We have developed a versatile pulsed laser system for high precision magnetometry. The operating wavelength of the system can be configured to optically pump alkali vapors such as rubidium and cesium. The laser system consists of an auto-locked, interference filter stabilized, external cavity diode laser (ECDL), a tapered waveguide amplifier, and a pulsing module. The auto-locking controller can be used by an untrained operator to stabilize the laser frequency with respect to a library of atomic, molecular, and solid-state spectral markers. The ECDL output can be amplified from 20 mW to 2 W in continuous wave (CW) mode. The pulsing module, which includes an acousto-optic modulator (AOM), can generate pulses with durations of 20 ns and repetition rates of several MHz. Accordingly, the laser system is well suited for applications such as gravimetry, magnetometry, and differential absorption lidar. In this work, we focus on magnetometric applications and demonstrate that the laser source is suitable for optically pumping rubidium vapor. We also describe numerical simulations of optical pumping relevant to the rubidium D1 and D2 transitions at 795 nm and 780 nm respectively. These studies are relevant to the design and construction of a new generation of portable, rubidium, spin exchange relaxation-free (SERF) magnetometers, capable of sensitivities of 1 fT Hz-1/2 1.