What do Economists Do?
If you are seeking a research-heavy career that combines the social sciences and mathematics, you may want to consider becoming an economist. Economists prepare formal reports, perform research, and create plans to solve the monetary issues facing societies. Many economists work in the academic field, while others work for the government or private corporations. The ability to examine data and predict future outcomes is necessary for anyone thinking of becoming an economist. Workers in this field publish essays, reports, and articles regarding their findings and personal views on economic issues.
Economists Skills and Abilities
Economists must possess comprehensive knowledge of economics and finance. This includes knowledge of markets on both a national and international level, along with the politics and public policies that accompany them. Economists often act as advisors to elected officials, public authorities, and private companies on ways to improve the economy. The ability to amass and interpret considerable amounts of data and figures is essential to working in this profession. Some economists elect to work in a university setting, only occasionally commenting on public policy. Economists who work closely with public officials may be expected to make speeches regarding various topics concerning society.
The primary function of an economist is to research and interpret a society or organization’s monetary data. Economists are often charged with educating the public on economic theories, problems, and principles. Many economists choose to specialize in a particular area of study, such as finance, agriculture, or the historical study of economics. Workers in this industry will also be expected to comment on public policies and how they affect different segments of society. Economists may also be expected to:
- Advise private companies on financial issues
- Provide litigation support with research and statistics
- Assist political leaders with the implementation of monetary policies
- Study the socioeconomic impact of these particular policies
- Review professional literature and publish books
- Create complex mathematical models in order to demonstrate economic principles
- Help societies develop a more sustainable economy
Economists Tools and Technology
As with many careers, economists commonly employ computers to find and interpret data. Pens, pencils, and other elementary office supplies are used for research purposes. Many economists utilize specialized computer software to help with calculations and to construct mathematical models. Calculators are also used, since this field requires working with numbers for an extended period of time. Economists should be familiar with the internet, and feel comfortable communicating with colleagues electronically.
Education and Training for Economists
This particular career requires a relatively high level of education, especially when compared to other careers. Approximately 42% of economists held a master’s degree, and almost 32% held a doctorate degree. Becoming an economist typically requires 4 years of undergraduate education along with 1-3 years of graduate or postgraduate education. With so much education required, this may not be the ideal career for those hoping to quickly enter the workforce.
The income of an economist can easily provide a stable and rather large income. The median income of an economist is $95,700, with the top 10% earning over $170,800, and the lowest 10% earning $50,400 or less annually. There was a 1.7% increase in wages for workers in this industry over the last year. Economists working the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry earned the most. Those employed by state governments earned the lowest annual wages.
Economists Jobs by Geography
The states with the highest level of employment in this industry are the District of Columbia, California, and Texas. Indiana economists earned the highest wages in the country – over $179,800 a year. The Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria area paid the highest wages for a metro area. With a 3.1% increase in employment levels over the last year, this is a steadily growing career with great future prospects. There are roughly 18,680 economists currently employed in the United States.