Like most people, I've often wondered what it must be like to make the big bucks. What do rich people do for work? How much money do they really make? How did they get there?
Well, Reddit user u/mxthicky recently posed the question, "Redditors making $100k or more, what do you do that makes you earn more than $100k/a year, and how long did it take you to get there?"
And people commented with tons of interesting and lucrative careers, some that I hadn't even thought of! Here are some of the top-voted responses:
1. "I am a taxidermy artist (butterflies) and sell my art at expos, traveling to 38 states per year. It took five years but would've been three if COVID hadn't hit."
2. "I'm a data scientist making $125k. I've got a BS in Statistics and a knack for the machine learning stuff, so I got promoted with a raise to six figures after about a year as a data analyst. That was my 'fresh grad' job. I got there more quickly than average, but if you're good at math and think you can do some Python scripting, I would recommend working toward it."
3. "I run fitness bootcamps for companies in the Bay Area, mainly in San Francisco proper. It’s because it’s in SF that it pays over $100k. Probably would not pay that in Des Moines."
4. "Communication tower tech foreman. In other words, I run a crew of tower climbers doing construction, maintenance, and upgrades. I started making $100k about three years ago, so nine years to get there. It requires me to work an average of 60 hours/week for $100k, though. I typically work 75 hours/week. This is not counting bonuses and soft/hard benefits. Adding those up puts me near $200k."
5. "IT director. Started off making $19/hour doing support for multiple clients, big and small, for five years. Then one client, a small municipality, had their IT manager position open up, and they asked me to apply. My pay went from $19/hour to a salary of $65k/year. After four years there, another municipality in the area had their IT director position open up, and I applied. Imposter syndrome hit hard when I got the offer letter."
"I never, ever imagined I would make that much money. I only have an associate's degree in networking and three certifications that are kind of outdated."
6. "Tattoo artist here. This is the first year my take home has hit over $100k, will finish the year at about $115k. This is my fifth year tattooing. The first couple years sucked, but I was 18/19 and had no bills, so I could take the less-than-minimum-wage pay. It takes long hours and a lot of work, but I’d say it’s paid off pretty well!"
7. "Previously worked in hospitality for around 15 years. As a result, my skillset includes being able to 'customer service voice' kinda well. Applied for a position with an insurance company using a résumé that was 90% utter lies. Fast-forward six months, and I've just been offered a role with an internal department that conducts onsite assessments because 'you make the clients laugh more than they want to sue us.' Starting salary was over the $100k mark."
"I do not deserve, nor know how to be responsible with, that kind of income, and I am so f*cking excited for all the terrible life choices it's going to allow me to make."
8. "Hit $200k+ this year. Software development (C/C++) doing automation for a large manufacturing company. Hit $100k about eight years ago, and it's steadily increased with yearly cost of living raises, requested raises, job/role changes within the company, etc."
9. "Doctor. I'm finishing up residency, so I'm making around $70,000/year, but I've been interviewing for jobs, and expected salary would range from $280,000 to $350,000 with bonuses depending on work efficiency. Overall, it took four years of undergraduate, one gap year doing research, four years of medical school, and three years of residency (12 years total starting from undergraduate). Now, if I could just get rid of the $500,000 in student loans..."
10. "Cybersecurity with a niche specialty, $240k, maybe $450k total compensation with private equity. Company is great, unlimited PTO, remote work, full benefits, work on what I want, and do cool shit. Started programming at 26, gentle background in IT."
"2018 — Developer job with an AS — $72k
2019 — Promotion, earned BS — $95k
2020 — Move companies, MS — $140k plus options
2021 — Promotions, management — $175k, more options
2022 — Move companies — $240k plus options."
11. "Industrial millwright in a steel plant. I've been doing it for nearly eight years, but I've had the ability to make $100k+ since I was ticketed. Apprenticeship took three years of school and 8,000 hours of work."
12. "Accounting. It took four and a half years to make $100k. Don't be afraid to change jobs every few years, especially at the beginning of your career. It was on my third job (not including an internship) that I broke 100."
13. "HVAC designer. Started off nearly 20 years ago making $10/hour, knowing nothing about HVAC. Learned a lot, got good, and just crossed to $103k/year. (Really, with benefits, 5% 401k match immediately vested, $3,600 HSA contribution, 75% healthcare premium contribution, etc., I technically passed it a few years ago.)"
14. "College dropout here doing website design and online marketing. Took me about five self-taught years to get to $100k annually."
15. "Team truck driving with my wife. Last year, we cleared $210k, set to make more this year. Two months of truck driving school, and in February, we will hit our five-year mark in this industry. Not bad considering we're both high school dropouts with no college under our belts."
16. "Got a CS degree and became a software developer. But I was a shitty software developer with poor mental health, so I couldn't hold down a job for more than two years before they'd drop me as deadweight. Well, turns out the market for CS degrees is wild right now, and every time I got a new job, I started at $10k-$20k more than the previous one. I failed upwards."
"My friend, who is a very talented programmer but has a math degree, has gotten awards and promotions within the same company for that same span of time and now makes much less than me. They succeeded horizontally."
17. "Nurse, make just over $100k. Took about four years in this field, but I had a previous career and already had a college degree that allowed me to do an accelerated program for school and gave me the soft skills to advance. My wife had a very similar trajectory and salary as a nurse. You can make $100k out of the gate with a two-year nursing degree, but you have to work a lot more hours than either of us do. (Or, you can live and work on the west coast.)"
18. "$120k-$130k here. I am a professional dog walker. No formal qualifications needed, but you need to be a dog person and be able to handle multiple dogs at once. And you need to be level-headed and able to deal with emergencies. I work 10-hour days Monday to Friday and about five hours on Saturdays. I started doing this a year ago because I was burnt out working in IT development. It was supposed to be temporary, but the only thing I miss from my former job is the paycheck."
"I was first just walking my own dog, then I started walking dogs of former coworkers, and then, it just grew. I am at max capacity; the only way to grow this is to make it into a business with employees, but I do not want that."
19. "I'm a product manager, currently make $155,000 annually. It took me about 10 years post-college to even hit six figures. I would typically love my roles, but I could never make significant salary increases unless I jumped to a new company. I would take my employers up on any up-skilling or education they were willing to pay for."
"23 — Design Assistant — $34,000
24 — Designer — $40,000
25 — eBook Designer — $50,000 (switched companies)
29 — Creative Technologist (coded ebooks) — $80,000 (switched companies)
33 — Product Manager (digital publishing) — $97,500
35 — Product Manager (EdTech) — $155,000 (switched companies)."
20. "I’m a pharmacist. I work three 8-hour shifts per week (8-5) and make just under $100k."
21. "Changed jobs every two or so years in a role that’s super niche in finance. Became one of the few with 10+ years of experience. Easy consulting contracts because of my insider knowledge of what big firms do. My first analyst job was around six figures, though; most in finance start out at $100k+."
22. "Healthcare IT. It pays pretty well compared to other way more technical positions. Interesting because I get to work with all types of clinicians from various specialties. It took me less than five years because I went into consulting pretty quickly."
23. And finally, "Wedding photography. Took about seven years. Started out at $1,000 per wedding. 12 years later now, around $4,500-$6,000 per wedding. Shoot around 30-40 weddings per year."
Were you surprised that any of these careers make over $100k? LMK in the comments below!
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.