Career Opportunities for Economists
Why Study Economics?
With an economics degree, your career options are endless. The general applicability of economics is one reason why it has become the most popular major at some of the nation’s most elite colleges and universities. Economics training enhances logical reasoning and analytical skills, skills that are useful in a wide variety of occupational fields, including general business, government, law, securities, banking, insurance, and real estate. Additionally, a bachelor's degree in economics provides excellent preparation for graduate school and law school.
What is Economics?
Economics is captivating because of its breadth. Like the psychologist, the economist is concerned with individual behavior. Like the sociologist, the economist is concerned with the behavior of groups. Like the political scientist, the economist is concerned about how the laws and policies generated by legal and political institutions affect our lives. Like the historian, the economist is concerned about how the past affects and gives context to the present. Like a natural scientist, the economist seeks an understanding of how the resources and processes of the natural world affect humans. Like the mathematician, the economist uses quantitative tools to describe and analyze. There is little entirely outside the scope of economics.
Yet, economics does have a focus. The fundamental economic fact is that resources are scarce. Natural resources, our time, and our money are all scarce relative to their potential uses. Economics is a field of study focusing on the implications of resource scarcity. The fundamental implication of scarcity is that it forces people to make choices about how to “allocate” the scarce resource. Economics is broad in scope because economic concepts apply to any situation where a choice is made. Examples include:
- choices made by individuals to work, to play, to buy and to sell;
- choices made by firms to purchase productive inputs (labor, capital, and raw materials), to carry inventories, to move to a new location, to develop new technology, and to sell products;
- choices made by governments to tax, to spend, to change laws, and to regulate.
In addition to a focus on choice, economics has also had a tradition of focusing on the processes through which individuals and groups interact and affect each other. In 1890, Alfred Marshall defined economics as “a study of mankind in the ordinary business of life.” Economists develop models of social processes and use these to forecast the outcomes experienced by those involved.
Careers and Salaries for Economists
Economists apply economic analysis to research and analyze economic issues. This involves the analysis of data using various statistical techniques and may include conducting cost-benefit analyses, interpreting and creating forecasts, or conducting economic impact analyses. Frequently, policy recommendations are derived from economic analysis.
According to a study published in 2015, the median annual salary for economic majors is $76,000 and $75,000 for business economic majors in 2013. Below is the median yearly salary for all business majors.
- Information systems and statistics: $77,000
- Economics: $76,000
- Business Economics: $75,000
- Finance: $73,000
- Accounting: $69,000
- General Business: $65,000
- Marketing: $63,000
- International Business: $60,000
- High School Graduate: $36,000
Carnevale, A. P., Cheah, B., & Hanson, A. R. (2015). The economic value of college majors. Georgetown University, Center on Education and the Workforce. McCourt School of Public Policy.
Below are the eight common jobs for individuals with a degree in economics, according to payscale.com, along with the average annual salary.
- Data Scientist: $92,000
- Management Consultant: $83,000
- Project Manager: $72,000
- Operations Manager: $68,000
- Data Analyst: $60,000
- Financial Analyst: $60,000
- Business Analyst: $59,000
- Research Analyst: $54,000
Other career options include:
- Credit Analyst
- Financial Advisor
- Bank Examiner
- Environmental Researcher
- Health Economist
- Market Researcher
- Business Reporter
When thinking about looking for an internship or a job, your first stop should be the College of Business Career and Corporate Outreach Center.
Links for economic-related job listings:
Employers who have hired University of Nevada economics majors include: America West Airlines, Bank of America, Boomtown, Inc., Brass Craft - Division of Masco, Lucini & Associates, Casino Data Systems, Circus Circus, Clark County, City of Las Vegas, City of Reno, City of Sparks, Comstock Bank, Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., Delta Airlines, Federal Aviation Administration, Fibercraft Inc., Hibbs Law Offices, IBM Corporation, IGO.com, Jake's Crane & Rigging, Inc., Merrill Lynch & Company, Metropolitan Life, National Automobile Museum, Nevada Bell, Nevada Gaming Control Board, New Mexico State University, Port of Subs, Prudential-Bache Securities, Realty 500, Sherwin-Williams, Sierra Pacifica Power Company, State of Nevada, Tung Hua University, United States Government, University of Nevada, Reno, University of Pacific, University of Wisconsin, Walther, Key, Maupin et. al., Washoe County, Washoe Legal Services, Weber State University, Wells Fargo Bank.
Economics at UNR
At the University of Nevada, Reno, we offer two different degrees in Economics. Both degrees are designed to prepare students for positions as economic and statistical analysts in business, government, and non-profit organizations, and graduate school.
For those who are interested in learning about economics, but not seeking a career in economics, we offer two types of minors.
UNR also offers the only Ph.D. program in Economics in Nevada as well as two different Master degrees
Good preparation for graduate school or law school
Because economics is broad, economics training enhances a variety of skills, including
- Critical thinking
- Deductive and inductive reasoning
- Research ability
- Quantitative communication and analysis
- Written communication
People trained in economics are trained to recognize the costs and benefits associated with alternative choices. In addition to this type of critical thinking, deductive and inductive reasoning skills are developed in the process of examining “cause and effect” economic relationships. Economic analyses involve data collection, a literature review, theoretical analysis, quantitative analysis, or some combination of these. The results obtained from economic research are usually communicated in writing, with the form of the write up depending upon the intended audience.
According to a 2018 study published in The Journal of Economic Education, students who majored in economics performed significantly better on the LSAT than students with all other majors. Additionally, a 2015 student found that the average annual earning of U.S. Lawyers who majored in economics is $182,359, which is the second-highest ranked earning when classified by
major. This is evidence that economics training provides a good foundation for those students who desire to go on to law school. Moreover, an economics degree is more marketable than any other degree chosen by those who attend law school.
Graduate school in economics is another option. Most people working as professional economists or economic analysts have a graduate degree—either a master’s degree or a Ph.D. For undergraduates considering the pursuit of a graduate degree in economics, quantitative training is more important.