What’s the Best Degree Path to Become an Economist?

If you are naturally detail-oriented and enjoy thinking critically, analyzing information and working with numbers, you might be interested in a career in economics. Economists are professionals – often highly-educated ones – who study how a wide range of resources are produced and distributed. Most people equate economics with money, but economists study the production and distribution of various goods and services, as well. Even how people use time can fall under the study of economics. The field is not only interesting, but can also be lucrative. Economics is among the top 10 highest paying degrees in business. The beginning salary for economists is $83,590 per year, but the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports an even higher median annual salary, $91,860. To get started in a career in economics, candidates must earn a college degree.

Economics Education and Experience

Economics degrees exist at the undergraduate, graduate and doctorate level. Which degree a student should pursue depends on his or her career goals. While students can earn a bachelor’s degree in economics, their career options will be limited if this is their highest level of education. Some economics jobs exist for candidates with bachelor’s degrees, mostly entry-level government jobs, the BLS reported. Outside of the government, graduates of bachelors of economics degree programs work in related industries like business, consulting and finance. Some common careers of undergraduate students of economics include investment bankers, market analysts and credit analysts.

To work within the field of economics in settings like corporations and research firms, candidates typically need an advanced economics degree. They can choose between studying economics at the master’s degree level and at the Ph.D. level, which requires significant research. Aspiring economists must also have relevant work experience, gained through an internship or professional experience working in a field like finance or business.

A College Economics Curriculum

Economics students study a wide range of subjects. They complete business coursework in topics such as industrial organization, business regulation and business and public policy. They study various ways of analyzing businesses and forecasting economic trends. Matters like international trade and economics of developing countries fit into the curriculum right alongside courses in regional and urban economics, allowing students to develop economic knowledge that knows no bounds. Students also learn how labor and taxation affect economies. Part of the economics curriculum includes advanced studies in subject such as macroeconomics and microeconomics.

In addition to the career’s high earning potential, work as an economist has other benefits. The job outlook is good, with the BLS expecting a 14 percent increase in economics career opportunities. Economists also have the opportunity to guide businesses and governments in making important policy and financial decisions that affect matters like healthcare prices, tax and interest rates and energy costs. For candidates who are as interested in how and why resources are used in certain ways as they are in the numbers behind those trends, economics is a worthwhile subject of study.

Find Your Degree
BestDegreePrograms.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.