If you're finishing up a degree in economics, you might be wondering what career options you have open to you. Fortunately, an economics degree gives you many transferable skills, including hard skills like data analysis as well as soft skills like presentation, all of which can be useful in landing you a job. Below we're listing ten of the top employers for economists, to give you some ideas about what jobs might be available to you once you graduate.
For those who have completed a bachelor's or master's degree in economics, universities remain one of the biggest potential employers. You could do a PhD, or be employed as a research assistant or lecturer in economics. The advantages of such positions are the chance to direct new and innovative research, and to build up excellent networks of contacts in the field, however, the compensation is lower than in other positions and competition can be fierce.
2. Research institutes / Graduate teaching centres
Related to universities, another option for employment of economists is graduate schools or research institutes. These offer similar advantages to working in a university, but with more emphasis on research than on teaching. This can be an advantage for those who want to focus on publishing papers, but a disadvantage for those who enjoy the challenge of teaching less experienced students.
3. Banks / Finance sector
Knowledge of economics will set you up well for a career in banking or finance, for example as a finance director or a financial analyst. Large banks such as HSBC or NatWest have offices all over the world, giving you the potential to travel to many new places with your work. The compensation tends to be very good in the finance sector, allowing you the freedom that a higher salary offers.
4. Private companies
Small to medium businesses are a potential source of employment which shouldn't be overlooked. While such businesses are unlikely to need an economist specifically unless that is part of their market strategy, you can be successful in such roles by making use of your transferable skills, like critical thinking, statistics, and report writing.
If there's a political or social issue which you're passionate about, you could find an NGO doing work in that area, such as Oxfam which works on eliminating poverty, or Médecins Sans Frontières which provides healthcare for people in developing countries.
6. Think tanks / Pressure groups
Like NGOs, think tanks are organisations which perform research and create campaigns to try to influence policy. If you want to be involved in the nitty-gritty of policy making, working in a think tank such as the Centre for European Policy gives you this chance.
The state or civil service is another employer which commonly recruits economics graduates. While these jobs can be less well paid than others, they do offer long-term job security, which makes them attractive in difficult economic climates.
8. Environmental sector
With increasing awareness of the effect that human activity is having on the planet, the environmental sector is growing and is expected to continue to grow. Economists are valuable in this sector in organisations such as the United Nations Environment Programme to give advice on sustainability and economic development goals.
Another growth field is healthcare, which becomes more and more important with an ageing world population. There is a need for analysts to look at data about healthcare costs and to find affordable solutions for healthcare providers. Depending on the country, this could be in either a private or a state setting.
10. Internet / Communications
A final area to which economics graduates are well-suited for employment is in the area of internet and communications. Many internet companies want to make use of large data sets, and economists have skills in this kind of data analysis which can be helpful. As well as big famous companies like Google or Microsoft, lots of smaller internet-based startup companies could be potential employers too.
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