Adulting Career

How to Aim For a Six-Figure Job After College

September 24, 2021

Some folks assume you need a postgraduate degree and years of experience to land a job that pays a high salary. That’s one way of earning well, but it’s not the only way. You can aim for a six-figure job relatively soon after college—and it’s possible to do so with a bachelor’s degree.

Look at a few interesting statistics and examples of well-paying jobs and learn salary negotiation tips below.

What the Statistics Show

A National Association of Colleges and Employers study found that the average graduate earns $45,478 after graduation. Of course, some majors attract bigger average salaries. Look at engineering graduates, for example. Their average salary after graduation is $64,367, which is 42% higher.

Hang on—those are five-figure salaries. Are six figures possible, or are they just a fantasy? The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says it is. According to BLS, the average worker with a bachelor’s degree earns $60,112 per year, while the highest-paying bachelor’s degree jobs offer six-figure salaries.

Examples of High-Paying Jobs

The following jobs require a bachelor’s degree or higher, and they offer annual salaries of more than $100,000. Some positions listed below may also require professional certification.

1. Actuary

Actuaries assist individual clients and businesses to create policies that reduce the cost of risk. This involves the use of financial theory, mathematics, and statistics to assess potential risks and to calculate their financial costs. Most actuaries have a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science, mathematics, statistics, or another analytical field, as well as professional certification. You could make around $108,350 per year.

2. Computer Hardware Engineer

Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and assess memory devices, networks, processors, and other computer components and systems. While many engineers have a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, some have computer science or electrical engineering degrees. According to BLS, you can make around $117,220 per year.

3. Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers use biology, chemistry, math, and physics to design equipment and processes involving chemicals, drugs, food, and fuel. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, and to complete an engineering co-op or an internship. It’s possible to make an average of $108,770 per year.

Your chances of finding better-paying entry-level positions or of moving up the pay-scale quickly improve if you specialize and study further. The size of your salary may also depend on your negotiation skills.

Salary Negotiation Tips

Use the following tips when negotiating your salary.

1. Know your level’s salary range—Research the higher and lower ends of the salary range for your level to keep your negotiations realistic.

2. Don’t take the first offer—Employers usually have additional funds available, so don’t accept the first offer after acing your interview. Keep negotiating until they make a final offer.

3. Let prospective employers know why you want more money—Offering reasons for your desired increase can support your negotiations.

4. Let prospective employers know what other important factors would motivate you to accept an offer—This can include non-salary investment, such as relocation assistance or additional leave days that allow you to take a break and regain focus.

5. Don’t be greedy—Keep your demands in line with what others in similar jobs earn.

Only a very lucky few graduates walk into six-figure jobs after graduation. Others strive to reach that pay level early in their careers, which is possible. Let the tips above inspire you.

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