U.S. Markets closed
  • S&P 500

    3,629.65
    -5.76 (-0.16%)
     
  • Dow 30

    29,872.47
    -173.77 (-0.58%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    12,094.40
    +57.62 (+0.48%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    1,845.02
    -8.51 (-0.46%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    45.95
    +0.24 (+0.53%)
     
  • Gold

    1,808.00
    +2.50 (+0.14%)
     
  • Silver

    23.42
    +0.06 (+0.25%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.1932
    +0.0013 (+0.1074%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    0.8780
    -0.0040 (-0.45%)
     
  • Vix

    21.25
    -0.39 (-1.80%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3389
    +0.0007 (+0.0509%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    104.3200
    -0.1200 (-0.1149%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    17,762.56
    -906.82 (-4.86%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    346.41
    -24.11 (-6.51%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    6,391.09
    -41.08 (-0.64%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    26,476.81
    +179.95 (+0.68%)
     

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

John Csiszar
·11 min read
Jacksonville, Flordia
Jacksonville, Flordia

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 four times the median income to crack the top 10%. In other states, like Alaska, top 10% incomes are less than three times as large as median salaries.

To help highlight the disparities, GOBankingRates analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data from the 2018 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: Nov. 11, 2020

West Virginia
West Virginia

51. West Virginia

  • Median income: $44,921

  • Top 10% income: $152,331

In West Virginia, the top 10% earns 239.1% — or $107,410 — more than the median income.

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

50. Mississippi

  • Median income: $43,567

  • Top 10% income: $153,749

Mississippi has the lowest median income in America, but the wealthy still do well on a relative basis, earning 252.9% more than the average earner.

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: $45,726

  • Top 10% income: $164,428

Top earners in Arkansas do much better than average, earning 259.6% more than the median income.

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

48. New Mexico

  • Median income: $48,059

  • Top 10% income: $169,372

The Land of Enchantment doesn’t have a very high median income, but earners in the top 10% pull down 252.4% 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.

47. Kentucky

  • Median income: $48,392

  • Top 10% income: $170,704

Top earners in the Bluegrass State earn about $122,000 more on average than the median earner, amounting to a 252.8% jump.

Birmingham Alabama
Birmingham Alabama

46. Alabama

  • Median income: $48,486

  • Top 10% income: $171,420

Alabama, like many states in the South, has a tremendous wealth gap between average earners and the top 10%, who pull down 253.5% more than the median income.

Know What You Need: This Is the Living Wage You Need in All 50 States

Boise Idaho
Boise Idaho

45. Idaho

  • Median income: $53,089

  • Top 10% income: $172,350

Median earnings in Idaho crack the $50,000 barrier, but top earners net 224.6% more.

Indiana
Indiana

44. Indiana

  • Median income: $54,325

  • Top 10% income: $174,949

The top 10% in Indiana earn about $120,000 more than the median annually, or about 222% more.

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.

43. Montana

  • Median income: $52,559

  • Top 10% income: $176,049

The top 10% in Big Sky country earn about 3.3 times the median income, an increase of about 235%.

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.

42. Oklahoma

  • Median income: $51,424

  • Top 10% income: $176,435

If you’re in the top 10% of income earners in Oklahoma, you pull down about 243% more than the median income.

Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina

41. South Carolina

  • Median income: $51,015

  • Top 10% income: $177,382

To jump from the median income to the top 10% of income earners in South Carolina you’d need to earn an additional 247.7%.

Deadwood South Dakota
Deadwood South Dakota

40. South Dakota

  • Median income: $56,499

  • Top 10% income: $178,089

The gap between average and top earners in South Dakota is more equitable than in some states, reaching just 215.2%.

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.

39. Maine

  • Median income: $55,425

  • Top 10% income: $178,477

Relatively speaking, the gap between top 10% earners and median earners isn’t huge in Maine, amounting to just 222%.

Find Out: Best Place To Live on a $100,000 Salary in Every State

Louisiana
Louisiana

38. Louisiana

  • Median income: $47,942

  • Top 10% income: $179,163

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 273.7% gap between the two.

