Economists study issues regarding the production and distribution of goods and services. Using statistical analysis, mathematics, and computer programming, they collect and analyze economic data, such as the cost of products, employment levels, or exchange rates, to determine economic trends and make policy recommendations on how to take advantage of those trends. Economists are employed in academia, government, and in the private sector. Some general job responsibilities of economists include:
- Researching and analyzing economic issues at the micro and macro level
- Predicting and interpreting market trends
- Creating reports that explain the results of their research
- Making policy recommendations to take advantage of economic trends or help solve economic problems
The BLS expects the employment of economists to grow by 6% from 2010 to 2020. More than half of the economists employed in the U.S. work for federal, state, and local government agencies, however, the BLS reports that employment of economists in the federal government is expected to decline. Demand and job opportunities for economists will be highest in private industries where businesses are relying more on economic analysis to forecast business and sales trends.Read More
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Becoming an Economist
Most job positions for economists require a master's degree or Ph.D. in economics. A combination of advanced education and related work experience is typically required for positions in business, research, or international organizations. Candidates with a bachelor's degree in economics will qualify for some entry-level positions, including jobs with the federal government as well as jobs as research assistants, financial analysts, or market analysts.
Many schools offer on-campus and online bachelor's and master's degrees in economics. Economics majors are taught the applications of economic theory, how to collect and analyze economic data, and how to effectively present the results of their research. Some programs offer a concentration in a specialized area, such as economic development or business economics, and the opportunity to participate in a research internship. A sampling of classes you may take in an economics degree program, drawn from course listings for the University of North Dakota's online master of science in applied economics program, include the following:
- Empirical Methods in Economics
- Mathematics for Economists
- Advanced Macroeconomic Theory
- Applied Economic Analysis
Economists should possess strong analytical, critical-thinking, math, and public speaking skills. Internships can provide valuable experience in collecting and analyzing economic data. Potential employers will favor candidates with previous economist-related job experience, including internships or employment in the fields of business or finance.