Being smart with your money is definitely important, but you need to make money in the first place before you spend a ton of time worrying what to do with it. Your income is the foundation of all things personal finance, so why not make it six-figures, and why not do so right now?
In today’s world, there are actually a number of very realistic ways for young people to bring in a six-figure income, but a lot of them require either a specialized degree and good grades (plus some luck in the job search), or a successful entrepreneurial venture, which has its own set of risks.
High-end investment bankers, consultants, lawyers and specialized engineers can all make six-figures in their 20’s, no problem. If you didn’t specialize in those fields in college, go to a top college, and get lucky in the job search, you are out of luck on those.
There are however several jobs out there where you can make six-figures without having ever set foot on a college campus, and those jobs usually have one word in common in the job title: “Sales.”
Making The Switch
18 months ago, I left my cushy business analyst job at Carmax , for a job in technical sales. Specifically, I sell this revolutionary research microscope that goes for roughly $50,000-$250,000 depending on what the researchers need it to do.
I traded a life of no more than 40 hours a week for the grind. The difference is, now it is my grind. Each additional hour that I put in, directly results in getting more $$$ out because I inevitably sell more.
While Keyence is a large, multi-billion dollar company, I feel more entrepreneurial then ever. I don’t really pay attention to how long I work, because a lot of the time, it doesn’t feel like work.
Sales: The Easiest Way To Make Six-Figures
In general, sales careers are arguably the most accessible way to a six-figure income due to their low barrier of entry, and simple formula for earning more. There are plenty of companies that will hire someone straight out of high-school for sales. That is because hard work is the most important factor that determines your success in the field.
Working in a sales job that pays commission makes the calculus very easy. You can calculate exactly how much you need to sell to get paid six-figures and then from there you can figure out how many appointments or calls you need to go on to close those sales and just do it. Its that simple.
No more working long hours with no overtime pay and being told “you can get that promotion in 2 years if you do well.” If you want a raise you can give yourself one at anytime by selling more.
Ideally, if you go into sales with the right mentality, it should feel like you are running your own business, except you didn’t have to invent the product or invest your own capital to get it started.
Sales: The Intangibles
Every company is different, but there are some other things worth mentioning about sales, based on my experience thusfar.
Great Job Security: In general, the closer you tie yourself to the revenue of a company, the more valuable and indispensable you become. This means that you can actually be a very important contributor early in your career if you are successful. In sales it is all about the numbers, so there really isn’t too much room for subjectivity, and in the case of Keyence, every territory needs a rep, regardless of the economy.
Travel: For some this may not be a positive, but I grew very tired of spending 8 hours a day sitting in a cubicle on excel while I was an analyst. Sales jobs come in all sorts of flavors from inside sales where you stay in an office every day, to 100% travel gigs and everything in between. I like getting paid to drive around and be in a different place every day.
Human Interaction: Practically 100% of my job is communication. This was a complete 180 from sitting on excel all day. Now I spend more time talking to people on a given day then I do in silence.
Sales definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you have a lot of energy and are money-motivated its a great option, and an accessible pathway to making six-figures in your 20s. If you feel like you are trapped in a dead-end job or do not know what you want to do, it may be worth giving sales a try.
Even if you don’t end up doing it forever you will build valuable skills that will spill over into other aspects of your life as you learn to be a better communicator and speaker.
If you do end up doing it forever… well… the sky is the limit. Believe it or not, there are salespeople out there pulling in seven figure incomes. Hopefully that will be a post for another time.