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How Much You Need To Earn To Rank in the Top 10% of Your State

John Csiszar
·11 min read
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

By definition, there will always be a significant gap between what the median wage is in a state versus what the top 10% earn. However, the size of this gap can vary widely depending on where you live. For example, if you live in New York or Washington, D.C., you’ll need to earn about four times the median income to crack the top 10%. In other states, like Utah, top 10% incomes are exactly three times as large as median salaries.

Find Out: How Do You Stack Up To the Average Income in Your State?

To help highlight the disparities, GOBankingRates analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data from the 2019 American Community Survey to determine quintile mean income and the amount earned by the top 10% of earners in each state. States were ranked from the smallest salaries earned by the top 10% to the largest.

What’s clear is that both the median income and the salary earned by the top 10% in each state can vary considerably. If you’re looking to earn more and have some flexibility, you can check out the average salaries in nearby states to see if you might be able to boost your income. Even if you remain in your home state, there are plenty of entry-level jobs that pay far above the median incomes listed below.

Last updated: Feb. 15, 2021

West Virginia
West Virginia

51. West Virginia

  • Median income: $48,850

  • Top 10% income: $163,240

In West Virginia, the top 10% earns 234% — or $114,390 — more than the median income.

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Downtown street in Jackson, Mississippi with the state capitol building.
Downtown street in Jackson, Mississippi with the state capitol building.

50. Mississippi

  • Median income: $45,792

  • Top 10% income: $169,318

Mississippi has the lowest median income in America, but the wealthy still do well on a relative basis, earning 270% more than the average earner.

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Fayetteville is the third-largest city in Arkansas and county seat of Washington County.
Fayetteville is the third-largest city in Arkansas and county seat of Washington County.

49. Arkansas

  • Median income: $48,952

  • Top 10% income: $173,941

Top earners in Arkansas do much better than average, earning 255% more than the median income.

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Birmingham Alabama
Birmingham Alabama

48. Alabama

  • Median income: $51,734

  • Top 10% income: $180,469

Alabama, like many states in the South, has a tremendous wealth gap between average earners and the top 10%, who pull down 249% more than the median income.

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Downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico at dusk.
Downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico at dusk.

47. New Mexico

  • Median income: $51,945

  • Top 10% income: $181,940

The Land of Enchantment doesn’t have a very high median income, but earners in the top 10% pull down 250% more than the average earner.

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, USA - JUNE 12, 2016: Louisville, located on the banks of the Ohio River, is home to the Kentucky Derby and the hometown of Muhammad Ali.
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY, USA - JUNE 12, 2016: Louisville, located on the banks of the Ohio River, is home to the Kentucky Derby and the hometown of Muhammad Ali.

46. Kentucky

  • Median income: $52,295

  • Top 10% income: $183,549

Top earners in the Bluegrass State earn $131,254 more on average than the median earner, amounting to a 251% jump.

Deadwood South Dakota
Deadwood South Dakota

45. South Dakota

  • Median income: $59,533

  • Top 10% income: $184,714

The gap between average and top earners in South Dakota is more equitable than in some states, reaching just 210%.

Boise Idaho
Boise Idaho

44. Idaho

  • Median income: $60,999

  • Top 10% income: $188,036

Median earnings in Idaho crack the $60,000 barrier, but top earners net 208% more.

Louisiana
Louisiana

43. Louisiana

  • Median income: $51,073

  • Top 10% income: $190,038

Louisiana has one of the lowest median incomes in the nation, but the top 10% still does quite well. This translates to a relatively large 272% gap between the two.

Portland is the largest city in the state of Maine located on a penninsula extended into the scenic Casco Bay.
Portland is the largest city in the state of Maine located on a penninsula extended into the scenic Casco Bay.

42. Maine

  • Median income: $58,924

  • Top 10% income: $190,606

Relatively speaking, the gap between top 10% earners and median earners isn’t huge in Maine, amounting to just 223%.

