Career Development

What Does an Economist Do?

Find out what an economist does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an economist.

Economists are professionals who study the economy and analyze how it works. They look at a wide range of topics, including unemployment rates, inflation, gross domestic product (GDP), interest rates, consumer spending, etc.

Economists may also be tasked with forecasting future economic trends or advising businesses on how to best manage their resources.

Economist Job Duties

Economists have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Conducting research, collecting data, and analyzing economic trends to identify potential problems in the economy
  • Creating forecasts for economic indicators such as inflation rates, unemployment figures, and interest rates
  • Preparing reports on economic conditions for various industries, companies, or governments
  • Conducting surveys or polls to gather information about public opinion on economic issues
  • Recommending ways to improve economic conditions through policy changes or other actions
  • Forecasting market trends to help businesses plan their operations
  • Explaining economic concepts to the public through speeches or articles
  • Conducting economic analyses of government policies and proposals
  • Preparing forecasts of future economic conditions using mathematical models or statistical models

Economist Salary & Outlook

Economists’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the company size and location. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses.

  • Median Annual Salary: $95,000 ($45.67/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $225,000 ($108.17/hour)

The employment of economists is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

Employment growth will be driven by demand for economic and financial analysis from businesses, governments, and other organizations. Organizations will need these services as they continue to globalize and increase their international trade.

Economist Job Requirements

Economists typically need to have the following qualifications:

Education: Economists typically need a bachelor’s degree in economics or a related field, such as business administration or mathematics. Some universities offer bachelor’s degrees in economics, while others offer degrees in business administration with a concentration in economics.

Many economists choose to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree to increase their earning potential and qualify for more senior positions. A master’s degree typically takes two years to complete and includes coursework and a research component. A doctoral degree typically takes four years to complete and includes coursework, a research component and a dissertation.

Training & Experience: Economists typically receive on-the-job training in the form of mentorship from senior economists. This training helps economists learn the specific skills and techniques they need to excel in their roles.

Certifications & Licenses: Economists need a license to practice their profession. The most common license is the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license, which requires that candidates pass a two-part exam covering professional ethics and general law.

Economist Skills

Economists need the following skills in order to be successful:

Data analysis: Economists use data analysis skills to examine and interpret economic data. They may use data analysis to forecast economic trends, evaluate the success of economic policies and make predictions about the future of the economy.

Communication: Economists often communicate their research and findings to a variety of audiences, including other economists, business owners, government officials and the general public. Effective communication skills can help economists convey complex information in a way that others can understand. This can include the ability to write clearly and concisely, as well as the ability to speak in a way that is engaging and informative.

Problem-solving: Economists use problem-solving skills to find solutions to economic issues. They research the issue, analyze the data and develop a solution to the problem. This may involve creating a new policy or changing an existing one.

Research: Economists research topics before writing reports or making predictions. They may research economic data, financial trends or other information to support their ideas. This research can help them make accurate predictions and provide useful information to businesses, governments and other organizations.

Numeracy: Numeracy is the ability to understand and manipulate numbers. Economists use their numeracy skills to analyze data and make predictions about the future. They also use numeracy to calculate the financial risks of investments and the potential profit of a business venture.

Economist Work Environment

Economists typically work in offices, although they may spend time traveling to attend conferences, conduct field research, or meet with clients. They usually work full time and may occasionally work more than 40 hours per week to meet deadlines or to complete projects. Many economists work for the federal government, which offers a high degree of job security but may require them to relocate. Economists also work in the private sector, where they may have more opportunity to earn a higher salary but may experience more job instability. Some economists are self-employed and work as consultants.

Economist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how economists work. Economists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of Data Science

The growth of data science is a trend that is quickly changing the way businesses operate. As more and more data becomes available, businesses are starting to realize the value of having a data scientist on staff who can help them make sense of all this information.

Economists who want to stay ahead of the curve should consider learning data science skills so that they can help their employers make better use of this data. In the future, economists may be in high demand as businesses continue to rely on data science to make decisions.

More Use of Big Data

As businesses become more reliant on big data, economists will need to learn how to use it effectively.

Big data refers to the massive amounts of information that businesses collect every day, such as customer transactions, social media posts, and web browsing activity. Economists can use this information to understand consumer behavior and make predictions about future trends.

Greater Focus on Ethics

Economists are increasingly being asked to focus on ethics in their work. This is due to the fact that economics has become an increasingly important field, and with that comes increased scrutiny from the public.

As economists are called upon to provide advice on complex issues, they will need to be able to do so in a way that is both ethical and accurate. This requires a deep understanding of the subject matter as well as the ability to think critically about the information that is presented to them.

How to Become an Economist

An economist career path can be a great way to use your analytical skills and help people. It can also give you the opportunity to work in many different areas, from government to academia to business.

To become an economist, you’ll need a strong math background and good writing skills. You should also be interested in learning about how the world works and be able to think critically about economic issues.

Related: How to Write an Economist Resume

Advancement Prospects

Economists typically advance in their careers by taking on more responsibility and moving into higher-level positions. Many economists begin their careers as research assistants or economists in training, and then move on to become economists. As they gain experience and knowledge, they may move into senior-level positions, such as lead economist or chief economist. Some economists also move into management positions, such as economic consultant or economic analyst.

Those who have a strong interest in teaching may become college professors. Many economists also work in the government, where they may advance to positions such as economic advisor or economic policy analyst.

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