Want Affluence? Career Choice Matters Most, Study Finds

Early wealth also leading contributor to affluence

The most important factor in determining an individual’s future wealth is not how much he saves or how little he spends; it’s how he makes his money. A report released in May by Digitas, and the basis of a white paper by Ad Age, found that career choice is a predictor and a determinant of whether an individual’s household income will reach $200,000.

Another major predictor is amassing wealth at a young age, the study, “Affluence in America: The New Consumer Landscape,” found. Individuals who earn between $100,000 and $199,999 before they’re 34 have a much greater chance of reaching the minimum threshold of “affluent.”

The mass affluent now consider themselves middle class, the study found, and have been replaced by the “class affluent,” or those who earn more than $200,000 per year, and the “emerging affluent,” who are younger than 35 and earn between $100,000 and $199,999.

The class affluent are the minority in America, representing just 8.5 million people. The study broke down this group into three smaller categories: the affluent, the wealthy and the rich.

The affluent are the “creative class,” and earn between $200,000 and $499,999. They work in fields like software design, publishing and architecture.

The wealthy, or the “money class,” earn less than $1 million and likely work in finance or consulting positions.

The rich earn over $1 million, and are part of the “leadership class.” They may work in high-ranking positions at companies that influence their industry, or they may work in “break-out” industries like Internet properties and services, or real estate.

The emerging affluent number 5.5 million people, the study found, and are in the process of attaining greater affluence. They may have positions in the financial services, legal services, and engineering fields, but they are still in the low- to middle-management levels.

It’s important to note, though, that this group has “all the attitudes of the truly affluent.” Members consider themselves to be opinion leaders, according to the study.

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