The Economics of an Economics Major

By: Christopher

It’s that time of year when many students have to decide what they are going to major in to prepare themselves for a career.  Registering for classes may be a daunting task for those that aren’t quite sure on what they are majoring in or aren’t confident to think they’ve made the right choice. Rest assured that I may have found the answer for some of you: become an economics major.

Economics comes from the Greek words ‘oikos,’ which means house, and ‘nomos,’ which means rule or law. In essence, it means the study of rules of the household. In the modern realm of economics, it has been expanded to include the household’s decision making processes to sectors of an industry to entire economies of the world. The profession seeks to derive order from a seemingly chaotic world of spontaneity to understand not only how the world works down to the individual but also to predict the future based on the patterns of the past.

Econ major

Skills

The field of economics requires students to understand and interpret complex issues while taking into account certain variables. Here is a list of skills and interests that are characteristic of an economic frame of mind:

Research and Analysis

  • Ability to generate ideas and develop them to their fullest extent
  • Applying statistical methods i.e. regression analysis
  • Testing those ideas to find truth

Data

  • Manipulating data to become useful
  • Developing budgets and projections to understand what the future may hold
  • Organizing data in a way that makes sense

Problem Solving

  • Understand a situation in order to define the problem and assess possible solutions
  • Evaluate effectiveness of policy
  • Transforming theory into the real world

Communication

  • Summarizing results
  • Presenting data in a concise and organized fashion

Naturally, the major will develop these interests that you may have into skills that are valuable in the long run toward a career in different industries.

Career opportunities

Because economics covers a wide range of skills, economics majors have very diverse career paths. This offers a wide range of options for someone that may feel more at home in the public sector rather than private or healthcare over banking. Here are some fields and positions within those fields that employ economics majors.

Business, Banking, and Finance

  • Securities Analyst
  • Operations Analyst
  • Trust Officer
  • Equity Trader
  • Hedge Fund Administrator
  • Cost Estimator
  • Investment Banker
  • Asset Manager
  • Financial Advisor

Economic Development

  • Regional/Urban Planner
  • Economic Development Coordinator
  • Public Utilities Manager
  • Redevelopment Specialist

Government

  • Economist
  • Public Affairs Specialist
  • Budget Analyst
  • Purchasing Agent
  • Program Manager

International Trade

  • Export Marketing Representative
  • International Sales
  • Export Sales Representative
  • Market Research Analyst
  • International Trade Specialist
  • International Business Development Manager
  • Shipping/Transport Clerk
  • Trade Finance Specialist
  • Export Credit Insurance Specialist

Public Policy

  • Program Analyst
  • Administrative Analyst
  • Government Relations Advisor
  • Policy Coordinator
  • Budget Analyst
  • Consultant, Public Sector
  • Trade Policy Analyst
  • Research Associate
  • Community Affairs Advisor

These sectors all demand people with the same skills that an economics degree provides, yet for those that want to further their career within academia and also to expand their career opportunities,  graduate school can cater to those needs.

And if you’re worried about not getting paid for your hard work, economics majors are the highest paid in all the social sciences and fair very well in the graduate follow-up report.

Although deciding on a career field may be a lot to think about, taking an introductory economics class can help your decision making process.

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