One of the great things about studying economics is that it gives you a wide range of skills: from writing to data analysis to critical thinking. With these skills, you are well set for all sorts of different careers. But you might be wondering what the best career path for you is. To help with this, we're producing a series of articles on top career paths for economists. To let you find the right career for your specific skill set, we're breaking the topic down into different specialisations within economics.
Today we're looking at careers for those who specialise in economic systems. This area of study looks at how resources are allocated and goods or services are distributed within a particular social group or geographic area, as well as how production occurs within the system. Here are some of the careers which this specialisation will prepare you for:
If you think of a company or an organisation as a system, then it's clear how an understanding of economic systems can help with managing the people within that company or organisation. To be able to get the best work from people, they need to be managed in a way that is fair, motivating, and supports them in achieving their goals. Management can be a much more difficult job than people imagine – just think of all the stories you've heard about terrible bosses! - but it can also be rewarding to help workers achieve their full potential. Management can also be well paid and is a fairly stable long-term career.
Working in management requires a particular personality type. You need to be calm, even under pressure, and able to communicate effectively with everyone from the most junior new hires to the senior management of your company. You also need to be confident enough to stand your ground and to assert your authority when required. If this sounds like you, you might be surprised by how much crossover there is between the knowledge which you learned from studying economic systems and the skills which are required for management.
An alternative to working for one company as a manager is to work as a management consultant. In this role, you are temporarily assigned to a company to help improve their management practices. This might include observing current management, suggesting and testing new strategies, and helping to train existing managers. This role is well suited to someone who is a natural problem solver and who enjoys coming up with innovative approaches to problems.
One advantage of working as a management consultant is that it is very well paid. Another factor to consider is that this role will require you to frequently move from one company to another, usually moving from one office or location to another too. For some, this will be an advantage as it keeps work fresh and means that you are unlikely to get bored. For others, however, this will be a disadvantage as it makes it difficult to feel settled anywhere and to make friends with your colleagues.
An alternative to management for those with experience in economic systems is working for a local or regional council. With knowledge of planning and strategy and with aims to reform outdated or ineffective practices, you are well positioned to offer support to local governments when they are examining issues such as property rights, assistance programs, or even urban planning.
This work is generally not glamorous or well paid, however, it does present the opportunity to make a real impact on the quality of life of people living in your region. Local politics can be a challenging area which requires skills in communication and diplomacy to get what you want, but it can also be immensely rewarding to see a program that you helped to plan and institute come into fruition.
For more career advice for economists, see INOMICS.COM.
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