In just 60 minutes, you could earn enough to pay for a tank of gas, the cable bill, gym membership, or dinner out. Thirty dollars still covers some of life's essential costs. Earn that much in just one hour on the job, and you have enough to build a comfortable life.
The latest U.S. Census Bureau figures put the median household income in the U.S. at $50,233. A $30-per-hour job brings in $62,400 before taxes, or 20% more than the national median. For many people, this extra margin is just one promotion or one credential away. To boost your economic security, consider these 10 careers with salary data as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Mean Hourly Wage: $33.78
Database administrators perform a vital role in our information economy, managing the database systems that help companies store, process, and access data effectively. Job growth is stunning in this high-demand field as well -- the profession is expected to grow 37 percent through 2016. Continuing education is a must to keep up with evolving technology, but entry requirements are modest. You can launch this $30-plus-an-hour career with an associate's degree in database administration or information technology.
Mean Hourly Wage: $30.04
Historic demand for registered nurses is inspiring many people to reinvent themselves as health care practitioners. Nursing is projected to generate more new jobs than any other profession -- an estimated 587,000 positions through 2016, which represents a 23% increase in a decade. To take advantage of this boom, head to nursing school for your bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN). Accelerated programs are available for career changers who already have a bachelor degree in another field.
Median Hourly Wage: $30.18
Technical writers interpret engineering and scientific information for a lay audience, producing product documentation, user manuals, project proposals, and scientific reports. Most writers come to the field with a college bachelor's degree in a communications or liberal arts field. Some colleges offer specialized certificate programs in technical communication, which incorporate IT literacy training.
Median Hourly Wage: $34.22
Fashion design has the reputation as an all-or-nothing labor of love -- you begin as a starving artist and ultimately attain celebrity stature designing haute couture. In fact, the majority of fashion designers -- 3 in 4 designers -- work secure, salaried jobs for apparel manufacturers. What these artists give up in suffering and glamour they make up for in a solid and stable paycheck. A job as a salaried fashion designer starts with an associate's or bachelor's degree in fashion design.
Median Hourly Wage: $30.11
Accountants should have no trouble finding work as businesses throughout the economy sort through the financial rubble of the credit crisis. Mounting federal regulation will also contribute to demand for trained accountants. Accountants working for accounting and bookkeeping services earn upwards of $30 per hour. These employers hire trained professionals with a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance.
Median Hourly Wage: $30.71
Environmental scientists will be the heroes of the coming era, developing much-needed strategies to redress environmental damage to soil, water, and air. The field is expected to grow 25% in response to new federal regulations and funding, as well as private investment. A bachelor's degree in earth sciences will get you started in this fascinating and important field. Many scientists go on to a master's degree to secure the best opportunities.
K-12 Curriculum Designer
Median Hourly Wage: $30.87
Curriculum designers are at the forefront of educational research, developing new instructional materials and strategies to improve the quality of education in our nation's schools. The job typically calls for a graduate-level degree in the field, such as a master's degree in education (M.Ed.).
Mean Hourly Wage: $31.21
To make about the same amount of money with a two-year associate's degree, enroll in a dental hygiene program. Dental hygienists work alongside dentists to promote oral health and hygiene. Hygienists enjoy distinction as one of the nation's fastest growing occupations, with 30% growth expected through 2016.
Detectives and Criminal Investigators
Median Hourly Wage: $30.05
Solving crimes is all in a day's work for these criminal justice professionals. Criminal investigators can build their skill set by completing an associate's degree in criminal justice, where they take courses in crime scene investigation, criminal investigation procedures, and more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics rates job opportunities as "excellent."
Median Hourly Wage: $31.66
Producers coordinate the television features we enjoy, from sitcoms to dramas to the nightly news. To build the necessary skill set, producers enter the field with an associate's or bachelor's degree in mass communications or broadcast media.
A tight economy hasn't stopped employers in these ten fields from hiring qualified grads. With the right degree, you can upgrade your career and find job security in the form of a $30-an-hour paycheck.