Earning 6 Figures In Your Twenties Is Totally Possible

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer
In our new series My Salary Story, women with at least 10 years of career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions, and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way.

Here, a 34-year-old insurance claims adjuster who lives in Northern California and learned that advocating for herself pays off big — in the form of a six-figure salary less than a decade after graduation.

Starting Salary: $34,000
Current Salary: $110,000
Years of employment: 13
Biggest salary jump: $18,000
Biggest salary drop: $5,000

Biggest salary regret:
That I didn’t do my research to find out what my position paid. It wasn't until I switched companies that I realized just how big salary discrepancies could be. Glassdoor didn't exist when I started out, but I still should have asked around and gotten a sense of what people in similar positions were getting paid.

Best salary-related advice: Do not be afraid of negotiating and do not be afraid to walk away from something that doesn’t feel right. You should also really consider the “total compensation” package rather than just the salary number. Salary is just a number; it’s those things you don’t necessarily see — a flexible work environment, a generous healthcare plan, or paid parental leave — that could make all the difference.