There are many examples of this. Quants. People who do risk pricing for Citibank. The kind of people who work on credit score algorithms. There are comparative peons in Google/Facebook/Zynga who will make millions upon millions because they are really good at twirling a few knobs which are attached to a faucet that spits out money.
If you mean upper-middle class then 4 and 5 are out of the question
If you mean upper class (top 1%) even 3 is out of the question. 500K a year is upper-middle-class in jersey and middle-class in manhattan. And after all of those expenses, you would be lucky to save 100K of that after taxes
If you mean `rich` (i would define rich as having enough money not to need a paycheck from another company -- maybe 10M in the bank is a good threshold) then 1 and 2 are the only ways to go
One thing to note: taxes are a pain. Most people in that 200-500K range are stiffed by the AMT (why I had to pay AMT at 22 is beyond me)
If you take an absolute measure of rich and compare cost of living, 250K is really not that much. Especially after taxes and the ilk.
Then, second point... Let's say you just get the return as high as the inflation... You still have a 2M pie you can eat from :) That would mean for example 50000$ a year during 40 years, augmenting pair with the inflation. I don't know well in other countries, but for me that would be enough to let the state retirement come. That wouldn't be the millionaire life but quite enough to enjoy my life with what I'd like to do. But for now I rather work and code/design things that matters :)
"Let's say you just get the return as high as the inflation... You still have a 2M pie you can eat from :)" <-- lets say you are 25 now and you live to be 80. Even if you can just match inflation, you have less than 40K per year to play with. In most suburbs of NYC, its hard to live on that (taxes on a house alone will eat away a quarter of that).
Your arguments would be valid if I decided to move to a third world country. I could go to India and live like a king for the rest of my life on less than 300K USD. But now you are comparing apples to oranges here: taking earnings from a place where earnings and costs are high, and exporting them to a place where costs are low.
NOTE: My goal isn't to pick a fight. You will understand when you get there that a million dollars just isn't that much (and not in a keeping-with-the-joneses sense)
Your point made me think about geo difference BTW. It is now clear to me how much the US needs more performance from you to ensure retirement. BTW feel free to tell me if you want to follow that thread per email... I'd be glad to.
I also imagine you are using a high standard for upper middle class. If you use even top 10%, you are talking professionals earning > $75,000 which most programmers hit at any company (at least in the Bay Area).
I assume you want to have a family one day :)
But just like executive pay, there's a point where the bonuses and profit sharing make up the vast majority of your compensation. Base salary stats don't really apply then.
eta: new as in "unproven and fresh out of school." The statement because trivially obvious when you're talking about VPs acquired from PayPal, etc.
EDIT: I have now read to the last page of the article, and I guessed right!
What's the intellectual kit needed to become a programmer at a high frequency trading firm?
We (mandalorian) don't, but instead focus on more freedom and better jobs. Not hiring right now, but check back in a couple of months.
Other were 'analysts' who took problems and solved them with a combination of coding and process and perhaps hardware.
Then there were 'techs' who, given a set of steps, translated those steps into something a machine could consume.
Analysts seem to have the widest range in pay, coders are pretty bunched up around various levels of experience.
Correction: some of them are willing to pay at least $1.2 million/yr to a programmer who can bring them source code representing the cumulative effort of a team from one of the most 'respected' firms in the industry.