Is becoming an economist right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
Still unsure if becoming an economist is the right career path? Take the free CareerExplorer career test to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become an economist or another similar career!
Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.
How to become an Economist
Becoming an economist involves a combination of education, skills development, and gaining practical experience. Here are the steps to become an economist:
- Bachelor's Degree: Start with a Bachelor's Degree in Economics or a related field like mathematics, statistics, or finance. Courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, and mathematics are essential.
- Master's Degree (Optional but Recommended): While some entry-level positions accept candidates with a bachelor's degree, pursuing a Master's Degree (MA or MS) or even a Ph.D. in Economics significantly enhances your career prospects, especially for research-oriented and high-level positions.
- Develop Analytical and Technical Skills: Strong quantitative skills are crucial. Take advanced courses in mathematics, statistics, and econometrics to build a solid foundation in data analysis and mathematical modeling. Learn to work with statistical software like Stata, R, SAS, or Python. Proficiency in data visualization tools and databases is also valuable.
- Research Skills: Develop the ability to design and conduct research, analyze data, and draw meaningful conclusions. Participate in research projects or internships to gain hands-on experience.
- Internships and Entry-Level Jobs: Look for internships or entry-level positions in research organizations, government agencies, consulting firms, or businesses. Practical experience helps you apply your knowledge in real-world settings and build a professional network.
- Consider Specialization: Determine your area of interest within economics, such as macroeconomics, microeconomics, labor economics, environmental economics, or international economics. Specialization can guide your course choices and research focus.
- Networking and Professional Development: Join professional organizations such as the American Economic Association (AEA) to connect with other economists, attend conferences, and stay updated on industry trends and research. Engage with professors, researchers, and professionals in the field. Networking can provide valuable insights, mentorship, and potential job opportunities.
- Job Search and Applications: Research potential employers such as government agencies (like the Bureau of Economic Analysis), research institutions, universities, consulting firms, and private corporations. Tailor your resume and cover letter for each application, emphasizing your skills, education, and relevant experience.
- Continue Professional Development: Stay updated with the latest research, methodologies, and economic trends. Consider publishing papers, attending workshops, and continuing education courses to enhance your skills.
There are several professional associations that cater to economists and individuals interested in the field of economics. These associations provide resources, networking opportunities, and a platform for professionals to stay updated on the latest research and industry trends. Here are some prominent associations for economists:
- American Economic Association (AEA): AEA is one of the most well-known associations for economists. It organizes an annual meeting, publishes several academic journals, and provides resources for economists, researchers, and educators.
- National Association for Business Economics (NABE): NABE is a professional association for business economists and those who use economics in the workplace. It offers events, webinars, publications, and networking opportunities.
- Association for Social Economics (ASE): ASE focuses on social economics, emphasizing the ethical and social dimensions of economic life. It publishes the journal "Review of Social Economy" and organizes conferences and events.
- Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM): APPAM is dedicated to improving public policy and management by fostering excellence in research, analysis, and education. It hosts an annual research conference and offers publications and resources for policymakers and researchers.
- Institute of Management Sciences (TIMS)/Operations Research Society of America (ORSA) – INFORMS: INFORMS is the leading international association for professionals in operations research, management science, and analytics. It provides a platform for sharing knowledge and research findings in these fields.
- International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE): IAFFE promotes feminist inquiry of economic issues and provides a supportive environment for those working on feminist approaches to economics. It hosts an annual conference and publishes the "Feminist Economics" journal.
- National Economics Association (NEA): NEA focuses on promoting the professional lives of minorities within the Economics profession. It organizes an annual conference and provides mentoring and networking opportunities.
- Association for Evolutionary Economics (AFEE): AFEE promotes evolutionary and institutional economics. It publishes the "Journal of Economic Issues" and hosts conferences and events centered around evolutionary economic theories.