Updated November 15, 2021
Imagine if you could make 100,000 a year. That’s 8,333 per month. 1,923 per week.
This post will teach you how to make 100k a year.
When I first broke the 100k mark, it was huge! I still remember my palms shaking when I had the guts to say the number out loud.
I don’t know why breaking six figures was so symbolic for me. Maybe it was because I grew up relatively poor, in a town where the people who made 100k were the rich ones. Breaking that six figure mark was symbolic of a lot for me.
So why is it that so many students, even students who spent a long time in degrees studying really hard, are still poor. How come we’re not earning what we’re worth?
If you want to know how to make six figures, I want you to hear this.
No matter what degree you have, there’s a path for you. And if you have an advanced degree, even better!
I know this is a touchy subject. And yes, I know there are people screaming into their computer screens or phones right now. Maybe you’ve been out of your degree for 10 or 20 years and have never made over $50k. I see you.
But just because you never have made $100,000 doesn’t mean you never will!
It’s time to take your earning seriously and devote yourself to making more money. This might mean getting over your money blocks, and ALL of us have some.
If breaking six figures is important to you, these
Here are 7 strategies that will start you learning how to make 100k a year. But you don’t need to do them all. Even one of these done well will get you there. Here’s how to make six figures.
If you prefer to watch–here’s the video!
How to make 6 figures
- Learn to do things few people can do
- Learn to do complicated things
- Become a thought leader in your field
- Never stop job hunting
- Become an entrepreneur
- Start a side hustle
- Choose high-paying fields
1. Learn to do things few people can do (AKA scarcity)
Not sure if you took an Economics 101 class, but it’s important to remember that things that are needed or desired but not plentiful are valuable. You know this if you’ve ever tried to hire a plumber or buy a diamond ring.
On the other hand, there are things that are plentiful but not really needed. Yes, I’m sorry to say my liberal arts degree fit into this category.
Thousands of people had the EXACT SAME degree as me.
But that’s okay! Because once you understand the principle of scarcity, or maybe a better way to say this is, to recognize where the skills demands are, you can build a complementary skill set to your degree that makes you super valuable.
Finding the scarcity in your skill set is a tricky equation. Everybody thinks that they can write, so most employers aren’t impressed that you’ve got “writing” listed as a skill on your resume.
But when the day comes that you write a report in half an hour and it’s persuasive, compelling, and impeccable, they take notice.
I love to write blog posts, which is worth something. But I also know SEO REALLY WELL, which means that my skill set is in huge demand in the marketplace.
You need to find your scarcity factor! Figure out which of your skills or competencies is in highest demand.
Part of this will be realizing how you can lean into things you do well that are in high demand.
- If you can manage projects well and enjoy doing it, lean into that!
- If you have knowledge of AI that’s in huge demand, lean into that.
Figure out what you can do exceptionally well and get better at it (as long as there’s a market for it).
- Think about which of your skills or competencies are in high demand
- Take stock of all your skills (not just academic) to try to evaluate how you bring value (Read this post on transferable skills and this one on high value skills your degree gave you)
- Identify the skills or experiences you might want to gain to make yourself more valuable
2. Learn to do complicated things (AKA complexity)
So you want to know how to make 100,000 dollars a year? The second principle of making yourself valuable in the marketplace with an advanced degree is complexity.
One of the byproducts of your degree might be the ability to deal with complexity in a way that a lot of people can’t. You will see the big picture of what a 300-page manuscript is trying to accomplish, but you’ll also notice the tiny grammatical error right in front of you.
Handling complexity with minimal supervision is highly valued in the marketplace. It’s what managers, presidents, CEOs, and other leaders do all day every day. They look at organizations as a whole, understand how each part works, and drive it forward in such a way that it works together.
You might have this ability.
You just need to stop trying to apply it to Chaucer and start learning to apply it to the marketplace. Learn some business basics. Take some finance courses (I did this OpenYale course when I was in my PhD and loved it). Take a project management course.
Really, just find ways to show that you handle complexity in organizations–whether complex projects, managing people, or dealing with budgets.
3. Become a thought leader in your field
Serve as many people as possible. This is the principle of SCALE.
The more people you can impact, the more money you can make.
The more people you impact, the more money you make. Ok, this is not a perfect science. But impact and influence are the core of leadership and are directly linked to your input and ideas being highly desired.
I know some people who are leaders in their field, internationally respected. One, for example, whose specialty is AI, gets invited to nearly every round-table across the country. There are those who are thought leaders, who can consult at a rate of $1,000 a day. They command massive sums wherever they go and are in demand. Organizations clamor to make sure their name is on a report on their area of knowledge, because if X is on it, it’s good.
