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What Are My Career Options in Applied Economics?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue with a degree in applied economics. Read on to learn more about career options along with education requirements and earning potential.

What Are Career Options in Applied Economics?

Applied economics focuses on applying economic principles to a wide variety of fields, such as finance, education, trade, health or the environment. Career opportunities in applied economics can be found in corporate, government or academic settings, working in-house or as consultants.

Economists work in many industries and for government, collecting data, analyzing trends and making predictions about economic activity. You could also work as a financial analyst, which involves providing guidance and assistance to businesses and individuals in making financial and investment decisions. Management analysts are responsible for developing various business strategies and solutions for solving economic problems. Explore the following table to learn about the requirements for a few potential career titles related to applied economics.

Economist Financial Analyst Management Analyst
Degree Required Master's or Ph.D. Bachelor's or master's degree Bachelor's or master's degree
Education Field of Study Applied Economics, Economics Finance, Economics Business, Economics, Finance
Key Skills Analyzing data; applying economic theories to real-life situations Economic forecasting; analyzing financial models Developing business solutions; interviewing employees; analyzing economic data
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 8% 6% 14%
Median Salary (2018)* $104,340 $85,660 $83,610

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Types of Jobs Can I Find in Applied Economics?

Applied economists use theoretical models to provide information that is directly used to make many types of decisions. As an applied economist, you might focus on researching and analyzing data to create forecasting models or you may work to translate those statistical figures into information that people without much knowledge of economics can understand. For example, a corporate economist or financial analyst would help a business apply economic theories to direct its strategies and gain a competitive advantage in its industry. In public finance, you may explain in the media how proposed tax cuts could impact people.

You can also look for jobs that do not have the word 'economist' in the title, such as a risk analyst, which would require you to monitor and understand trends related to a specific topic. You may also use your applied economics skills to work as a consultant or in a government agency.

What Education Do I Need?

You can begin some entry-level jobs in the government with a bachelor's degree in economics, but you will likely need at least a master's degree for careers in corporate economics, financial analysis, public finance, etc., especially if you want to advance in your career. If you hope to have more responsibility or impact on decisions that are made with the economic data, or if you prefer to focus on research, you will likely need a professional degree. You can also find certifications in specific topics such as forecasting and communications through professional societies like the National Association for Business Economics.

What Subjects Will I Study?

Because applied economists focus heavily on gathering, reading and interpreting data, you will need a strong background in mathematics and statistics. You will likely focus on microeconomics to understand the supply and demand in a consumer sector, as well as macroeconomics to identify how a society's economy functions overall. Computer science classes are also be important for preparing you to track and manipulate data.

How Much Can I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median salary for all economists, including those in fields related to applied economics, was $104,340 in 2018 It also found that most economists worked in the federal government and earned a median salary of $123,570 in that year.

The BLS also reported that financial analysts made a median salary of $85,660 in 2018, while management analysts earned a median of $83,610 per year. According to the BLS, as economies throughout the world become more dependent on one another and competition among businesses increases, applying economic knowledge to practical situations will continue to be important.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

You may also be interested in a career as an actuary, which requires a bachelor's degree. Actuaries are involved in risk management. They look at prospective business policies and decisions to estimate how much money they will cost and how statistically likely various outcomes are. Another other is a career as a mathematician. Mathematicians, who typically have master's degrees, are responsible for conducting research using mathematics to analyze data and solve real-world problems.