As a child, it was easy to fantasize about the many things that would symbolize reaching success.
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Perhaps it was being able to buy any clothing you liked without having to look at the price tag, or if you were really aspirational, a collection of vintage sports cars, or (probably more realistically) being able to buy as much candy as you could carry home.
But now, all grownup and more aware of how much money is needed just to get by, young adults have put an exact figure on how much money they would need to earn to feel like they’ve made it
Invoicing software firm Skynova collected state-level data from the IPUMS Current Population Survey (CPS) for those ages 22 to 35 and surveyed 1,000 young adults about their career goals.
The average salary that young adults said would make them feel as if they’ve finally “made it” is $121,553 per year, with Gen Z aiming slightly higher and pining for $124,494 and millennials earmarking $120,902.
If either figure has left you feeling deflated about your own self-worth and accomplishments, don’t panic: Both figures are wildly above what the average American earns, with the median income in 2021 being $69,717.
So it’s unsurprising when aiming so high above the average, that 58% of the two youngest generations of workers are unsatisfied with their current earnings.
Even when thinking of the salary they would like for their current efforts and expertise, millennials and Gen Z are pushing well above the average with a desired pay package between $71,000 and $80,000.
The researchers advise young unsatisfied professionals to “keep in mind that they’re near the beginning of their careers, and salaries can increase with experience.”
For those looking to “make it” sooner rather than later, becoming a lawyer, financial services sales agent, or web developer is a good bet, because according to the research, these fields are paying workers between ages 22 and 35 from $120,000 to $150,000.
Top-paying professions for young people
–Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agent ($134,029)
–Web developer ($120,595)
–Architectural and engineering manager ($115,875)
–Software developer ($113,066)
Despite the high pay, 88% of Gen Z respondents said they would not want to be a lawyer.
In fact, the top career paths chosen by young, emerging professionals were nursing, teaching, retail management, customer services, and vehicle driving.
The mismatch between the top-paying jobs and what young workers are actually doing for work, means that most professionals will need to switch careers down the line if they want to feel as if they’ve made it.
Alternatively, researchers suggest pushing for a pay rise—although, as over half of the respondents haven’t received a raise in the past year, it’s unlikely employers will splash out six-figure salaries overnight.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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