UPDATED: March 31, 2022

You recently got a job offer for around $18 per hour. Although the rate sounds appealing, you may wonder if it’s a decent rate or not.

Unfortunately, many inexperienced employees and fresh grads remain underpaid. So, it’s important to educate yourself so that you can set your expectations right.

If you recently got a job offer for $18 an hour but can’t tell if you should accept it or not, don’t worry. We have you covered.

We looked at salary case studies and consulted finance experts on the feasibility of living off of $18 per hour. We also explored which jobs pay similar wages.

Keep reading before you agree to any job offer. Getting a firm grasp of your overall value as an employee will help you negotiate better compensation packages.

As a bonus, we’ll also teach you some side hustles. That way, you can make money on the side and increase your annual salary without leaving the security of your full-time job.

Stick with us until the end so you can avoid employers that might lowball you if you don’t have a firm grasp of your ideal compensation package.

Let’s assess whether a per-hour wage of $18 is worth it!

The Annual Salary of Someone Who Makes $18 an Hour

How much do you make a year at $18 an hour? The short answer is $37,440. 

You’ll get the same amount if you assume that each week has 40 work hours and that each year has 52 work weeks.

Sample Computation:

[($18 per hour x 40 hours per week) x 52 workweeks in a year] = annual salary

This formula only serves as a sample computation to help you estimate your annual salary working $18 per hour. Remember: you’ll still have to factor in taxes, paid vacation days, benefits, and commissions.

Making $18 per Hour After Taxes

Expect around 15% of your salary to go to federal taxes, Medicare premiums, and Social Security contributions. 

What does $18 an hour after taxes total? Let’s assume that you make exactly $37,440 annually. Following the tax estimates listed above, your take-home pay should round off to about $31,824, minus any state-specific income taxes.

Commissions and Bonuses

Company benefits vary on a case-by-case basis. So, unfortunately, you can’t calculate your potential earnings in bonuses until your employer explains your company’s incentive programs.

However, you can look into your medical coverages. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) dictates that employers need to provide 95% of their employees with adequate medical benefits.

Companies offer different insurance packages. However, statistics show that most employers spend $475.69 for single coverages and $1,174.00 for family coverages.

Jobs That Earn $18 an Hour

Most jobs that pay around $18 an hour only require a high school diploma. Even fresh graduates with no prior work experience and working college students can confidently ask for a $30,000 annual salary.

Is this your first-time job hunting? It’s better to skip the $7 hourly jobs and turn straight to higher-paying options like the following:

Production Associate

Hourly Salary Range: $18 to $18.50

Production associates oversee daily manufacturing responsibilities, including quality control, raw material procurement, factory equipment checkups, and product shipping. 

Associate-level workers typically also handle clerical tasks. However, expect to manage manufacturing personnel as well once you get promotions.

Warehouse Worker

Hourly Salary Range: $18.50 to $22

Warehouse workers also work in the manufacturing industry. Their daily tasks include processing orders, tracking inventory, shipping orders, and restocking shelves.

Note that states pay workers differently. For instance, the average annual salary of a warehouse worker is around $28,000, but workers in Indiana make $36,000 annually.

Animal Control Worker

Hourly Salary Range: $18 to $22

Help enforce animal rights as an animal control worker. Your daily tasks will involve investigating cases of animal attacks on humans, animal attacks on other animals, and animal cruelty or neglect.

Expect to work closely with local enforcement. You’ll need help gathering evidence and drafting reports, especially with incidents involving humans.

Health Care Assistant

Hourly Salary Range: $18.50 to $19.57

You can work in the healthcare industry even without a degree as an assistant. You’ll primarily help health care workers with their daily responsibilities, such as checking up on patients, drafting reports on vital signs, and sterilizing hospital equipment, 

Auto Mechanic

Hourly Salary Range: $18.50 to $19

Although you don’t need a college degree to work as an auto mechanic, most shops will require some form of certification. 

