Pros & Cons of Being an Economist


Economists study the choices people make in using their resources -- for example, talent, time, money, land and equipment. Employment rates, stock markets and international trade are the traditional bulwarks of economic analysis, but economists also analyze health care, education and family planning. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, economists get higher pay than average. The job usually requires post-graduate education and mathematical proficiency.

Degree Requirements

  • A con of being an economist is that you need a lot of education to get the job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most economists have either a master's degree or doctorate in their field. On the other hand, those with a doctorate typically have higher salaries and more job security than those without. Someone not prepared to spend the time and money on a graduate education will have a difficult time making a career as an economist with only a bachelor's degree.

Proficiency in Math

  • Being a professional economist requires lots of math, which can be a pro or a con depending on your interests. The average economics grad student got a 772 on their GRE Math score. In his blog, Harvard economist Greg Mankiw advises undergraduate economics students to take as much math as possible. Graduate economic research is very math intensive, and aspiring economists need to prepare themselves for years to be competitive in their field.

Independnt Research

  • Another pro, especially for independent thinkers, is that economists with doctorates often conduct original research to make market forecasts, publish papers, and gain tenure. Those pursuing a career in economics get the satisfaction of working on interesting problems that are unique to the profession. Some in the field consider this intellectual freedom the most rewarding part of the job.

Outlook and Wages

  • Both the outlook and wages are positive points for economics as a career. The BLS predicts a 14 percent growth in jobs for economists between 2012 and 2022, compared to 11 percent for all occupations. Economists with graduate degrees and superior skills in math and analysis will have the best prospects. The average annual income for economists was $101,450 per year as of 2013, according to the BLS, and 10 percent earned $158,090 annually or more.


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