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

37. Iowa

  • Median income: $58,580

  • Top 10% income: $182,027

The gap between median and top earners in Iowa isn’t as large as in many states, amounting to just 210.7%.

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

36. Missouri

  • Median income: $53,560

  • Top 10% income: $182,811

The gap between top and median earners in Missouri is about average, amounting to $129,251, or 241.3%.

Nashville Tennessee
Nashville Tennessee

35. Tennessee

  • Median income: $50,972

  • Top 10% income: $183,902

The $132,930 difference between median and top 10% earners in Tennessee is fairly large on a percentage basis, amounting to a 260.8% jump.

Toledo Ohio
Toledo Ohio

34. Ohio

  • Median income: $54,533

  • Top 10% income: $184,863

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%.

Nebraska, STATES
Nebraska, STATES

33. Nebraska

  • Median income: $59,116

  • Top 10% income: $185,877

Nebraska’s top earners pull down 214.4% more than its median earners, which is a relatively low gap on a national basis.

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.

32. Wyoming

  • Median income: $62,268

  • Top 10% income: $186,335

Wyoming has one of the smallest gaps in the nation between its median earners and its top 10%, amounting to just 199.2%.

Less Money Than You Think: You Might Actually Be Able To Afford a Mansion in These 20 States

Milwaukee Wisconsin skyline
Milwaukee Wisconsin skyline

31. Wisconsin

  • Median income: $59,209

  • Top 10% income: $187,793

Wisconsin’s top 10% earns 217.2% more than its median earners on average, a relatively benign ratio.

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

30. Michigan

  • Median income: $54,938

  • Top 10% income: $188,792

The spread between the median income and the top 10% of earners in Michigan is 243.6%.

Greensboro North Carolina
Greensboro North Carolina

29. North Carolina

  • Median income: $52,413

  • Top 10% income: $188,918

North Carolina’s top 10% of earners outpace its median income by a fairly large 260.4%.

Vermont
Vermont

28. Vermont

  • Median income: $60,076

  • Top 10% income: $189,420

Median earners in Vermont pull down over $60,000, but the top 10% earns $129,344, amounting to a spread of 215.3%.

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

27. Nevada

  • Median income: $57,598

  • Top 10% income: $190,962

The Silver State generates a lot of gold for its top 10% earners, who pull down $133,364 more than the state’s median earners, a gain of 231.5%.

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

26. Kansas

  • Median income: $57,422

  • Top 10% income: $192,008

If you’re a top 10% earner in Kansas, you’re pulling down 234.4% of what median income workers make.

Compare: How Do You Stack Up to the Average Income in Your State?

Tucson Arizona skyline
Tucson Arizona skyline

25. Arizona

  • Median income: $56,213

  • Top 10% income: $194,420

Top-end salaries start heating up in the Valley of the Sun, where the top 10% earns 245.9% of the median salary.

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

24. Oregon

  • Median income: $59,393

  • Top 10% income: $198,794

If you’re earning a median income in Oregon, you’ll need to pull down about 234.7% more if you want to crack the top 10%.

Jacksonville, Flordia
Jacksonville, Flordia

23. Florida

  • Median income: $53,267

  • Top 10% income: $200,408

Florida is the first state in the list with a top 10% earning at least $200,000, a significant 276.2% above the median income.

Macon, Georgia
Macon, Georgia

22. Georgia

  • Median income: $55,679

  • Top 10% income: $202,458

Georgia’s top wage earners greatly outpace the state’s median wage, with the top 10% earning 263.6% more on average.

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

21. Utah

  • Median income: $68,374

  • Top 10% income: $204,295

Utah has a relatively high median income, and this translates into one of the lowest gaps between top and average wage earners in the country. Utah’s top 10% earn just 198.8% more than the median wage.

Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

20. Pennsylvania

  • Median income: $59,445

  • Top 10% income: $205,775

Pennsylvania’s gap between the top 10% of wage earners and the median income is fairly high on a national basis, at 246.2%.

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.

