Pathway To Becoming A Successful Economist: Understanding and Counseling The Economic Issues

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From local community development offices and financial firms to the Federal Reserve, a wide variety of institutions rely on economists to help make data-driven decisions.

What is an economist?

An economist is someone who studies the reasoning behind decisions people make and is interested in using data to boost profits, create better public policy or conduct research.

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.

Duties of an economist

Economists typically do the following:

  • Research and analyze economic issues
  • Conduct surveys and collect data
  • Analyze data using mathematical models and statistical techniques
  • Prepare reports, tables, and charts that present research results
  • Interpret and forecast market trends
  • Advise businesses, governments, and individuals on economic topics
  • Design policies or make recommendations for solving economic problems
  • Write articles for publication in academic journals and other media sources

Where do they work?

Whether a small town is trying to attract new businesses or the federal government is working to find solutions to unemployment, economists can help to analyze data and make more strategic decisions.

In pretty much every field there is going to be a place for economists

In local, state and federal government, you could work to inform public policy, analyzing how new legislation could impact employment rates, consumer spending and other economic drivers. At a college or university, you could work as a professor or researcher.

Banks, brokerages and other financial institutions rely on economic forecasting to analyze the risk of their investments and manage their lending practices. Private businesses can use economic analysis to explore customer and company spending to more strategically boost profits and make data-driven decisions. What an economist does can be applied across a broad range of industries, from education and public health to finance and commodities trading. With an economics degree, you can see yourself succeed in a field with strong job growth and salary potential.

"The nice thing about economics is that you can build your skill set, grow and make a field for yourself in any number of industries,"

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