What Can I Do With A Degree In Economics?

"I took an economics elective at my school (I’m still in high school) and I really liked it. I was thinking of looking for a school where I can study economics and earn a degree. But here’s my problem. I have never met an “economist” in my entire life! Not a single one, so I’m worried there are no jobs. Is there actually anything I can do with this degree after college, or would I be destined for unemployment or work in an unrelated field?"

asked by Parker from Akron, OH

You’re not wrong about the challenges of finding work in economics. It’s not the easiest thing, and a lot of people who go to school for economics end up getting a higher degree to become more competitive. According to the University of Kent economics department, a full 15% of graduates from an undergrad economics program will go on to further study, and another 9% will be unemployed. 66% will be employed. Of those, the majority (around 43%) will be working as finance professionals of one type or another. Others end up in loosely related positions, working as public sector managers, clerical workers, sales representatives, teachers, and so forth.

Some of the job titles of recent graduates included: trainee mortgage broker, trainee auditor, accounts assistant, research assistant, financial services associate, merchandiser, marketing executive, and copywriter. You’ll notice that most of the positions which are specifically economics-oriented are “trainee” positions or positions for assistants.

If you go on to earn a higher degree, you may be able to bypass some of these positions or reduce the “trainee” phase to a shorter time duration. You also improve your odds of qualifying for a job which is closely connected to your field of study.

If you aim for a PhD in economics, you may actually be able to become an economist, where “economist” is really your job title. You may need up to a decade of work experience to get into one of these positions. You might work for a company or a government agency, performing research to understand how modern economic situations may impact a company’s bottom line or a government agency’s policies.

A master’s degree and work experience may also help you to get into one of these positions, but with just a bachelor’s degree, you’ll have a tough time competing.

Even if you don’t actually become an economist, a lot of the jobs you may qualify for with an economics degree are lucrative. Investment advisers, stock brokers, personal bankers, and insurance agents can all make good money. You’ll use the knowledge you learn while earning your degree to do these jobs, but on a more local or personal scale.

Ask yourself which positions you are interested in. If you have broader interests, a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient. If you want to become an actual economist, you probably want to aim for a higher degree after you complete your undergraduate education.

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