As an economics graduate, you offer innumerable skills to the professional world. Earning an economics degree gives graduates a clear grasp of how organizations and financial systems operate.
But you can apply the foundations of economics to more than money. Data entry, mathematics, and critical thinking are transferable skills that bring value to many industries. With so many jobs you can get with an economics degree, you might not know where to begin your career post-graduation.
Do what economists do best by analyzing the situation, including your transferable skills and the top economics jobs you can apply them to, plus the typical economics degree job salary to find something that offers financial wellness.
7 transferable skills of an economist
One of the benefits of an economics degree is how wide you can cast your net. Economics students don’t just learn economic theories like supply and demand, macroeconomics, and diminishing returns.
A bachelor’s degree in economics also teaches you to reason, plan strategically, and measure risk and return for organizations and individual clients. Here are seven highly sought-after hard and soft skills you’ve obtained as an economics graduate:
Fluency in quantitative research methodologies
Analytical skills like logical reasoning and critical thinking
Technical knowledge of financial operation systems
Data-backed approaches to problem-solving
Goal-oriented planning and prioritizing
Verbal and written communication skills to explain complex concepts
Attention to detail and organization skills
You can apply these skills to several industries, like the following:
Banking and financial institutions
Accounting and insurance companies
Local, state, and federal government
Research and consulting
Tax, bankruptcy, and financial law
Business management services
9 jobs for economics graduates
Economics isn’t an industry itself, which can make carving out the first steps of your career path daunting. Likewise, for workers in their 40s or 50s looking for a career change, it’s easy to forget that you can leverage your knowledge, experience, and skill set in many roles.
Here are nine employment options for economics graduates.
1. Computer science
Economics and computer science are both mathematically-based fields that rely heavily on probability, statistics, and numerical analysis, so you might find it easy applying your skills in this field, perhaps working as a data scientist, information technology (IT) professional, or statistician.
These are ideal job opportunities for introverts, as you can often work independently and from home. And as dependence on technology grows, economists with a firm base in computer science will be more competitive in their job search.
As of 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defined the average salary for a data scientist as $102,750, with top earners making above $167,040. Statisticians make similar six-figure incomes: the median salary is $95,570, with top earners making above $157,300.
2. Public policy
Federal, state, and local governments are the second largest employers of economists. A government-employed economist will collect and analyze economic data, including employment rates, prices, and economic trends like productivity.
They typically interface with policy analysts on the impacts of laws, regulations, and economics programs to help in the decision-making and design process of new public policy.
The BLS denotes the average annual salary for government-employed economists as $125,950.
3. Market research analysis for think tanks
A think tank is an institute that conducts research and advocacy on various topics and industries, including social policy, political strategy, and technology. Economics graduates can work as market research analyzers for think tanks in any industry they choose.
While the average salary depends on the think tank’s industry, according to the BLS, market research analysts can make up to $128,320.
4. Human resources
If you’re willing to return to school, many universities offer interdisciplinary majors that combine economics and human resources management, and master’s degrees in economics and business administration are also common. Both specializations help graduates learn how to develop employee value propositions and policies around wages, wage incentives, and productivity.
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for HR managers is $62,290, although top earners can make about $108,000.
5. Credit analysis
Credit analysts decipher individuals’ and firms’ credit data and financial statements to measure the risk of extending a line of credit or loan. A bachelor’s degree in economics is enough for an entry-level position, but high-earning jobs in competitive industries may require a master’s degree in finance or business administration.
According to the BLS, average salaries vary widely depending on the industry. Commercial banks and credit unions employ the most credit analysts, with a median salary of $86,920. And credit analysts working in securities and finance make more than $124,770.
6. Financial advising
Financial analysts are the middleman between people or companies and investment profits. They’re well-versed in finance, international markets, and investment theory and are in charge of interpreting stock, bond, and other investment performance.
Successful financial advisors use both math skills and charisma to analyze complex market data and offer recommendations to help clients make good decisions.
According to the BLS, salaries vary widely depending on the industry and specialization. Financial risk specialists working in securities and commodities make a median annual salary of $127,110, while those at commercial banks make $79,910. And senior financial risk specialists are among the highest-paying jobs for economics majors, with top performers earning $171,000.
7. Budget analysis
Budget analysts are the intermediaries between business administration and product development. They balance a mix of math, problem-solving, and people management skills when analyzing the financial feasibility of project proposals and working with department leaders to seek alternative solutions.
A bachelor’s degree is enough to enter the field, although an optional certified government financial manager credential will likely offer more income. Pay varies between the private and public sectors, with median salaries of $98,030 and $87,190, respectively.
8. Legal assistance
Government institutions and businesses require attorneys with specific know-how on the legal implications of economic and financial decisions. Attorneys specializing in finance law combine a mixture of critical thinking, verbal and written communication skills, and math-based logic to offer money-minded legal advice.
Law school is a big commitment, and economics students and recent graduates should consider an internship or externship to evaluate whether a legal profession is a match for them before returning to school.
Salaries vary widely depending on location, specialty, and years of experience. But according to Glassdoor, financial attorneys can earn an average salary of $190,752, with top earners making up to $333,000.
9. Financial management
For economics graduates or mid-level workers who envision a C-suite leadership position in their future, financial managers often become chief financial officers.
These professionals lead teams to build an organization’s economic blueprint, making them adept people managers who coordinate with department leaders across a company, from human resources to product development.
Financial managers typically have a relevant bachelor’s degree and at least five years of experience assisting companies or clients with their finances. A certified management accountant credential or an advanced degree in business administration or a related field will help make an applicant stand out.
The BLS notes the median salary for a position with a private company as $158,820, with top earners across industries making about $208,000.
Advanced certifications to take your economics degree to the next level
In many cases, climbing the ladder requires work experience. But advanced certifications can help you land a great first position or win over hiring managers.
Here are a few extended learning opportunities worth considering:
Actuarial certification: Actuaries must earn several certificates over the course of a few years to become certified.
These certifications prepare you for risk management modeling, advanced math concepts, and actuarial techniques for constructing financial risk policies in the finance and insurance industries.
Market research certification: Market research certification allows you to study an industry’s target audience, ethics and best practices, and current market.
You’ll show employers that, while you don’t have direct work experience, you do have industry-focused knowledge and are genuinely interested in the field.
Chartered financial analyst certification: A CFA certification teaches advanced investment analysis and portfolio management skills and is ideal for research analysts and portfolio managers.
This certificate can open doors across the finance industry, making you a competitive candidate in wealth management firms, investment banking, and consulting.
Master’s degree: While many roles only require a bachelor’s degree, a specialized master’s degree — like in applied, agricultural, or managerial economics — can keep you up-to-date on evolving technologies and set you up for a niche industry.
The numbers add up
Economics graduates offer so much more than number-crunching skills. Your research, communication, and analytical proficiencies make you a qualified candidate for promising governance, business, and banking positions. And going to school offers skills in itself, like time management, productivity, and conflict resolution.
When considering all the jobs you can get with an economics degree, prioritize your interests, consider your employee strengths, and lean on your professional network and you’re sure to embark on a fulfilling career.