 years old

For staff engineers of my age, I’d say:

Average: 75-95 k
Good: 100-120 k
Sub Par: below 70 k

A business owner such as myself should probably pull another 20k a year, depending on the size of the company. I don’t, because I don’t have an army of minions churning out a brazillion projects a month for me.

That’s just my guess though. I used to have a good feel for it (with the help of published salary surveys) but since the crash, who knows.

Scientist (for the state…I think that’s an important qualifier)
Central VA
33 years old

Average: 50K
Good 60K-75K
Subpart: below 45K

I FINALLY got a salary increase that lifts me out of “subpar”. So yay me.

(Fuck everyone who thinks state employees are overpaid.)

Married, no kids
Foreign aid worker
Washington, DC

Average: 75k
Good: 110k and up
Subpar: under 60k

This is hard to do for my industry because entry level pay is just crap even with a MA, but I broke it down for someone with my level of experience and responsibilities.

Computing researcher
Corn belt
30 years old

Average: 70K
Good: >100K
Sub Par: <40K

Having said that, before I got my industry job I worked post-docs for 30K. The numbers above are for my job specifically… if it was for people my age in this area IN GENERAL the numbers would be lower. More like 40K average and below 30K subpar.

Manufacturing Engineer
SE Michigan
Late 30s

Average: 80K
Good: >90K
Sub Par: <60K

That applies to people in my peer group at my general, non-management grade.

I do associate with people outside of the workplace, and in comparison we’re generally very well compensated. I’d say the non-direct-automotive in the area would fall into the following:

Average: 45K
Good: >60K
Sub Par: <35K

IT Manager

Average: 90K
Good: >100K
Sub Par: <75K

Married with kid
Snowmobile salesman

Average: 35k
Good: 50k
Sub Par: <35k

Married, no kids
Software Developer
Rural south-western Virginia
25 years old

Average: $40,000
Good: More than $50,000
Sub Par: Less than $35,000

All of these are values are much higher than the average salary in this area, but they are specific to my job. There are no other high tech jobs in the area.

No kids
Legal Support Staff
24 years old

Average: 25k-30k
Good: > 35-40k
Sub Par: < 20k

Also, a 30-60 minute drive into the city would make all of these numbers go up by at least 5k.

Petroleum Engineer
San Juan Basin
28 years old

Average: 100K
Good: Over 130K
Sub Par: Below 80K

Most people around my age have cleared the 6 figure hurdle and if they hadn’t I would definitely wonder why. As far as sub par most of the starting salaries are about 80 now so if you making less or barely more then a kid fresh out of school I’d say you were barely making it. On the other hand if you base salary is already over 130K and you’re just and engineer I’d wonder who you were sleeping with. Of course these numbers vary widely from every other profession.

Single, no pets or kids
Call center
Chicago suburbs
26 years old

Average: 25-30k
Good: Over 40k
Sub Par: Below 20K

This only applies to other young single childless people who may or may not have pets, since those are the people with whom I tend to be acquainted. If it’s a married couple or someone with kids, those numbers go out the window.

Married, 2 kids, both now independent
Computer Designer
Silicon Valley

Average: 95K
Good: > 125K
Sub Par: Below 70 K