32 Jobs for Economics Majors at the Entry Level and Beyond
Jobs for economics majors are not just limited to those with "economist" in the title. Economics graduates can cast a much wider net in their job search. After all, those who complete economics programs can find work in a huge variety of industries, from banking and insurance to real estate and public service—and almost none of those jobs specifically ask for economists.
Some might say the best jobs for economics majors are those that take full advantage of their skill set. Economics majors are known for their analytical and critical-thinking skills. They're adept at manipulating data, recognizing linkages between trends, producers, and consumers, and understanding how daily transactions contribute to overall economic trends. Such skills are applicable to a wide range of jobs.
The type of job you find will depend somewhat on the kind of degree you get. Most entry-level jobs in economics require at least a bachelor's degree, but you can choose to get either a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.). A B.S. in economics focuses heavily on math and statistics, and it will prepare you for jobs that require advanced data analysis or modeling. A B.A. also has a math component, but it looks more at the behavioral aspect of economics and thus tends to incorporate more psychology or sociology in the mix.
And while a bachelor's degree can open a lot of doors, advancing to more senior positions might require a master's degree or even higher credentials. If you're thinking of going down that road, be sure to read our tips on how to decide if you need a graduate degree.
We've put together a list of both entry-level jobs and those that require something beyond a bachelor's degree, so check those out below. And if you're trying to decide if economics is right for you, you might find it helpful to read our section outlining some of the benefits of an economics education.
- 26 entry-level jobs for economics majors with a bachelor's degree
- 6 jobs that require additional training or significant experience
- 5 benefits of studying economics
- How to decide if you need a graduate degree
26 Entry-Level Jobs for Economics Majors With a Bachelor's Degree
Jobs for economics majors right out of college run the gamut from banking and finance to research and sales. Some of the best entry-level jobs for economics majors in this section come with high salaries and solid employment outlooks. Keep in mind that unless otherwise noted, the average salaries listed here are averages across the entire occupation and do not necessarily reflect what you would earn as a starting wage.
1. Personal financial advisor
Providing advice about investments, insurance, mortgages, taxes, and more can be a rewarding way to put your economics education to work. With training in financial planning, financial advisors work with clients to set financial goals and figure out how to achieve them. They educate clients about anything from budgets and savings plans to investment and tax issues. This career is expected to see much-faster-than-average job growth between 2014 and 2024.1 New hires typically undergo on-the-job training under the direction of senior advisors, and moving up in this field generally requires becoming a Certified Financial Planner.
- Average salary—$123,1002
An actuary uses numerical analysis to calculate and manage risk. Your job is to analyze the likelihood of future events and identify ways to minimize the risk of negative outcomes. A bachelor's degree will get you in the door; you will likely be partnered with more experienced actuaries who can guide your development. You will have to apply for membership in a professional actuarial society and pass a series of exams to be certified. You can start that process in your senior year of college; in fact, many employers expect students to have passed at least one of the qualifying exams before they graduate.
- Average salary—$114,1202
3. Healthcare analytics specialist
Many informatics companies need healthcare analytics specialists to study the performance patterns of different hospital departments and recommend ways to streamline and improve processes. These professionals analyze data from patient files, billing records, and hospital inventories to make projections and find inefficiencies. A bachelor's degree can get you an entry-level position, but a master's will help you advance. Once you have at least three years of experience, you can apply for certification through the American Health Information Management Association.
- Average salary—$109,370 (among all medical and health services managers)2
4. Financial analyst
Guiding companies' investment decisions is the job of financial analysts. They use their skills in quantitative analysis to assess financial projections and evaluate investment proposals. You have to be skilled at deriving meaning from economic and business trends to be successful in this field. Some positions require that you get a license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), but employers don't generally expect you to have that before you start.
- Average salary—$97,6402
5. Financial examiner
As a financial examiner, you can help keep the world's financial systems on track by making sure that banks, credit unions, brokerage firms, and other financial institutions comply with applicable laws and regulations. Part of the role involves ensuring that borrowers are treated fairly and that the financial institutions are prepared to handle any unexpected losses. A bachelor's degree in economics (that includes some accounting courses) is a good foundation for this career.
- Average salary—$88,9402
Do you have a love of number crunching? Statisticians gather and analyze data to detect trends and relationships. They design surveys, collect data, and communicate the results to policy makers and others. And they're in demand: This field is expected to grow by 34 percent between 2014 and 2024.1 You need to be well versed in calculus, probability, survey methodology, and statistical theory to make it in this job. Most positions require a master's degree, but some entry-level jobs are available to those with an undergraduate degree in economics.
- Average salary—$85,1602
7. Operations research analyst
Operations research analysts examine data to help organizations solve problems like how to use resources, manage the supply chain, and set prices. They use sophisticated statistical modeling software to assess the likely consequences of process or organizational changes. Their work influences company policy decisions. A bachelor's degree is enough for entry-level positions, but you will need an advanced degree to move up in this field.