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Missoula, United States - May 13, 2016: The downtown area of this college town in Montana is clean, lined with business and historic buildings.
Missoula, United States - May 13, 2016: The downtown area of this college town in Montana is clean, lined with business and historic buildings.

41. Montana

  • Median income: $57,153

  • Top 10% income: $191,819

The top 10% in Big Sky country earn about 3.36 times the median income, an increase of about 236%.

Downtown Tulsa skyline in the background with a park with a waterway and fountain in the foreground.
Downtown Tulsa skyline in the background with a park with a waterway and fountain in the foreground.

40. Oklahoma

  • Median income: $54,449

  • Top 10% income: $192,061

If you’re in the top 10% of income earners in Oklahoma, you pull down about 253% more than the median income.

Des Moines skyline view with Downtown Des Moines, elevated view.
Des Moines skyline view with Downtown Des Moines, elevated view.

39. Iowa

  • Median income: $61,691

  • Top 10% income: $192,979

The gap between median and top earners in Iowa isn’t as large as in many states, amounting to just 213%.

Indiana
Indiana

38. Indiana

  • Median income: $57,603

  • Top 10% income: $193,279

The top 10% in Indiana earn about $135,000 more than the median annually, or about 236% more.

11428, 20s, Horizontal, Missouri, St. Louis, United States, trips, vacation
11428, 20s, Horizontal, Missouri, St. Louis, United States, trips, vacation

37. Missouri

  • Median income: $57,409

  • Top 10% income: $194,185

The gap between top and median earners in Missouri is about average, amounting to $136,776, or 238%.

Cheyenne, United States - September 22, 2015: Downtown Cheyenne street scene with historic buildings and car with driver in an intersection.
Cheyenne, United States - September 22, 2015: Downtown Cheyenne street scene with historic buildings and car with driver in an intersection.

36. Wyoming

  • Median income: $65,003

  • Top 10% income: $196,029

Wyoming has one of the smallest gaps in the nation between its median earners and its top 10%, amounting to just 202%.

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Milwaukee Wisconsin skyline
Milwaukee Wisconsin skyline

35. Wisconsin

  • Median income: $64,168

  • Top 10% income: $197,977

Wisconsin’s top 10% earns 209% more than its median earners on average, a relatively benign ratio.

Nebraska, STATES
Nebraska, STATES

34. Nebraska

  • Median income: $63,229

  • Top 10% income: $197,997

Nebraska’s top earners pull down 213% more than its median earners, which is a relatively low gap on a national basis.

Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina

33. South Carolina

  • Median income: $56,227

  • Top 10% income: $198,951

To jump from the median income to the top 10% of income earners in South Carolina you’d need to earn an additional 254%.

Toledo Ohio
Toledo Ohio

32. Ohio

  • Median income: $58,642

  • Top 10% income: $199,074

If you earn the median income in Ohio and want to jump up to the top 10% of earners, you’ll need to raise your salary by 239%.

Nashville Tennessee
Nashville Tennessee

31. Tennessee

  • Median income: $56,071

  • Top 10% income: $199,456

The $143,385 difference between median and top 10% earners in Tennessee is fairly large on a percentage basis, amounting to a 256% jump.

Vermont
Vermont

30. Vermont

  • Median income: $63,001

  • Top 10% income: $200,816

Median earners in Vermont pull down over $63,000, but the top 10% earns $200,816, amounting to a spread of 219%.

Wichita, Kansas downtown skyline during Autumn, with Autumn trees in the foreground.
Wichita, Kansas downtown skyline during Autumn, with Autumn trees in the foreground.

29. Kansas

  • Median income: $62,087

  • Top 10% income: $200,932

If you’re a top 10% earner in Kansas, you’re pulling down 224% of what median income workers make.

Detroit Skyline, Detroit, Michigan, USA.
Detroit Skyline, Detroit, Michigan, USA.

28. Michigan

  • Median income: $59,584

  • Top 10% income: $201,676

The spread between the median income and the top 10% of earners in Michigan is 238%.

