An economist studies the distribution and production of services, goods, and resources by analyzing data on economic issues and research trends. Economists may work in corporations, firms, and think tanks. Others are teachers while half of work in federal, state, or local government.
Watch a video to learn what an economist does:
How to Become an Economist
An economist usually needs a master’s degree or Ph.D., but in the case of entry-level jobs, such as in government, a bachelor’s degree is acceptable. An advanced degree in economics with a bachelor’s degree that is strong in a mathematical background is very important. However, for many careers, a master’s degree or Ph.D. with graduate education and work experience is required, especially in international organizations, research, or business.
Job Description of an Economist
An economist researches and analyzes economic issues and advises governments, businesses, and individuals on economic topics. They prepare reports and charts to that forecast market trends. They also analyze various industries such as the environment, health, education, and development.
Some economists study the cost of energy or healthcare, while other economists watch and analyze exchange rates, employment levels, and business cycles. A few specialize in the effects of inflation, taxes, or interest rates. Often they will use spreadsheets, software programs, database management programs, and statistical analysis in their research. They should be skilled in communication, critical thinking, analytical, math, writing and be detail oriented.
Economist Career Video Transcript
According to its Greek origins, the word economics described the management of a person’s household. While today’s economists may study individual behavior, or broaden their focus to communities, countries, and even global patterns, the field still pursues the improvement of conditions for people’s lives. Economists study the patterns of production, distribution, and consumption of resources, goods, and services. They conduct surveys, analyze data, and communicate their findings in reports and charts to make the data understandable to others.
Economists work in fields from education to health and the environment. They may study the psychological and social factors of economic decision making, analyze savings, investments and risk, study international trade, or focus on the economic role of government. It’s common for economists to study historical trends to forecast future patterns. Math skills are essential. Most economists work in an office, generally full-time, although a deadline can require more than 40 hours per week until it’s met.
While they mostly work independently, many economists collaborate and work in teams with other economists and statisticians. A master’s degree or Ph.D. is required for most economist positions. A bachelor’s degree in economics may qualify candidates for some entry-level economist positions, especially with government offices, or for jobs as research assistants or analysts in business, finance, and consulting.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Economists.
National Center for O*NET Development. 19-3011.00. O*NET OnLine.
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.