Master's Degree in Economics: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for economists and the benefits of earning a master's degree. Get the facts about education, salary, and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Economics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Economist?

An economist is an expert who studies economic trends, analyzes data and creates recommendations for economic efficiency. Economists may work for companies or organizations, where they analyze consumer behavior and financial markets, enhance their technical skills and expand their employment options. They may also work for the government, where they examine the correlation between a community's, state's or nation's resources and their production and output.

The following is a chart that gives the basic information required to become an economist.

Degree Required Bachelor's and Master's Degree Required, PhD preferred
Education Field of Study Economics, Mathematics, Statistics
Key Skills Data collection and analysis, trend interpretation, report writing
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6%*
Median Salary 2015 $99,180*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Types of Jobs Could I Apply For?

Graduates holding a master's degree in economics are equipped with the skills and knowledge to pursue positions beyond the entry-level or continue their studies towards a doctoral degree in economics. Candidates with advanced degrees may gain employment in several different sectors, including government, corporate, academic and non-profit sectors. You may work in areas of health, law, environment, energy, education or agriculture, among others.

Large international banks, federal and state government agencies, news organizations, financial publications and consulting firms often employ economists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the largest employers of economists were the federal and state governments (www.bls.gov).

Economists often hold various positions in finance and business. You might work as a risk analyst, consultant, financial advisor, business analyst, research analyst, auditor or purchasing manager. If you are interested in teaching, you may find instructor positions at community colleges with a master's degree in economics. However, most colleges and universities require instructors to hold doctoral degrees. A doctoral degree may also be required for top economist positions within some organizations.

What Would My Job Duties Be?

The majority of economists are involved in researching, collecting and analyzing economic data to determine consumer demands and strategies for profit maximization. You will most likely use computers to conduct statistical analyses and create charts, graphs and tables to communicate your findings. Economists often consult mathematical models to make forecasts on future economic trends. They may produce informative reports to help make important business decisions, or publish reports in financial news publications and journals.

Your job responsibilities may also depend on your area of specialization. For instance, if your degree specialty was microeconomics, your job duties might involve determining potential profits made from products at certain prices. Those focused on macroeconomics might look at historical economic data to forecast future trends, such as exchange rates, productivity or inflation. Other specialty areas include econometrics, industrial, labor and international economics.

What Could I Earn With This Degree?

Economists' wages vary with education, geographic area and industry. The BLS reports that the national median annual wage of economists was $99,180 in 2015. Economists working in scientific research and development earned the highest salaries.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Mathematicians use mathematical principles to explain and analyze data. They use their mathematical skills to find answers to a variety of global problems. Mathematicians may work with engineers, scientists, and researchers. You may find them working for the government or private companies.

Political scientists conduct research and studies relating to various political processes. They keep up with political trends and issues regarding governments and their policies. Individuals working in this area should hold a master's degree or higher in political science, public administration or a similar field.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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