What is an Economist?
If you remember the housing bubble of 2009, you may also remember that only the most astute economists forecast its collapse. You may wonder why some economists missed it. The reason likely lies in the definition of an economist outlined by Investopedia: “Economics is a social science concerned with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. It studies how individuals, businesses, governments, and nations make choices about how to allocate resources. Economics focuses on the actions of human beings, based on assumptions that humans act with rational behavior, seeking the most optimal level of benefit or utility.”
As a social science, then, there are often variables that can go undetected, despite large amounts of data. Because corporations, governments, and financial institutions rely heavily on the expertise of economists to achieve the best results surrounding labor, trade, and resources, getting the right training in economics is key. Such training should not only include the foundational knowledge and principles for becoming an economist, but also the broader critical thinking skills essential for accurately informing decisions that increase profits, construct public policy, and drive research.
Ottawa University’s Bachelor of Arts in Business Economics (BBE) degree program is designed to do exactly that. Its curriculum is built on a foundation of critical thinking in economics and provides students with real-world insight into the decisions made by leaders in business – entrepreneurs, managers, associates, executives, shareholders – as well as the impact of those decisions on society.
What Does an Economist Do?
As a professional who analyzes a society’s resources and how they are used, economists can hold a wide range of responsibilities. Many will vary depending on the exact nature of the work setting or industry; however, some of the duties of an economist include:
- Researching economic issues
- Creating and using varied methods to collect data, including surveys
- Using mathematical and financial models and methods to analyze economic data
- Creating and presenting reports, tables/charts, and documents related to economic findings
- Forecasting marketing trends
- Using data to advise and provide solutions to diverse economic issues
- Performing benefit and cost analysis on the production and distribution of goods and services
- Monitoring economic trends to make informed decisions on consumer spending preferences
- Examining and guiding the cause of business inflation and business cycles
- Informing or creating corporate or government policies related to economics
- Publishing economic findings in academic journals or newsletters
What Types of Economists are There?
The economist is not on a one-size-fits-all career trajectory. There are various types of economists, each with a unique specialization.
Macroeconomists, for example, study the economy as a whole and work to identify trends that can affect those on a regional, national, or international scale or within an entire industry. These trends could relate to such things as taxation, unemployment rates, inflation, or supply and demand.
Microeconomists, on the other hand, focus on smaller-scale economic trends and their impact. They might analyze the above issues concerning a specific government agency or a single corporation.
A labor economist studies the workforce, including wages, employment levels, and trends, labor laws and policies, as well as the demand for labor and availability of workers to meet that demand. Public sector economists, on the other hand, assess government policies, analyze budgets, and collect data to help government officials create and implement new or better policies.
Financial economists are hired by many industries to research and report on a company’s unique economic issues and offer solutions related to the production and distribution of products and services. On a much broader scale, international economists study historical trends and issues related to the international trading of goods and services, as well as international investment.
Other types of economists may include industrial organization economists, econometricians, public finance economists, and academic economists.
Where Do Economists Work?
Jobs in economics can be found in nearly every industry. Entry level jobs might be located in smaller organizations, while experienced master’s degree or PhD educated economists may work in Fortune 500 companies, investment firms, the federal government, or academia. Other jobs in economics or the sub-field of finance might be found in banking, brokering, financial services, security analysis, insurance underwriting, and local government. While a bachelor’s degree in economics is the foundation for a career in economics, the degree can also lend itself to a career as an accountant, actuary, data analyst, financial consultant, financial risk analyst, or economic researcher.
Employment for those entering the field of business and financial operations is projected to grow 5% through 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average wage for economists was $69,800 in May 2019, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $39,800.
Globalization, a growing economy, and a complex tax and regulatory environment are expected to continue to lead to strong opportunities for jobs in economics. Those who wish to advance within the field by earning an online master’s degree can enjoy a median economists' salary of $108,350 per year with a job growth rate of 14%.
How Do I Become an Economist?
If you have a passion for solving business problems and a spirit for innovation, Ottawa University’s accelerated online degree in economics will build on what drives you naturally to prepare you for a long-lasting and fulfilling career. The program offers a solid starting point for advancement in a business or government position, as well as for graduate work in business, law, economics, and finance. Within the major, students can customize the economics degree to their preferences and skills by selecting one of three concentrations:
Conveniently located in Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Phoenix, as well as online, Ottawa University is committed to offering you a flexible, convenient, and superior learning experience. Call to speak with an enrollment advisor today!
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