Top Career Paths: Labour and Demographic Economics
Are you a labour or demographic economist wondering about the career options which are open to you? Then you should consider these jobs.
Working for a labour union
With your knowledge about labour issues, as an economist, you can be a great boon to a labour union. You might work for a union directly as a researcher, or you might work for a company which supports unions by providing them with consultants or information. As more and more people go into work which is outside the traditional labour structure – think of all the people who work part-time or for the gig economy of Uber, Airbnb, and so on – labour rights are as important as ever. If you feel strongly that you would like to use your education to do go in the world and to help secure better pay and conditions for workers, then working with a union is one of the best ways to do this.
Naturally, working for a union has some downsides. It is a highly political environment, and labour rights are the sort of issue on which everyone has an opinion which is often held very strongly. Some companies and even some governments are strongly anti-union and may use intimidation, threats, or even force against union members. You'll have to be ready for lots of politics and debates, and decision-making which can be very slow. You could look for work with a union such as the National Union of Teachers (https://www.teachers.org.uk/), the Teamsters (https://teamster.org/), or the American Nurses Association (http://www.nursingworld.org/).
Working in public health
A field to consider if your background is in demographic economics is public health. Public health initiatives, such as promoting healthy eating or discouraging people from smoking, require a large amount of research and support to bring into practice. If you have experience working with large datasets and an understanding of how different demographics affect people's behaviour and how to reach them, then you could try working in public health.
In a public health role, you would likely be working for the government, which has the advantage of excellent job stability and good benefits. If you are looking for a long-term, safe career option then this is a good choice. You can look for public health jobs with organisations such as the British National Health Service (http://www.nhs.uk) or the US National Institute of Mental Health (https://www.nimh.nih.gov).
Doing academic research or teaching
Another option to consider is staying in academia. If you enjoy the university atmosphere and took a great deal of pleasure from completing your research projects during your studies, then you could enjoy a career as a researcher or university lecturer. It's worth mentioning that the pay for these jobs tends to be merely okay, and that the hours can be long. A particular concern is that jobs in academia are often not reliable or long-term, so you might find yourself job hunting regularly. But if you can deal with these issues, then working in research and/or teaching is one of the most intellectually rewarding careers you can have.
Teaching jobs at universities are suited to people who are capable of communicating clearly with students who are still learning, and to those who have the good organisational skills which are required for managing timetables, assessments, revision notes, and all the other factors which help to support students in their learning. You will need to be patient and understanding, and willing to work with students who may be unsure or uninterested at times. For all this, teaching work can be extremely rewarding as you get to shape and influence how the next generation of economists will think about the field.
Research jobs might be in academia or in industry, and will typically involve a lot of number crunching and data analysis. If you excelled at statistics and at writing reports, then working in research could be a natural fit for you. You'll have to be able to convey your results to a non-academic audience, but if you can do that then research a very interesting career. You could try to get a job at a university such as the London School of Economics (http://www.lse.ac.uk/) or the Florida State University (https://www.fsu.edu/). You could look for a research job with an organisation such as the National Bureau of Economic Research (http://www.nber.org).
For more career advice, including top career path articles for other specialisations, have a look at our website, INOMICS.com.
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