Who makes $200K? Here are the Philly industries with the most high earners

While tech workers represent some of Philly's highest earners, other industries like eds and meds still beat it out for the top salaries.


(Photo by Philly by Drone)

Who are the highest earners in Philadelphia?

It’s a question dabbled in a few months ago, when kicking off a reporting project about looking at the potential pool of angel investors in Philadelphia. We learned that the health of a startup ecosystem is largely dependent on the local investors willing to take a chance on new ventures, and noted the significance of those investors representing the communities trying to grow.

But what can the breakdown of how that income is earned tell us about our city?

A salary of $200,000 annually is the threshold required to become an accredited angel investor. Accordingly, it’s the number we used as the minimum salary to qualify as a high earner when we took a look at data behind the folks making the high-end of salaries in Philly as part of a reporting series on tech careers and mobility. (See our data journalist’s methodology on GitHub.)

In 2009, .63% of residents made more than $200,000, compared to 1.12% — or 17,119 people —  in 2019. The growth is a good thing, though economic experts warned us that a part of that growth is likely inflation. Of note was that the spread of this growth was relatively equal across race in the decade between 2009 and 2019 — every population roughly doubled their number of people earning above $200,000, except for the number of Latinx high earners, which nearly tripled.

So, where do those high earners work? According to data from 2009, the industries that make the most track with what we know Philadelphia does well:

Philadelphia’s top-earning industries 2009. (table by

Philadelphia’s eds and meds — higher education and medicine — claim two of the top three spots, which tracks, given the region’s reputation for these industries’ prowess. We see financial services and tech consulting services represented here as two industries known to be well paid, but they don’t yet represent most high earners yet.


Computer systems design doesn’t rank in the top 10 year, coming in at #14.

In contrast, here are Philly’s top industries for earners over $200,000 in 2019:

Philadelphia’s top-earning industries 2019. (table by

In 2019, we do see a shift. Legal and tech consulting services moved up the list, representing more high earners than in 2009. Of those making more than $200,000, 14.5% worked in legal services, notable because earlier this year, a local law firm reportedly became Philly’s first to pay first-year associates more than $200,000 per year.

Of this data, nearly 12% of high income earners work in medicine, 10.5% work in higher education and 4.75% work in management, scientific and tech consulting services. Computer systems design ranked #11 among the top 20 industries, representing 2.1% among those who make more than $200,000 — up from #14 in 2009, when technologists made up just 1.6%.

This shows us that while the tech industry is growing in Philadelphia, and it does represent some high earners above $200,000, tech salaries are likely still below this threshold for the majority of local pros.

A recent survey of tech salaries found tech salaries for Philly and other similar markets averaged around $135,000 over the last year. Meanwhile, remote workers were netting, on average, the highest tech salaries.

Anything surprising to you from this data? Let us know so we can explore if for a future story:

Subscribe to our Newsletters
Technically Media
Connect with companies from the community
New call-to-action