There are many options for continuing education. However, accomplishing ​​the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification will give you an edge over the other mechanics in your area.

Is $18 per Hour Considered a Fair Salary?

Although an hourly wage of $18 is double the US minimum wage, most Americans wouldn’t consider it “fair.” Statistics show that the average US household spends upward of $60,000 annually.

However, you can still call $18 hourly wages liveable. You might not have enough to start a family right away, but you can still:

Pay Rent

Most homeowners pay $1,500 for monthly mortgage payments, so you probably can’t purchase a brand-new home on a $30,000 annual salary. However, you can shell out a few hundred bucks on rent. 

Go on Night-Outs

If you only spend 50% to 60% of your salary on daily expenses, your monthly budget can accommodate a couple of night-outs.

Take Spontaneous Vacations

Considering that most Americans spend around $600 per head when going on vacation, you can take a domestic trip every two to three months without breaking the bank.

Pay for Insurance

Health insurance costs an average of $1,000 per month, but you can ask your employer to shoulder most of these premiums if you work full time. 

Tips for Living on a Salary of $18 per Hour

Making $18 per hour translates to an annual salary of around $30,000, so it’s definitely a living wage for those living independently. However, you might not have much left after each payday. Follow these tips if you don’t want to end up living paycheck to paycheck:

Eat Out Less

The taste and convenience of greasy fast-food options might feel tempting, but eating out too often significantly spikes your living expenses. Spending just $5 to $10 on meals racks up to an extra $150 to $300 every month.

Instead, buy your groceries in bulk and cook for yourself. Create a healthy, affordable weekly meal plan and prepare the ingredients ahead of time to reduce your average cooking time.

Live With a Roommate

Although renting an entire apartment by yourself gives you total privacy, it also comes with a steep price tag. Monthly rental rates in the US average at $1,124.

Sakina Nasir, the SEO Executive of Streaming Digitally, you can cut this amount in half by living with a roommate instead. 

“You might even save money by renting a two-bedroom apartment and splitting the rent and utilities. If you're already in a relationship, your expenses should be split proportionately rather than evenly. Because my husband earns less than I do, I am responsible for a higher amount of the monthly expenses.”

Post an online listing, then look for a qualified candidate with the credit score and income to support their share of the rent and utility bills.

Eliminate Bad Debt

Differentiate between bad and good debt. Bad debt consists of borrowed expenses that your current salary can’t afford, such as unpaid credit card dues, expensive auto loans, and loan shark deals. Stay away from these loans.

On the other hand, loans paying for appreciating long-term investments classify as good debt. You can retain these loans. 

However, we don’t advise entry-level workers and fresh grads to take out any type of loan policy until they’ve built an adequate emergency fund.

Have Two Breadwinners

Most households wouldn’t survive today’s economic climate with just one breadwinner. Again, a family of three to four needs upward of $60,000 per annum.

If you make $18 per hour, you’ll only take home around $30,000 after taxes, so we strongly urge having your partner work full-time as well.

Move to a State With a Low Cost of Living

Although this tip is pretty far-fetched, note that your state’s average cost of living has a significant impact on your expenses. A dollar gets you more in Mississippi than it does in California.

Matthew Paxton, founder and owner of Hypernia, states, “In the Bay Area, a living salary of $18 is pitiful. Despite the fact that I'm single and self-sufficient, $18 is hardly enough to get by in San Francisco, where the cost of tuition and rent is CONSTANTLY rising while incomes remain stagnant.”

For this reason, we encourage fresh grads and entry-level workers to start out in a state with a low cost of living. Keep your daily expenses to a minimum.

Once you have enough saved up and have built multiple sources of income, you can consider moving to expensive states like New York, Hawaii, or Oregon.

Live Below Your Means

The best way to survive off an $18 hourly salary is to live below your means. Stop buying stuff you can’t afford.

It wouldn’t matter whether you make $18 or $1,800 per hour if you can’t control your spending habits. You’ll wind up broke either way.

