Economists analyze past and current economic conditions and forecast the future economic climate. They research society’s distribution of resources, prices of goods, interest rates, taxes, job market, exchange rates and other factors to predict a variety of economic outcomes.
The two main divisions of economics are microeconomics and macroeconomics. Microeconomics explores how the decisions and behaviors of individuals, firms and households affect supply and demand. Macroeconomics studies the trends and variables of the economy as a whole.
Entry-level positions can be obtained with a bachelor’s degree in economics; however, higher-paying, specialized jobs typically require a master’s degree. Those seeking top positions with the Federal Government, corporations or academia should consider pursuing a doctorate degree.
The majority of economists work for the government — Federal, State and local. Others work in private industry, holding positions in research and development or financial consulting. Economists with doctorate degrees may choose to work in faculty positions at universities.
Within these settings, there are several areas of specialization. Economists typically focus their education, and thus career on one of several subfields so they can become proficient under some of the following titles:
An education in economics can also prepare one for a job as a market analyst, researcher, purchasing manger or public policy consultant.
Salaries for economists vary depending on specialization and industry. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the general mean annual wage for economists in 2007 was $86,700. Those working in scientific research and development services earned a mean annual wage of $107,090. Management, Scientific and Technical Consulting Services, and Federal Executive Branch employees received a mean annual wage of $97,700 and $96,660 respectively.
The U.S. Department of Labor predicts a 7% increase in economic jobs over the next several years. Related fields are also expected to see job growth.