Economist Job Profile

If you get the necessary educational background to become an economist, jobs at relatively high salaries await you. Economists study how resources are distributed throughout an economy and these resources can refer to money, job opportunities, trade, whether local or global, and since we are all in competition for some sort of resource, there are plenty of  that examine the competition.

Basic Tasks

Most economists will work in full-time, permanent positions, usually for the government, a financial institution or a non-profit, and usually in an office setting. Most economists will take financial and statistical data and input the raw data into statistical or economics analysis software and examine the results. They will look for correlations and correspondences between the data and amongst the varying results. They will use their knowledge of local and global historical events and trends to interpret the data, and they will make educated guesses, a forecast, about what the data indicates.

Based on their analysis, they will prepare written reports for the organization or for the general public about the trends and the reasons for the trends that they have encountered in the data. Depending on how big the datasets are, such as US labor market data, they may work as part of a team of economists to analyze and present the data to the public.

Since many economists possess advanced degrees, many economists are also professors, which means that they conduct research on their main area of study and teach classes. Dealing with students includes public presentation, class planning, marking assignments, writing tests, managing and supervising undergraduate and graduate students.

Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual economist salary is $64,000 per year. Economics teachers at the post-secondary level make an annual average of $61,000 per year. The starting salary for an economist with an undergraduate degree is $35,000 per year.

Advancement

An undergraduate degree in economics may lead to careers in banking and financial services, usually at the customer service level. To advance within the financial services field, you will need to acquire licenses to sell certain financial products, such as insurance or securities. A supervisory position within the financial services industry may require an MBA.

Once you have your graduate degree, you are eligible for positions within government and non-profits that use economists to conduct financial analysis and demographic study. Once you have worked in this field, you may be eligible to advance into a senior analyst position, meaning that you will assign work to other economists, check and edit the work of the professionals in your department and assist in the completion of research documents for publication. You will be responsible for timelines, completing projects according to a deadline, as well as dealing with staffing issues, such as staff selection, management and firing, if necessary.

Economist Alternatives

Not all economics majors are interested in working on data or financial services, but an economics degree can prepare you for many careers.  If you are a good writer, many economists have completed bestselling books on economics and economic theory, such as "Freakonomics" and the "Ascent of Money," or they have careers in journalism. Many economics undergrads also go on to pursue careers in the law or international relations.