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Economist


Description

Economists conduct research, analyze statistical information and prepare reports and plans that are used to predict economic problems. They forecast economic behaviors and patterns, anticipate future problems and opportunities and offer innovative economic ideas for solutions and new initiatives. In a nutshell, they attempt to provide people with a practical understanding of how our economy works.

The well being of our economy affects our everyday lives, therefore it is important that people understand how it works and learn about its behavior patterns. Economists study the economy and all of the statistics surrounding it. They are interested in the factors that influence the well-being of people and they aim to find solutions to improve people's standard of living. This includes studying how financial, labor and trade markets are organized and how they interact.

In addition, they research social, political and environmental issues. Economists have to know everything about the strengths and weaknesses of economics, and economic methods and theories. It is also important that they are up to date with technological developments, politics and current affairs. They use models and methodologies to think about the world and specific issues, which may require knowledge of maths including statistics, human behavior, and overseas economic ideas and trends.

Some people think of economists as economic fortunetellers or predictors of our future economy. They must, in fact, forecast what they believe will change and occur in our economy based on the research and analyses they compile. Economists use their knowledge and analytical economic research to advise businesses and other organizations, including insurance companies, banks, securities firms, industry and trade associations, labor unions and government agencies. They must present their statistical concepts in a clear and meaningful way so that people can understand what their data really means.

Economists often specialize in certain areas, such as finance, trade, health and labor, to name a few. Economists who work for the government may assess economic conditions in the US or in foreign nations in order to estimate the economic effects of specific changes in legislation or public policy. For example, economists might compare how the dollar fluctuates against foreign currencies. An economist working in government might also analyze data on employment and unemployment rates in order to project future spending needs. Economists write reports of their findings and present their cases to their employers.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$38,690
 
Median Salary:
$68,550
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$120,440

  Interests and Skills  
Economists have strong mathematical, statistical and analytical skills. They enjoy developing innovative and creative economic models, analyzing information and making economic forecasts and communicating ideas in clear and logical ways (using plain language to describe complex issues). They come into contact with many abstract concepts therefore they must enjoy solving problems.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Conduct research and develop models that illustrate and forecast economic behavior and patterns, and devise methods for the collection and analysis of data
  • Analyze factors that determine economic growth and advise government agencies on policies to increase economic activities
  • Study mathematical formulas and statistical techniques and apply them to the testing and quantifying of economic theories and the solution of economic problems
  • Study the nature of money, credit and credit instruments and the operation of banks and other financial institutions to develop monetary policies and forecasts of financial activity
  • Examine problems related to the economic activity of individual companies
  • Examine financing methods, production costs and techniques and marketing policies to discover possible improvements
  • Study statistics on the exchange of goods and services among nations
  • Forecast production and consumption of renewable resources and the supply, consumption and depletion of non-renewable resources
  • Conduct research on market conditions in local, regional or national areas to set sales and pricing levels for goods and services, as well as assess market potential and future trends
  • Economists generally work in office environments using computers and other forms of research materials to compile and analyze data. Working hours are usually long (up to 10-hour days) and often longer hours are required on weekends or during the evening. They may travel locally and globally to present economic information to clients, to carry out research, and to attend conferences and meetings. They may also travel overseas to conferences and to do contract work in developing countries

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Economists work in both the public and private sectors. They are often employed by the government, educational and research institutions, large organizations in finance and business, professional and recreational organizations, consulting and marketing firms, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the World Bank or the United Nations, amongst other places.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Economists have the ability to move around different analytical financial sectors. They may decide to work as a business analyst, banker or stockbroker. Some economists may decide to become teachers at universities and colleges. Many economists are employed as economic consultants to advise business, industry, government, labor and others. Some economists may open up their own consulting firms. They can also advance into technical writing positions as they have experience writing clear and concise works.
 

  Educational Paths  
As a minimum industry standard, economists generally require a university degree in economics or other fields of finance and business. Many economists also have an MBA and some have PhDs. A master's or doctoral level degree is required for teaching at the postsecondary level and advancement into senior positions. Any programs or courses that expose a student to the world of business and finance are also useful.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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