This, my friends, is a product of growing your knowledge in an area and learning to share it with as many people as possible. It comes from being a thought leader in your field combined with having a platform made up of lots of people who respect you (scale).
There are other ways to achieve scale too. Maybe you’ll become a public educator or write a book. The more people you influence, the more money you can make.
And this doesn’t mean you have to be a celebrity! If you become the person in your company that everyone comes to for advice on X, you will be serving more people.
If this is what you want to be, start building yourself as a thought leader now.
Start posting on LinkedIn, grow a following, and just basically get yourself out there.
4. Never stop job hunting
This may sound a bit cynical, but you’re unlikely to start at the bottom of a company and work your way up. If you do, great, but I call it like I see it.
You should constantly be growing your skills and value, but one of the quickest ways to get a pay raise is to get a better job.
Never stop job hunting.
NOW, I don’t mean handing out resumes all the time!
If you’re read any of my career advice, you know that I rarely advocate the mass-resume strategy. Instead, focus on connecting with new people, building your personal brand on LinkedIn, and networking.
Yes, these activities are “job hunting,” just as much as applying through an online portal is job hunting.
One of the quickest ways to get a raise is to change jobs. Employees who stay in the same job longer than 2 years earn 50% less over their lifetime.
I’ve seen this play out in my career too. I once worked a job that paid $75,000, and I was TERRIFIED to make the jump and leave.
“What if I never make this much again,” I told myself as I cried myself to sleep at night.
My next job broke $100k, and it was offered TO ME by text message.
Yes, it’s terrifying. And I’m not saying quit your job tomorrow. But I am saying to always be open and ready for new opportunities.
5. Become an entrepreneur
Let me tell you something.
When you sell your time to an employer, they usually get the better value. Do you think they’d keep you around if they didn’t? They can sell your labor for a premium that makes them money off of the difference. If they couldn’t do this, you’d be laid off pretty quick.
You trade your actual value for the security of a paycheck and a pension. And the employer takes the risk–but also gets the reward.
If you’re willing to forego a bit of security to start your own business and take control of your labor, you may make what you’re worth.
But let me tell you, most entrepreneurs break even or lose money!
Entrepreneurship offers unlimited potential! But it also offers unlimited downside!
That’s why, although I love it in principle, if you’ve never been an entrepreneur I’d recommend starting a side hustle (below) to get your feet wet and learn, before quitting to go all in.
However, once you’ve mastered scarcity or complexity through a high-demand skill or competency (above), especially if you’ve risen as far as you can go with that skill in your job, it’s worth thinking about entrepreneurship.
One of the most lucrative careers for people with advanced degrees, say master’s or PhDs is consulting. In this situation, you basically become self-employed and sell research, projects, advice, you name it to an employer for somewhere around the actual cost of what your labor is worth.
6. Start a side hustle
We live in an age of side hustles. If you have time and energy left at the end of your day job, it might be worth considering a side hustle!
This doesn’t mean burning yourself out by cramming every waking hour with work. (I reflected in this post on how hustle culture can be damaging.)
If you want to use a side hustle to get up over $100k a year, you’ve got to be realistic. If you make $30,000 a year at your day job, it’s going to be REALLY HARD to push an extra $70k with your side hustle. It’s possible, of course, but not easy.
Stories of people making $10k/month with their side hustles are the exception, not the rule.
Be strategic about your side hustle, and how much you can ACTUALLY make. I know someone who bakes and sells cupcakes. It’s a labor of love, and that’s great! But since she sells about 200 cupcakes a month for $2 per cupcake, there’s no way it will EVER make more than a few hundreds dollars a month.
Choose a side hustle that’s lucrative and in high demand. One of the reasons I chose blogging as my side hustle is that this website keeps on truckin’ whether I’m here or not. Even if I go on vacation for a few weeks, it keeps generating traffic and revenue.
That’s why it’s one of my favorite passive income sources!
7. Choose high-paying fields
One final key to breaking the $100k mark is to actually go where the money is. In some fields, breaking $100k doesn’t take that much. I’d think of tech, where high valuations and recurring revenue means tech companies can just pay more than others.
I’ve worked in non-profits too, and while the work was meaningful to me, it was never going to pay a lot of money (incidentally my non non-profit work hasn’t been any less meaningful to me). We all make choices, and that’s cool. But if you’re banging your head against the wall of a low-paying industry, you’re wasting your time.
So these are some of the things to consider if you want to know how to make $100k a year.
We all have the same value as individuals, but we don’t all have the same value in the marketplace. Learn to maximize your value and you’ll have a great career.
There’s no shame in wanting to earn what you’re worth, so don’t apologize for it. Keep growing and learning, and you’ll get there! Good luck!