Greensboro North Carolina
Greensboro North Carolina

27. North Carolina

  • Median income: $57,341

  • Top 10% income: $204,129

North Carolina’s top 10% of earners outpace its median income by a fairly large 256%.

Tucson Arizona skyline
Tucson Arizona skyline

26. Arizona

  • Median income: $62,055

  • Top 10% income: $209,819

Top-end salaries start heating up in the Valley of the Sun, where the top 10% earns 238% of the median salary.

Grand Forks is the third-largest city in the State of North Dakota and is the county seat of Grand Forks County.
Grand Forks is the third-largest city in the State of North Dakota and is the county seat of Grand Forks County.

25. North Dakota

  • Median income: $64,577

  • Top 10% income: $209,985

The top 10% of earners in North Dakota pull down 225% more than the median wage.

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Skyscrapers next to a river in Portland.
Skyscrapers next to a river in Portland.

24. Oregon

  • Median income: $67,058

  • Top 10% income: $215,026

If you’re earning a median income in Oregon, you’ll need to pull down about 221% more if you want to crack the top 10%.

Jacksonville, Flordia
Jacksonville, Flordia

23. Florida

  • Median income: $59,227

  • Top 10% income: $217,456

Florida is the first state in the list with a top 10% earning at least $200,000, a significant 267% above the median income.

Sunset over Las Vegas, Nevada
Sunset over Las Vegas, Nevada

22. Nevada

  • Median income: $63,276

  • Top 10% income: $220,208

The Silver State generates a lot of gold for its top 10% earners, who pull down $156,932 more than the state’s median earners.

Macon, Georgia
Macon, Georgia

21. Georgia

  • Median income: $61,980

  • Top 10% income: $222,399

Georgia’s top wage earners greatly outpace the state’s median wage, with the top 10% earning 259% more on average.

Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

20. Pennsylvania

  • Median income: $63,463

  • Top 10% income: $223,499

Pennsylvania’s gap between the top 10% of wage earners and the median income is fairly high on a national basis, at 252%.

Delaware
Delaware

19. Delaware

  • Median income: $70,176

  • Top 10% income: $224,894

The gap between the top 10% and the median income in Delaware stands at $154,718, or 220%.

Salt Lake City panoramic overview in the evening.
Salt Lake City panoramic overview in the evening.

18. Utah

  • Median income: $75,780

  • Top 10% income: $227,022

Utah has a relatively high median income, and this translates into the lowest gap between top and average wage earners in the country. Utah’s top 10% earn just 200% more than the median wage.

Houston Texas skyline at sunset
Houston Texas skyline at sunset

17. Texas

  • Median income: $64,034

  • Top 10% income: $228,924

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and it’s certainly true when it comes to the gap between the median income and the top 10%, which stands at 258%.

Providence is the capital and most populous city in Rhode Island.
Providence is the capital and most populous city in Rhode Island.

16. Rhode Island

  • Median income: $71,169

  • Top 10% income: $228,951

The smallest state in the Union still pays out great wages for both median earners and the top 10%. The gap between the two is smaller than average for the country as a whole, at 222%.

Minneapolis
Minneapolis

15. Minnesota

  • Median income: $74,593

  • Top 10% income: $233,949

Minnesota’s top 10% earns $159,356 more than the median income, a spread of 214%.

Alaska
Alaska

14. Alaska

  • Median income: $75,463

  • Top 10% income: $234,221

Alaska has the one of the smallest spreads between its top 10% earners and its median income in the entire country, at just 210%. The state’s high median income is a main reason why.

Downtown Manchester, New Hampshire
Downtown Manchester, New Hampshire

13. New Hampshire

  • Median income: $77,933

  • Top 10% income: $241,891

New Hampshire has a relatively high median income, and that helps keep the gap between its average wage earners and the top 10% to a very modest 210%.

