What does an economist do?
Economists study how resources are distributed throughout society to produce goods and services. They conduct research, gather and examine data, watch economic trends, and create predictions. They research many different issues such as interest rates, employment levels, inflation, energy costs, exchange rates, taxes, business cycles, and economic conditions of the country. They also create methods for gathering their needed data such as sampling techniques and mathematical modeling methods. Economists create reports such as charts and tables based on their research results and present them to their managers and other professionals.
Many economists specialize in a specific economic area such as microeconomics, macroeconomics, industrial economics, financial economics, international economics, and labor economics. Economists apply economics to many areas such as agriculture, education, health, history, law, energy, the environment, and other issues. Most economists focus on the useful applications of economic policies.
What kind of training does an economist need?
Economists need at least a bachelor degree, but many positions require a master or doctorate degree in economics. Economists must complete courses in economics, accounting, statistics, and calculus. Aspiring economists can choose to specialize in many different concentrations at the graduate level including labor economics, international economics, and econometrics. Most students pursue internships or part-time employment in economic consulting firms, government agencies, or financial institutions while they are completing their education. Economists must stay up to date on the current advancements in the field and often complete continuing education courses and attend conferences and seminars throughout their careers.
What are the prospects for a career as an economist?
Employment of economists is projected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 7% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The increasing demand for economic analysis especially in the private industry will drive job growth.
Job prospects are expected to be good especially for economists with graduate degrees in economics. Job openings will also stem from the need to replace economists that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do economists make?
As of October 2009, economists with less than 1 year experience earn average annual salaries between $39,397 and $54,045. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $46,425 and $74,537 (2).
A career as an economist is an excellent choice for individuals who have a strong interest in economics and applying it to a variety of situations. Economists must pay close attention to detail, have strong quantitative skills, and be able to conduct complex research. Persistence, patience, and good problem solving skills are essential. Economists must also have excellent communication skills and be able to present their data and reports in clear and meaningful ways.