Most economist jobs require an advanced degree, but some entry-level jobs are available with a bachelor’s degree.
A master’s degree or Ph.D. is required for most economist jobs. Positions in business, research, or international organizations often require a combination of advanced education and work experience.
Students can pursue an advanced degree in economics with a bachelor’s degree in a number of fields, but a strong background in math is essential. A Ph.D. in economics requires several years of study after earning a bachelor's degree, including doing detailed research in a specialty field.
Candidates with a bachelor’s degree qualify for some entry-level economist positions, including jobs with the federal government. An advanced degree is sometimes required for advancement to higher level positions.
Most who complete a bachelor’s degree in economics find jobs outside the economics profession as research assistants, financial analysts, market analysts, and similar positions in business and finance.
Aspiring economists can gain valuable experience from internships that involve gathering and analyzing data, conducting interviews and surveys, and writing reports on their findings. In addition, related experience, such as working in business or finance, can be advantageous.
Analytical skills. Economists must be able to review data, observe patterns, and draw logical conclusions. For example, some economists analyze historical employment trends to make future projections on jobs.
Critical-thinking skills. Economists must be able to use logic and reasoning to solve complex problems. For instance, they might identify how economic trends may affect an organization.
Detail oriented. Economists must pay attention to details. Precise data analysis is necessary to ensure accuracy in their findings.
Math skills. Economists use the principles of statistics, calculus, and other advanced topics in mathematics in their economic analyses.
Speaking skills. Economists must be able to explain their work to others. They may give presentations, explain reports, or advise clients on economic issues. They may collaborate with colleagues and sometimes must explain economic concepts to those without a background in economics.
Writing skills. Economists must be able to present their findings clearly. Many economists prepare reports for colleagues or clients; others write for publication in journals or for news media.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition