Who Makes $200K?: Here are the DC industries with the most high earners - Technical.ly DC

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Who Makes $200K?: Here are the DC industries with the most high earners

Technology had a bigger proportion of the professionals making over $200,000 in 2019 than it did a decade prior, Technical.ly data shows. See how industries stacked up in the latest from our reporting series on incomes and wealth.

The nation's capital.

(Photo via Pixabay, used under a Creative Commons license)

A look at where a city’s highest earners work can say a lot about how its economy is evolving.

Take tech. It’s well-known for high starting salaries and DC is known for an extraordinarily high cost of living, but the over-six-figures pool is still largely a select group. As we reported earlier this year, DC experts say that you’re most likely to find roles making over $200,000 at the C-suite or senior management level.

But in DC, tech is also a space that’s changed prominently over the last 10 years, with influences from big tech, startups that became growth companies and the rise of sectors like education and cyber.

Following suit, tech’s share of top earners changed from 2009 to 2019, too.

That’s one of the insights Technical.ly found as we took a look at data behind the folks making the high-end of salaries in DC proper as part of a reporting series on tech careers and mobility. Working with a data journalist, we defined high earners as those making over $200,000 in salary alone annually, which is the threshold required to become an accredited angel investor. (Check out the methodology on GitHub.)


Here are DC’s top industries for earners over $200,000 in 2009:

DC’s top-earning industries in 2009. (Table by Technical.ly)

Legal was the hot high-earning industry of the late aughts, accounting for one out of every five people making over $200,000 annually, and over 15 percentage points higher than the next largest industry: consulting. Back in 2009, tech didn’t even crack the top 10. It came in at #11, with 1.99% of DC’s top earners working in computer systems design and related services. It’s worth noting though, that tech did make it under the consulting umbrella.

Data from 2019 showed a shift:

DC’s top industries for earners making $200,000 or more in 2019. (Table by Technical.ly)

While legal still came out on top, over-$200,000 salaries were distributed much more evenly by 2019, with legal dropping by seven percentage points. The key tech category, for one, jumped up a few slots to #9.

In other findings, colleges and real estate both moved up a spot, and securities dropped to #5, despite being slightly higher numerically than in 2009.

While tech is rising, the data also offers a reminder that the federal government provides a sizable portion of the good-paying jobs in the District. It shows that federal employees make up by far the largest group making over $200,000, and this share has only gotten larger since 2009.

Check out all of the data on the category of work for high-earners below.

Federal government employees are the largest group of high-earners in DC. (Table by Technical.ly)

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