Chicago Illinois
Chicago Illinois

12. Illinois

  • Median income: $69,187

  • Top 10% income: $245,173

The Land of Lincoln has a pretty wide spread between its top 10% and its median income, at 254%.

Scenic view of Honolulu city
Scenic view of Honolulu city

11. Hawaii

  • Median income: $83,102

  • Top 10% income: $252,492

The Aloha State has one of the tiniest spreads in the nation between its median and top 10% of wage earners, at just 204%.

Denver Colorado
Denver Colorado

10. Colorado

  • Median income: $77,127

  • Top 10% income: $255,114

The thin air of Colorado also seems to contribute to sky-high salaries, with the state’s top 10% earning $177,987 more than its median earners, a spread of 231%.

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Afternoon Traffic in the Streets of Downtown Seattle on a Sunny Day.
Afternoon Traffic in the Streets of Downtown Seattle on a Sunny Day.

9. Washington

  • Median income: $78,687

  • Top 10% income: $262,118

Washington’s top 10% earns more than $183,431 above the state’s median wage, a spread of 233%.

Lynchburg, Virginia, USA downtown skyline.
Lynchburg, Virginia, USA downtown skyline.

8. Virginia

  • Median income: $76,456

  • Top 10% income: $265,171

Virginia’s top 10% of earners enjoy wages a significant 247% above the state’s median income.

Panoramic image of Baltimore's Federal Hill, overlooking the Inner Harbor and its many tall buildings on a sunny autumn afternoon under a clear blue sky.
Panoramic image of Baltimore's Federal Hill, overlooking the Inner Harbor and its many tall buildings on a sunny autumn afternoon under a clear blue sky.

7. Maryland

  • Median income: $86,738

  • Top 10% income: $280,115

Maryland has one of the highest median incomes in the nation, but its top 10% still earn 223% more.

Lower Manhattan cityscape.
Lower Manhattan cityscape.

6. New York

  • Median income: $72,108

  • Top 10% income: $291,906

New York has the highest disparity in the nation between its median income and that of its top 10%, at a whopping 305%.

San Francisco, California, USA city skyline.
San Francisco, California, USA city skyline.

5. California

  • Median income: $80,440

  • Top 10% income: $295,369

California’s top 10% earns quite a bit more than its median wage earners. The $214,919 disparity translates to a 267% spread.

How Long $1 Million Will Last in Retirement in Every State, Massachusetts, States, USA, United States of America, america, horizonta
How Long $1 Million Will Last in Retirement in Every State, Massachusetts, States, USA, United States of America, america, horizonta

4. Massachusetts

  • Median income: $85,843

  • Top 10% income: $299,188

The disparity between what the top 10% makes versus the median income in Massachusetts stands at 249%.

New Jersey
New Jersey

3. New Jersey

  • Median income: $85,751

  • Top 10% income: $305,190

Wage disparity in the Garden State is fairly high, with the top 10% drawing 256% more than median wage earners.

Bridgeport is the most populous city in the American state of Connecticut.
Bridgeport is the most populous city in the American state of Connecticut.

2. Connecticut

  • Median income: $78,833

  • Top 10% income: $306,153

Wages are high in Connecticut, but so is the spread between the top 10% and the median income. At $227,320, that disparity translates to 288%.

11216, 11301, Horizontal, States, Washington DC, america, capital
11216, 11301, Horizontal, States, Washington DC, america, capital

1. District of Columbia

  • Median income: $92,266

  • Top 10% income: $361,695

The top 10% in the District of Columbia make $269,429 more than the average worker. This wage gap — 292% more than the median salary — is the largest wage gap in terms of absolute dollars in the country.

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Methodology: GOBankingRates used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2019 American Community Survey on the mean income in the top quintile (20%) of earners to estimate earnings for the top 10%. GOBankingRates then compared this figure to the overall median household income in the U.S. for context. All data was collected on and up to date as of November 25, 2020.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: How Much You Need To Earn To Rank in the Top 10% of Your State