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.
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.
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.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- Economists
- American Economics Association: The American Economic Association Graduate Study in Economics Web Pages
- Greg Mankiw: Why Aspiring Economists Need Math
- Greg Mankiw: Which Math Courses?
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013 -- Economists
- Photo Credit AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images
High Paying Careers That Don't Involve Math
You might think that all of the highest-paying jobs involve math, however, many careers have above-average pay without any math skills needed....
Pros and Cons of Being a Plumber
Successful plumbers can earn a good income. But the work can be hard, and plumbers who earn the most money will have...
Pros & Cons of Our U.S. Economic System
An economic system refers to the structure of production, distribution and consumption of economic resources in a nation. In the United States,...
Fisheries Economist Pros & Cons
Working for fisheries as an economist involves a great deal of travel. Learn about the day-to-day responsibilities of a job in marine...