Six careers that pay more than $50 an hour

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Looking for a career with high-pay potential? Here are six to consider.

By Andrea Duchon

Do you want to pursue a career that has potential to take your paycheck to the next level? Good news: There are a number of careers that pay more than $50 an hour, on average. But, these careers don't come easy. You'll need the right education - among other things - to help you pursue them.

"Often, young professionals need more than just a bachelor's degree to get into many of these high-paying positions. But once they combine a few years of solid work experience with their higher education, it's very achievable to get on one of these career paths," says Michael Provitera, career expert and author of the book, "Mastering Self-Motivation."

Ready to learn about six careers that pay more than $50 per hour? Keep reading.

Career #1: Advertising and Promotions Manager

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Mean Hourly Pay: $51.47*

If you've always been interested in how products and services are marketed, a career as an advertising and promotions manager could satisfy your career itch and put some money in your pocket at the same time.

The U.S. Department of Labor says that these professionals work with everyone from art directors to financial staff members, and they might plan ad campaigns, negotiate ad contracts, and meet with clients to provide marketing advice.

Why It Could Pay: These days, companies are keen to define their brands and ensure they get high visibility, says Joseph Terach, co-founder of Resume Deli, a professional career management firm.

"An advertising and promotions manager is on the front lines of that effort, making sure a company's brand gets to the head of the pack. A good one can be worth their weight in gold," he adds.

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Education Options: The Department of Labor notes that for most advertising manager positions, a bachelor's degree is required, and some employers might prefer a degree in advertising or journalism. The Department also says that managers in this field typically have some relevant work experience in the field.

Career #2: Top Executive

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Mean Hourly Pay (for a Chief Executive): $85.02*

Do you dream of rising to the top of the corporate ladder? A career as a top executive could not only pay dividends toward your career goals, but also toward your bank account.

As a top executive, your responsibilities could include devising strategies and policies to ensure an organization meets goals, planning, directing and coordinating operational activities, and consulting with other executives about general operations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Why It Could Pay: Top executives earn the big bucks because they are in charge of large amounts of resources, including human, technical, and financial sectors of the company, says Provitera.

Additionally, Terach says that every ship needs a captain, and captains need their first mates and senior officers.

"A top executive at a firm can provide invaluable strategic advice to a CEO to make sure the company prospers and stays afloat," he notes.

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Education Options: Many top executives have at least a bachelor's degree or master's degree in business administration, or in a major related to their field, according to the Department of Labor. Additionally, the Department notes that top execs may also have a considerable amount of work experience, though education may vary widely by position and industry.

Career #3: Computer and Information Systems Manager

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Mean Hourly Salary: $62.08*

Have you always had a knack for understanding computers and solving complex problems? You may do well to consider a career as a computer and information manager. Not only will you get the opportunity to flex your analytical brain, but you could be well compensated for doing so.

The U.S. Department of Labor says computer and information managers analyze their organization's computer needs and recommend possible solutions. By determining the IT goals of an organization, these managers can implement computer systems to help meet those goals.  

Why It Could Pay: "Bits and bytes are today's new currency, with reams of information moving at breakneck speeds around the world," says Terach. "Without a good IT manager, a company can find itself in dire straits, with irate clients that can't access their accounts or receive the products they ordered. Paying top dollar to get good technical folks on board your team is a must."

Additionally, David Bakke, finance expert at Money Crashers, a website dedicated to money and career management, says a career as a computer and information manager pays well because many companies require an MBA in order to qualify:

"Since the world of technology is constantly changing and evolving, a computer and information manager must also upgrade his or her education and skills in order to remain competitive and relevant."

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Education Options: The Department of Labor says that a bachelor's degree in computer or information science is typically required, in addition to related work experience. The Department also notes that many organizations require these managers to have a graduate degree, and MBAs are common.

Career #4: Financial Manager

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Mean Hourly Wage: $59.26*

If you enjoy advising your friends and family on financial matters, a career as a financial manager might be worth consideration.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor says, "financial managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization." That includes doing things like preparing financial statements, monitoring financial details, and supervising employees who do reporting and budgeting.

Why It Could Pay: Terach says that forecasting and tracking a company's assets and liabilities is the cornerstone of running a successful business. "When it comes to the person who's minding that function, the dollars an organization invests in them will translate into dollars saved and earned on the bottom line."

Plus, financial managers need to know what to do when times get tough financially.

"With the turbulent environment that we find ourselves in today, financial managers have to provide effective methods of controlling finances to ensure that a company can survive. Surviving in tough times shows that when the good times come back around, financial managers will be able to perform even better," he says.

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Education Options: The Department of Labor says these professionals must usually have a bachelor's degree in a field like finance, accounting, economics, or business administration, along with more than five years of experience in a financial or business occupation. They also say that many employers now look for financial managers with a master's degree, preferably in business administration, finance, or economics.

Career #5: Actuary

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Mean Hourly Wage: $51.29*

Here's another career that will put your analytical brain into overdrive: Actuary. And if you pursue a career in this field, your hourly wage has the potential to go into overdrive as well.

Actuaries typically compile statistical data and analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. They note that this work is essential to the insurance industry.

Why It Could Pay: "[I]f you're an insurance company or quantitative finance firm, you need a team of actuaries who can make sense of complex statistical probabilities and computational formulas," he says. "Entrusting those roles to anyone but a person with specialized mathematical knowledge and skills would be penny wise and pound foolish."

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Education Options: Along with a series of exams to obtain certification, the Department of Labor says actuaries need a bachelor's degree in a field like math, statistics, business, or actuarial science.

Career #6: Public Relations Manager

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Mean Hourly Wage: $52.05*

Are you a pro at getting people excited about whatever you're talking about? If so, a career as a PR manager could allow you to use your communication skills while also giving you the potential to earn a pretty penny.

In this role, you could expect to write press releases, develop an organization's corporate identity, and help clients create a favorable public image, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Why It Could Pay: "Dealing with specialized audiences, from consumers to the media to regulators, requires a professional who knows how to adapt their pitch and their "voice" to put the company brand in the best possible light," says Terach.

"That's what good PR professionals are for, and the luster they can add to your brand, or the communications support they can provide to get the company out of a crisis, is worth their premium salaries," he adds.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Communications Program.

Education Options: These professionals are generally required to have a bachelor's degree in public relations, communications, journalism, or English, although some employers might prefer a master's degree in PR or journalism, according to the Department.

* All salary information comes from the Department of Labor's Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012.

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