The role of an Economist is to address, solve, and prevent financial problems in order to ensure businesses and the overall global economy run smoothly. Using their skills and advanced knowledge of economic matters, these professionals collect, analyze, and interpret statistical data, presenting their findings to business executives or governmental authorities.
Based on the data they collect and analyze, as well as on their professional research, Economists are in charge of establishing how financial resources and available services should be produced and allocated, always aiming to meet the best scenario, preventing losses and future risks.
Economists must be able to understand the implications and effects that social and natural events have on businesses and their economic activities. Many Economists work as Financial Advisers thanks to their deep understanding of the complex aspects that move and affect global economy. They are qualified to provide recommendations to their employers on matters such as commercial trade, investments, and strategic planning of businesses. They usually work for governmental institutions, as well as private corporations or firms dedicated to economic research.
- Studying economic behaviors and documenting their observations and recommendations for them to be featured into reports, presentations, or academic publications:
- Analyzing all factors that may influence the global economy and the labor market;
- collecting, organizing, and interpreting data using specialized software, along with spreadsheet and database applications; and
- drafting budget reports, estimating costs and profits and explaining economic repercussions.
- Designing and applying mathematical and statistical methods to help collect and interpret data more efficiently, as well as to prove and demonstrate economic principles.
- Predicting supply and demand of different goods and services taking into account previously registered sales, specific industry factors, and global economic trends:
- Analyzing market trends prior to developing/launching new products and providing advice on marketing and sales strategies based on their observations; and
- researching and analyzing the consumption of renewable and non-renewable resources.
- Promoting cost-efficiency measures and recommending ways to limit expenses.
- Evaluating the efficiency of currently established financial programs and policies:
- Advising private companies or governmental authorities on ways to improve or solve issues related to their economic activities.
- Evaluating and overseeing issues that can affect the economy, such as inflation, deflation, living costs, and working rates.
- Studying and understanding the economic world and its repercussions in order to interpret and foresee its behavior.
- Collecting data using various methods, such as market research and surveys.
- Applying mathematical and statistical models, as well as economic principles, to understand and interpret collected data.
- Documenting and presenting results in the form of reports, presentations, or academic papers.
- Providing expert advice on economic issues to employers and clients.
The average Economist salary in USA is $70,545 per year or $36 per hour. This is around 2.4 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $49,000 while most experienced workers make up to $99,000. These results are based on 116 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Computer skills and mathematical knowledge:
- Displaying high proficiency using computerized tools and specialized software, including the ability to use statistical programming languages (e.g. SAS, Stata, and R);
- employing mathematical principles to analyze and predict economic trends; and
- being able to create graphics, flow charts, and projections in order to present data and forecasts.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills:
- Effectively researching and analyzing numerical data, using a variety of software programs, including spreadsheets, statistical analysis, and database management programs, and providing reasonable recommendations;
- being able to review data, observe patterns, and draw logical conclusions;
- identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner; and
- being able to exercise strategical thinking and mature judgment.
- Outstanding organizational and time management skills:
- Prioritizing and planning work activities in order to manage time efficiently while handling a high volume of work;
- being able to work within deadlines;
- being able to work under pressure; and
- multitasking; being able to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment.
- Strong attention to detail and critical-thinking skills:
- Entering and analyzing data efficiently and accurately in order to provide more precise forecasts; and
- being able to use logic and reasoning to solve complex problems.
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, both in writing and verbally, in order to give presentations and advise clients on economic issues, simplifying technical jargon and concepts as required;
- being able to write and present economic reports based on the collected data;
- establishing and maintaining supportive work relationships; and
- being able to work independently and as part of a team.
It takes more than a natural affinity and talent with numbers to be a successful Economist. These professionals must be avid and creative thinkers, and must have the necessary motivation to conduct extensive research in order to understand and foresee the behavior of the financial world.
A bachelor’s degree is usually not enough to be part of this field. Therefore, Economists need to have completed at least a master’s degree in Economics, Mathematics, Statistics, or any other related quantitative science. Additionally, it is highly advisable to get a Ph.D. in one of the aforementioned fields as it will allow applicants to have more job opportunities, as well as teaching at a university level, which can bring them closer to the research field. However, applicants who want to be part of a Ph.D. program in Economics don’t necessarily need to have a master’s degree. Instead, a bachelor’s degree is enough to apply.
Although not obligatory, being part of a professional organization is a great way to establish professional connections and get job offers. The Association for Social Economics and The National Association for Business Economists are just two of the options available in the US.
Although employers give a lot of importance to the academic achievements of their prospective employees, they know that some things can’t be learned from books and require a more practical approach. Therefore, experience is as important as education in this field. The most common way for aspiring Economists to obtain experience for certain jobs is by participating in internship programs while finishing their career. These programs often include conducting research, collecting and sorting data, and writing reports based on their findings, which are some of the foundations of the work most Economists do.
In order to advance and climb the career ladder, many young Economists choose to attend specialized courses, seminars, and conferences in order to further develop their skills and increase their knowledge of the field. This will also give them a slight edge over other candidates and will eventually allow them to become independent consultants.
The grand majority of Economists work on the standard office hours. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for them to spend extra hours at work whenever there is a special project or deadline coming up.