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This fast-growing job sector pays $40 an hour

The U.S. economy hasn't seen enough significant job growth and wage gains, experts say. But one sector of employment has been on fire, expanding quickly and paying more than an average $40 an hour.

9 unusual jobs that earn $100,000 or more
9 unusual jobs that earn $100,000 or more

Data-driven jobs are growing much faster than average -- about four times the growth seen in private industries overall, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Commerce. These jobs pay nearly 70 percent more than the national average for the private sector.

The regions with the highest concentrations of these data-intensive industries include Washington D.C., Virginia, Massachusetts, Maryland and Connecticut.

But what exactly is a "data job"? There are no specific definitions, but researchers with the Commerce Department decided to focus on jobs that process or analyze data using fairly sophisticated computer technology. Some 91 occupations made the cut, including the following:

  • College science professors
  • Market research analysts
  • Economists
  • Physician assistants
  • Surveyors
  • Environmental engineers
  • Chemists
  • Information security analysts
  • Pharmacists
  • Web developers
  • Computer programmers
  • Tax preparers
  • Emergency dispatchers

Those data jobs collectively totaled 10.3 million in 2013, or about 7.8 percent of all jobs. About two-thirds of those jobs were in the business/finance and computer/mathematical sectors, and included accountants, management analysts, software developers and computer systems analysts.

The use of data globally has exploded, and managing all of that information can be tough. That's one reason why the average hourly wage for all the data jobs in the report was $40.30 in 2013 -- much higher than the $23.96 average for the private sector.

Data entry jobs were the lowest-paying, at an average of $14.08 an hour. Unsurprisingly, chief executives topped the pay charts, earning an average $90.48 an hour.

Here are the rest of the 10 highest-paying data jobs and the average hourly salary of each, according to the report:

  • Computer information systems managers - $65 an hour
  • Pharmacists - $56
  • Securities/commodities agents - $49
  • Personal financial advisors - $48
  • Application software developers - $47
  • Management analysts - $45
  • Electrical engineers - $45
  • Financial analysts - $44
  • Computer systems analysts - $42

These jobs generally require more education than average. About two-thirds of workers in the top 20 data occupations have at least a college degree, the report said. In all occupations, only about a third have a bachelor's degree or higher.

About 36 percent of employees in data jobs majored in a so-called STEM field: Science, technology, engineering and math, according to the report. In the U.S. workforce overall, only about a quarter of those with college degrees majored in a STEM field."The growing importance of data has had a measurable effect on the economy and jobs," the researchers wrote in the report.

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