Side Hustles to Make More Money if $18 an Hour Isn’t Enough

If you don’t want to downgrade your lifestyle but only make $18 per hour working full-time, consider starting a side hustle. Make an extra thousand or two every month by working as a/an:

Affiliate Marketer

Affiliate marketing is a program wherein you earn commissions from customers who purchase through your referral link. Every marketer gets a specific link per brand or product that they promote.

Your earnings as an affiliate marketer will vary heavily based on your sales performance. Most brands pay a 5% to 30% commission.

Social Media Manager

Contrary to popular belief, most influencers and socialites don’t manage their social media accounts. Scaling accounts requires a deep understanding of digital marketing.

If you have confidence in your ability to create an efficient, effective content calendar, try working as a part-time social media manager. Reach out to micro-influencers and mid-tier influencers.

Your rates will depend on your portfolio and experience, but you can expect your first few gigs to pay around $15 to $20 per hour.

Content Writer or Copywriter

Freelance writing typically involves creating written web content. Your client could ask for anything, from short Instagram captions to in-depth comparison reviews and buyer guides.

This side hustle suits employees who already have experience writing. No, you don’t have to be an eloquent writer skilled in creating academic papers, but you’ll need mastery over basic grammar rules.

eCommerce Entrepreneur

Although affiliate marketing is a low-cost way to make money in eCommerce, it doesn’t give you much profit leverage. Your earnings will solely depend on commissions.

Consider opening an eCommerce store yourself instead if you want to maximize your earnings. You’ll handle everything from product sourcing to after-sale support, so you’ll also have total control over your profit margins.

Youtube Content Creator

Share your passion with the world as a YouTube content creator. Although socialites, travel vloggers, and beauty gurus currently dominate the influencer industry, lesser-known niches still hold significant potential.

For instance, let’s say you love boats. Instead of forcing yourself to create generic travel videos, you can zero in on your target audience by creating hyper-specific, unique content on boating. 

YouTubers typically make $5 to $20 per 1,000 views, depending on their content. However, most content creators make the bulk of their earnings from brand deals and sponsored videos.

Graphic Artist

If you know your way around programs like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, take on graphic design gigs. You‘ll make anywhere from $10 to $50, depending on your experience.

Most job opportunities would come from clients who need business logos, social media content, profile banners, and business website assets, among other graphics.

Real Estate Skip Tracer

Real estate skip tracing involves locating the owner of a specific property. This process lets investors, developers, and landlords get the best deals on the market by going straight to the homeowner.

Sadly, most investors don’t have time to process hundreds of leads weekly. They hate middlemen. However, they’ll willingly pay someone to trace unlisted properties so that they can focus on the other aspects of investing in real estate.

Reach out to these investors if you have some experience with either real estate or skip tracing. You can make around $18 per hour, plus commissions.

Setting a Good Living Wage Based on Your Individual Needs 

Yes, $18 per hour is a relatively fair wage. This compensation package rounds off to about $31,700 annually after taxes—doubling what the average minimum-wage worker makes. 

Also, most jobs making $18 an hour don’t require college degrees. Companies in the automotive, manufacturing, and health care industries typically pay blue-collar workers upward of $30,000 per year. You can start making this much with just a high school diploma.

Eliana Levine, the co-founder of FindPeopleEasy, states, “Most $18-an-hour positions do not require a college diploma and are located in stable, high-growth areas such as manufacturing, health care, and tech positions. The bulk of these positions has room for advancement in training and education. Thus, this is a decent salary for a blue-collar worker than an educational degree holder.”

However, whether or not it’s “enough” depends on varying lifestyle and career factors, such as your living situation, work experience, and savings goals. Don’t haphazardly base your salary expectations on your monthly expenses.

Only spend 80% of your salary on daily expenses. The other 20% should go straight to your emergency savings and long-term investments. Otherwise, you’ll get stuck living paycheck to paycheck.

Trust us—making an extra dollar per hour is one thing, but setting aside that dollar for your financial growth is another.