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.

More from Work & Money

Watch

R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Documentary
Five love stories behind diverse, multicultural marriages.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Life experiments, 5 days at a time.
Watch Now
Fashion
The style of subculture.
Watch Now
Beauty
Viral trends, tried and tested.
Watch Now
Documentary
From vibrators to lipstick, learn how your favorite products are made.
Watch Now
Documentary
Extraordinary, one-of-a-kind individuals
Watch Now
Documentary
The latest stories to watch.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Inside the homes of millennial women — & what they paid for them
Watch Now
Comedy
Let's talk about sex, baby.
Watch Now
Documentary
Female artisans around the world
Watch Now
Politics
Made by and for smart, opinionated women.
Watch Now
Film
We helped 12 female directors claim their power.