19. North Dakota

  • Median income: $63,473

  • Top 10% income: $206,959

The top 10% of earners in North Dakota pull down 226% more than the median wage.

Affordable Locations: Best Places To Live On a $50,000 Salary in Every State

Delaware
Delaware

18. Delaware

  • Median income: $65,627

  • Top 10% income: $213,499

The gap between the top 10% and the median income in Delaware stands at $147,872, or 225.3%.

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

17. Rhode Island

  • Median income: $63,296

  • Top 10% income: $215,077

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 about average for the country as a whole, at 239.8%.

Houston Texas skyline at sunset
Houston Texas skyline at sunset

16. Texas

  • Median income: $59,570

  • Top 10% income: $216,850

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 264%.

Minneapolis
Minneapolis

15. Minnesota

  • Median income: $68,411

  • Top 10% income: $221,515

Minnesota’s top 10% earns $153,104 more than the median income, a spread of 223.8%.

Alaska
Alaska

14. Alaska

  • Median income: $76,715

  • Top 10% income: $223,072

Alaska has the smallest spread between its top 10% earners and its median income in the entire country, at just 190.8%. The state’s high median income is a main reason why.

Chicago Illinois
Chicago Illinois

13. Illinois

  • Median income: $63,575

  • Top 10% income: $228,305

The Land of Lincoln has a pretty wide spread between its top 10% and its median income, at 259.1%.

Downtown Manchester, New Hampshire
Downtown Manchester, New Hampshire

12. New Hampshire

  • Median income: $74,057

  • Top 10% income: $228,783

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 208.9%.

Denver Colorado
Denver Colorado

11. Colorado

  • Median income: $68,811

  • Top 10% income: $228,845

The thin air of Colorado also seems to contribute to sky-high salaries, with the state’s top 10% earning $160,034 more than its median earners, a spread of 232.6%.

Be Aware: 20 Jobs You’re Most (and Least) Likely To Live Paycheck to Paycheck

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

10. Washington

  • Median income: $70,116

  • Top 10% income: $231,623

Washington’s top 10% earns more than $160,000 above the state’s median wage, a spread of 230.3%.

Scenic view of Honolulu city
Scenic view of Honolulu city

9. Hawaii

  • Median income: $78,084

  • Top 10% income: $237,510

The Aloha State has one of the tiniest spreads in the nation between its median and top 10% of wage earners, at just 204.2%.

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

8. Virginia

  • Median income: $71,564

  • Top 10% income: $246,483

Virginia’s top 10% of earners enjoy wages a significant 244.4% 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: $81,868

  • Top 10% income: $261,559

Maryland has one of the highest median incomes in the nation, but its top 10% still earn 219.5% more.

Lower Manhattan cityscape.
Lower Manhattan cityscape.

6. New York

  • Median income: $65,323

  • Top 10% income: $264,181

New York has one of the highest disparities in the nation between its median income and that of its top 10%, at a whopping 304.4%.

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

5. California

  • Median income: $71,228

  • Top 10% income: $264,593

California’s top 10% earns quite a bit more than its median wage earners. The $193,365 disparity translates to a 271.5% 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: $77,378

  • Top 10% income: $273,072

The disparity between what the top 10% makes versus the median income in Massachusetts stands at 252.9%.

New Jersey
New Jersey

3. New Jersey

  • Median income: $79,363

  • Top 10% income: $282,085

Wage disparity in the Garden State is fairly high, with the top 10% drawing 255.4% 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: $76,106

  • Top 10% income: $289,818

Wages are high in Connecticut, but so is the spread between the top 10% and the median income. At $213,712, that disparity translates to 280.8%.

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

1. District of Columbia

  • Median income: $82,604

  • Top 10% income: $334,441

The top 10% in the District of Columbia make $251,837 more than the average worker. This wage gap — 304.9% more than the median salary — is the largest in the country.

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the income needed to be among the top 10% of earners in each state by analyzing U.S. Census Bureau data from the 2018 American Community Survey, including quintile mean income (quintile means fifths aka 20% intervals), quintile income lower-limits and median income. All data was collected on and up to date as of Aug. 3, 2020.

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