How to Become an Economist
Economist Job Description
Skills and Qualities of an Economist
Economist Salaries
Influential Professional Economists
Leading Organizations for Economists
Top Cities for Economist Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become an Economist

In this profession, the minimum seems to be a master's degree in economics, although many positions require doctoral degrees today. There are not any professional designations for economists, but experience is important and features heavily into the quality of a candidate. Some employers are also looking for economists that also understand the inner workings of business, so sometimes candidates with a more rounded, diverse background have better opportunities. In these cases, sometimes a business degree is also useful.

What does an Economist do?

Economists are social scientists that study how, where, when and why people groups go about business and producing products and services. They look things like how land is used and distributed amongst owners/users, raw material availability and/or trade, availability, education level and size of labor forces, energy sources and costs. They also spend a great deal of time on the numbers - tax rates, inflation rates, interest percentages and currency exchange rates and changes. In the end, it is all about gathering and analyzing data, and extrapolating important observations and then developing recommendations based on those observations. This information feeds into the development of economic reports, forecasts and studies.

Because something like "the economy" is a rather huge territory, economists also specialize in much narrower fields, sometimes along industry lines or geographic lines or perspectives (from micro to macro) on the economic forces and dynamics of a location. Economists area also known to become specialists on certain historical time frames. Economists' findings are used in a variety of ways that sometimes are not seen as having much to do with hard, cold cash and numbers. For example, economic data can be applied to the assessment and development of health standards and policies for a group of people, used to aid agricultural development, employed to develop public policy and law on standard business practices, environmental issues and initiatives, etc. On the other hand, economists' work can in deed be translated to increasing the bottom line as some economists spend time observing people groups' buying trends or advising on a particular company's direct competitors.

Economists work for a variety of employers, as well, including accounting firms, banks, government agencies and entities (like the Department of Labor, for example), law firms, consumer products manufacturers, insurance companies, research and consulting firms, universities, etc. Economists are also employed as advisors to legislators and government officials. For example, campaigning politicians almost always have an economic advisor. In fact, some politicians even started their careers initially as economists. After all, politics, like economics, is about applied social science.

What skills or qualities do I need to become an Economist?

The ability to perform analytical, computational and precise data analysis on a frequent basis is key, as is being able to simultaneously deal with data that is highly detailed as well as complex. Communication skills are also important, as economists do not work in a vacuum and must prepare their findings and recommendations in a way that is understandable to people without the benefit of an extensive economics background. In some cases, economists are required to be spokes people for their organizations or employers, and as such, their communication skills must be exceptionally strong.

How much does an Economist make?

In 2007, the salary range for economists was from $43,000 - $141,000+. Interestingly, government and related entities was the largest employer type.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

The Greeks, specifically Aristotle, are viewed as having invented this subject, but it was not until the 1700's that modern economic studies started to appear. Richard Cantillon (1680-1734), David Hume (1711-1776), Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), David Ricardo (1772-1823), and Adam Smith (1723-1790) are also seen as the fore fathers of modern economics. For leading professionals today, it's a good idea to check the leadership of key professional organizations in this field. For example, Ellen Hughes-Cromwick is the President of the National Association for Business Economics, and is also the Director and Chief Economist for the Ford Motor Company.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The National Association for Business Economics is a leading organization in economics.

What are the top cities for Economist jobs?

Large city centers are best bets, like New York, Washington D.C., Boston and Chicago - places where here are large government and corporate facilities. These locations are also the historical financial power houses of the nation.

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