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Economics is the study of the distribution and consumption of wealth, products, and services. It is a social science that examines market trends, the way economies interact with each other, and the laws that affect the flow of capital. Economists must be detail-oriented, as they often collect and graph data to examine the flow of resources and goods. The position involves a lot of research and forecasting as well, so potential economists should be patient and skilled data collectors. Economics majors should expect to take classes that rely heavily on mathematics; for this reason, enjoyment of the subject, while not necessary, is recommended.
Classes and Assignments of an Economics Major
Economics majors should expect to take a variety of classes that hone skills in math, statistics, survey design, and finance. These include macroeconomics, microeconomics, statistical methods, economics analysis, money and banking, and classes over the history and politics of economics. Economics students will also learn about risk, market trends, and policy analysis. To work as an economist, students commonly need to earn a master’s or doctorate degree. However, there may be some positions open for bachelor’s degree holders, particularly in the federal government sector.
Degree Levels for an Economics Major
- Associate. Associate degrees in economics set the foundation for future study within the field. The classes tend to be fairly general, and serve to train students to develop the skills that will come into play as they advance their education. The most useful college degrees balance out with general education classes.
- Bachelor's. Like with associate degree programs, bachelor’s degree programs balance an economics curriculum with general education classes to encourage students to be well-rounded. However, bachelor’s degree programs build on the knowledge and instruction given at the associate degree level. It is common for students to use the bachelor’s degree as a way of transitioning into higher education, though it is possible to find work in the economics field at this degree level.
- Master's. This is the most common level of education used to break into the economics career field. Building upon the knowledge learned during bachelor’s degree programs, master’s degree programs involve a lot of research, and rely heavily on economic theory. Graduates from this field can go on to become economists or to pursue even higher education.
- Doctoral. Doctoral degree programs in economics prepare future economists and post-secondary teachers by delving even deeper into economic theory, trends, and developments than master’s degree programs. Prior to graduating, students will need to complete a dissertation, which is an advanced research project over a topic relevant to current economic study.
A Future as an Economics Major
Economics majors can become economists after they graduate, a career that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists as earning $83,580 annually. However, the best college degrees prepare students for other careers, both within and outside of the government sector. Students can also forge careers in banking, finance, and consulting, using their knowledge of market trends to help businesses grow and develop. Individuals who earn graduates degrees, like an online economics masters degree, can become professors. According to the BLS, post-secondary economics teachers average an annual salary of $83,030. However, keep in mind that these numbers are not set in stone. Salaries vary across location and by employer, and the amount of experience that you have within the field plays a part in determining your wages as well.
- Actuaries (Best salary!)
- Financial managers
- Financial analysts
- Tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents