Economists are economics experts. They study the production and distribution of goods and services by conducting surveys and collecting data, analyzing that data, and researching and analyzing economic issues.
Economists share their findings by preparing reports. Many of them write articles for academic journals. Economists are also problem solvers who interpret and forecast economic trends. When you read a prediction about the economy, you can know that there was an economist behind it.
Economists must be computer savvy. They use software programs to organize and help them analyze their data.
Economists sometimes have to work under high pressure and tight deadlines requiring extended work hours.
Economists must also have the following skills:
- Analytical skills
- Critical thinking and problem solving skills
- Communication skills (including writing)
- Excellent math skills (including statistics and calculus)
Education and Training
Most economist job opportunities require a graduate degree in economics. People holding bachelor’s degrees may qualify for entry level economist positions, especially within government agencies. A bachelor’s degree in economics or a math-related field is a good foundation for an economist career.
Work experience, including unpaid internships, will also help a candidate secure an economist position.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for economists in May 2012 was $91,860, with the top 10 percent earning upwards of $155,000. Highest salaries were paid to those economists working in finance and insurance. State and local governments paid the lowest wages.
In 2012, nearly half of all the economists in the US worked for the government. Others worked for corporations, helping them to understand their relationships with the overall economy, and helping them to increase profits. Some economists worked in scientific research and development services. A small number worked in finance and insurance. Some economists also teach college courses. Some even become high school teachers (BLS).
The economics field includes many specializations. Some economists work as econometricians, people who apply complex math (statistics) to economics. Some economists work in finance, analyzing savings, risk, and investments. Some work in public finance, looking at the role of government in the economy. Some find careers as industrial organization economists, studying how companies compete and how antitrust laws affect markets. Some economists specialize in labor. Some study the global economy.
Some economists are able to work from home, though economists need to travel for work fairly often.