Economist Job Description
Economists apply their knowledge of economic theory to many industries and problems. In fact, it’s very difficult (if not impossible) to identify any industry or widespread problem that isn’t impacted by the work of economists. Some of the most popular fields of economic study include energy, employment, healthcare, the environment, and education.
Many economists work for the government, where they analyze data that impacts the national or local economy. Their analyses often help inform legislators on the impacts of their regulations and laws. For instance, the Department of Labor provides unemployment data that can be used to measure the impact of legislative efforts.
Other economists work for private businesses, where they can perform many different functions. For example, some economists may study consumer demand to help businesses understand how the economy is impacting their business, while others use economic data to identify investment opportunities.
Many economists also choose to become teachers at the high school or university level.
Work Environment and Schedule
Over half of all economists work for the government, at either the local, state, or federal level. Others work for financial firms, universities, and consulting firms.
The majority of economists spend most of their time working in offices, though some positions (particularly in the consulting and finance fields) require frequent travel.
Working hours for economists can vary wildly depending on the position they hold. Generally speaking, economists who work on shorter deadline-driven projects are more likely to work longer hours than those who work on long-term research or academic projects.
If you’re considering a career in economics, it’s important to think about the schedule you would like to maintain as you are deciding on the field you want to work in.
How to Become an Economist
A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in economics is required for many entry level economist positions, though a master’s or doctoral degree in economics is normally needed to advance.
If you’re a student thinking of pursuing a career in economics, you should take as many math courses as you can. A bachelor’s degree in economics is attainable with average math skills, but a very strong background in mathematics is required if you want to earn an advanced degree.
There are currently 15,400 economists in the United States, with 580 new economist job openings created each year.
Economist jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Economist salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most economists make between $65,800 – $123,000 per year, or $31.66 – $59.12 per hour.