How to Become an Economist

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Contributor, Benzinga
June 10, 2020

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Have you dreamed of working as an economist but don’t quite know where to start? Maybe you’re a recent high school graduate or college student looking to declare a major soon or you’re an experienced professional searching for a more rewarding career. 

Look no further than this detailed guide from Benzinga on how to become an economist. 

Economist Overview

What do economists do? How much are they compensated? Which industries have the highest demand? Are there particular education requirements that must be met before employers hire you for a role? 

These are all valid questions to ponder when considering a career as an economist. 

Job Description

Economists explore economic issues, conduct surveys and gather data. They also leverage statistical techniques and mathematical models to dissect data and project market trends. 

As an economist, you’ll play an instrumental role in devising practical solutions to economic challenges. You may also be tasked with writing articles for various media publications like academic journals. 

These sectors employ the largest number of economists: 

  • Development and scientific research services 
  • Federal government 
  • Finance and insurance
  • Scientific management and technical consulting 
  • State government 

Regardless of the industry you work in, you can expect to work 40 or more hours per week. 

Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for economists in May 2019 was $105,020. 

Here’s a closer look at the compensation by industry: 

  • Development and scientific research services: $114,140
  • Federal government: $119,580
  • Finance and insurance: $120,770
  • Scientific, management and technical consulting: $114,140
  • State government: $73,400

Education Requirements

You will need a master’s or doctoral degree in economics to qualify for most economist roles. Planning to work for the local state or federal government? A bachelor’s degree may suffice. 

Job Outlook

The demand for economists is slated to increase 8% through 2028, notes This is 3% higher than the average projected growth rate for all occupations. 

Steps to Becoming an Economist 

Following these steps will help you reach your career goal of becoming an economist. 

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step toward becoming an economist is to earn a bachelor’s degree. But don’t just settle for any program. Search for options offered by reputable colleges and universities. They should be accredited and feature professors with a track record of success in the field, academia or both. You also want an economics degree program that’s affordable and extends exceptional online support to distance learning students. 

Apply to Graduate School 

It’s possible to get hired as an economist in the government sector with just a bachelor’s degree. However, a master’s in economics positions you for lucrative entry-level opportunities and career growth. You can also pursue a doctoral degree if you want to teach in an academic setting or distinguish yourself from other economists. 

Boost Your Knowledge 

Consider an online course to boost your knowledge while enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program. There are affordable options for all skill levels and you can work through the material at your own pace when it’s convenient.

Best Universities for Becoming an Economist

These online bachelor’s degree programs will prepare you for admission into graduate school. 

1. Pennsylvania State University

Penn State World Campus offers a Bachelor of Science in economics. It delves into the qualitative facets of economics and helps you hone your analytical and problem-solving skills. You will also learn how to make logical recommendations, allocate resources, curb common challenges and identify ways to help companies boost the efficiency of operations. Students complete courses on a host of pertinent topics like macroeconomics, microeconomics, econometrics, banking, calculus, money, computer programming, statistical analysis and more. 

2. Colorado State University 

Want to learn more about how economic systems are influenced by human behavior? Consider an online economics degree from Colorado State University. The curriculum features material that covers how consumption and production decisions are made, the human aspect of economics, the role of gender and environment on economics and more. You will also enhance your degree by selecting a minor in agricultural business, anthropology, business administration, gerontology, global and environmental sustainability, media studies, political science or sociology. 

Learn the fundamentals of economics with these beginner courses from Udemy.  

Econ 101: The Complete Intro to Economics For Beginners

All Levels • 66 videos • 4.3 hours
Econ 101: The Complete Intro to Economics For Beginners
securely through Econ 101: The Complete Intro to Economics For Beginners's website

1. Econ 101: The Complete Intro to Economics for Beginners

This introductory course will take you from novice to subject-matter expert in just 4 hours. Econ 101: The Complete Intro to Economics for Beginners covers the essentials of economics through a series of in-depth modules on consumer choice, supply and demand, profit maximization techniques, free markets and competition, monopolies and so much more. Register today for full lifetime access to 4 hours of on-demand video, 1 article and 4 downloadable resources. 

Instruction is provided by management consultant Chris Benjamin. He is a chief financial officer with several years of experience in the field. Benjamin also holds a Master of Business Administration. 

Basics of Economics A Complete Study

All Levels • 80 videos • 6 hours
Basics of Economics A Complete Study
securely through Basics of Economics A Complete Study's website

2. Basics of Economics: A Complete Study 

Basics of Economics: A Complete Study teaches the essentials of economics from the ground up. It’s ideal for both undergraduate and graduate students, and the knowledge you acquire can be used to facilitate your comprehension of material introduced in the classroom. 

Led by Chartered Accountant Raja Natarajan, this course is divided into the following sections: 

  • Introduction to Economics
  • Economics Classification 
  • Economics Analysis and Laws
  • Demand and Supply
  • Introduction to Business Economics
  • Decision Making Process in Business 
  • Price Determination in Different Markets
  • Why, What, How and When of Price Determinations in Different Markets
  • Perfect Competition
  • Monopoly Market
  • Budget and Budget Line
  • Elasticity of Demand
  • Cost and Revenue

Enroll today to unlock 6 hours of on-demand video, 1 article and 1 downloadable resource. You will also receive a certificate of completion when you reach the finish line. 

Prepare for a Career as an Economist 

Ready to take the first step toward fulfilling your career goal? Consider our top recommendations for economics degree programs and courses. Evaluate your options and select the options that best suit your needs. 

Pursuing a career as an economist takes a lot of hard work but the investment of your time and money will pay dividends for years to come. 

Southern New Hampshire University Online

SNHU Online Offers:

  1. Flexible schedules
  2. Affordable tuition
  3. Online tutoring
  4. Access to electronic research materials
  5. Specialized academic advising
  6. Supportive online community