How to Become an Economist

Economists study the economy of a society and predict economical outlooks. A determination for the shift in an economy is based on research, analytical work and theories created by economists examining the current civilization and its history.

Economists provide research, develop theories, implement applications and write policies pertaining to economics. Economists may be specifically focused in areas, such as philosophical areas, specific markets, financial analysis or other economical fields.

A professional economist works in an area of macroeconomic (public sector) or microeconomic (private sector) analysis.

Bachelor's Degree
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
Work done by economists may affect policies on international trade, labor, wages and public finance or influence a specific business’s supply and demand in the workforce. Economists may also work as financial or investment advisors.

Get an Early Start

Economists need to have a special understanding of math and social sciences. In order to be prepared for the career path and job field ahead, it is smart to focus on taking additional math classes in high school. Finding a mentor to help you learn the way economists work and think may mean avoiding a lot of unnecessary work and frustration in the future.

Education and Requirements

To become a trusted professional economist, you will need to get your bachelor’s degree in economics. Obtain a good mix of communication, mathematical, statistical and writing classes through the courses you take and the electives you add. Some jobs will require a master’s degree or doctorate from an advanced economics program. A specific field or focus will need be chosen when you work for your higher degree, so you will need to know what area of economics you would like to work in.

Salary and Outlook

In 2012 economists made an average of $99,480, according to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The outlook for 2010-2020 is expected by the BLS to rise 6 percent, which is a slower rate than the national growth projection of other industries. This means that economists with higher degrees (master’s or doctorate) are more likely to have the best job opportunities.

5 Tips for Becoming an Economist

  1. Get a well-rounded education. A specific focus is important, but the ability to speak publicly or write emphatically will be important in your career path.
  2. Become proficient in economics software and statistical tools. Practicing the tools of the trade and being able to include a list of relevant software proficiencies on your resume will take you another step further toward your goals.
  3. Research and understand your focused field of study. It will be important to fully understand what specific field you plan to work in post-graduation. The more you understand your prospective field before your post-secondary education, the better. By knowing the ins and outs of the field you wish to establish your career in, you will be better prepared to select classes and activities that strengthen your education and open up opportunities for you.
  4. Interview a professional in the field you aspire to be part of to gain advice and insight. By asking questions about the path of another professional, you will glean ideas to help you with your own choices and decisions. Older professionals have more experience, but younger professionals have been through the wringer more recently and may have more up-to-date information.
  5. Gain early experience. An internship will be an important step in gaining the background and practice desired by future employers. The earlier you can begin to work in your field, the better.

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