- Average salary—$84,3402
8. Credit analyst
When a company or an individual needs a loan, it's up to credit analysts to assess the risk involved in lending the money. They analyze credit histories and financial statements to calculate the likelihood of a borrower being able to repay his or her debts. They also determine the appropriate terms for each loan. You need to be a whiz with spreadsheet and database programs and have top-notch math skills for this job. A bachelor's degree is the normal starting point, though some employers also require industry certification.
- Average salary—$81,1602
9. Supply chain analyst
Manufacturing firms, retail businesses, and transportation service providers rely on supply chain analysts (also known as logisticians) to make sure the process of getting products from warehouses to end users operates as efficiently as possible. These professionals collect data on costs and productivity to evaluate shipping processes and identify problems. You need to be good at strategic planning and resource allocation to succeed in this field.
- Average salary—$77,8102
10. Budget analyst
A common fixture in government departments, research firms, and higher education institutions, budget analysts help large organizations keep their financial house in order. They study the costs of policy or program decisions and recommend funding levels. They also analyze revenue and expenses in order to project future financial needs. You need solid communication skills in order to explain and defend your recommendations.
- Average salary—$77,1702
Handling the day-to-day financial transactions of companies is the job of accountants. They calculate payroll, file tax returns, and prepare year-end financial statements. Some companies prefer to hire candidates with a master's degree in accounting, but many entry-level positions are open to those with a bachelor's degree in economics. You might need to start the process of becoming a certified public accountant (CPA), which requires passing an exam. Internship experience is a big plus in this field.
- Average salary—$76,7302
The main role of an auditor is to review and verify the accuracy of an accountant's work. Auditors perform quarterly or annual reviews. They look for financial mismanagement or inaccurate reporting, and they identify ways to eliminate fraud. Professional certification can lead to better opportunities and is available to those who have a few years of experience in this field.
- Average salary—$76,7302
13. Mortgage loan associate
Some companies hire economics grads with bachelor's degrees to assist senior staff in managing mortgage loans. Typical tasks in this job include setting up new loans, reviewing rent rolls (i.e., documents that outline the total income coming from a rental property), and analyzing financial statements. Your job is to make sure clients comply with the terms of their loan agreement.
- Average salary—$76,260 (among all loan officers)2
14. Insurance underwriter
Insurance underwriters evaluate the risks involved in insuring a person or company. They analyze financial statements to understand the economic background of a client and determine appropriate insurance coverage amounts and premiums. You tread a fine line in this job: If premiums are too high, the insurance company might lose customers; if you take on too much risk, the insurance company might have to pay too many claims.
- Average salary—$75,4802
15. Environmental economist
Do you have a passion for protecting the natural world? You might want to become an environmental economist. These professionals collect and analyze data to study the environmental implications of government policies on issues like alternative fuel use, soil conservation, and climate change. Their work helps decision makers plan activities related to environmental protection. Many of these positions require advanced training, but some entry-level jobs in government agencies are available for candidates with a bachelor's degree.
- Average salary—$75,360 (among all environmental scientists and specialists)2
16. Contract specialist
Sometimes known as purchasing agents, contract specialists create, review, and monitor contractual agreements between their employer and their employer's suppliers. They analyze financial reports and negotiate the best possible terms for their company. Retail businesses, manufacturing companies, logistics firms, and defense contractors all use the services of contract specialists.
- Average salary—$68,3873
17. Market research analyst
As a market research analyst, your job is to survey a business segment to figure out what products will sell well, who will buy them, and how much companies can charge for them. You are responsible for conducting surveys and keeping abreast of industry trends. You also have to present your findings in a way that people can easily understand. In addition to having a firm understanding of marketing, you need to be detail-oriented and have good quantitative abilities for this work.
- Average salary—$67,1302
18. Compensation and benefits specialist
These human resources professionals conduct research on compensation statistics and perform market analysis to determine appropriate salary and benefits packages for different jobs. Part of the job involves assessing the financial impact of compensation plans and ensuring that those plans comply with regulations and labor laws. In larger companies, the positions might be split in two. Taking courses in business, finance, and accounting during your degree can be helpful.
- Average salary—$66,4902
19. Securities trader
You need to keep up-to-date with happenings in the financial markets to make it as a securities trader. These workers buy and sell stocks, derivatives, and commodities to make money for their companies' clients. This is a fast-paced, high-pressure career. Entry-level jobs can be had with a bachelor's degree, though an MBA could help you advance. Traders must have a license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which requires passing some exams; most firms will make qualifying for the license a condition for hiring you.
- Average salary—$62,3894
20. Investor relations associate
Investor relations associates communicate the value of their company's financial services to the public. They analyze market events and their impact on potential investors. You need strong public speaking skills to be able to pitch investment opportunities. You also need a solid grasp of the financial world in order to sell would-be investors on your firm's offerings. Unlike some finance jobs, this career generally comes with a fairly standard schedule: no all-nighters or weekend work.
- Average salary—$62,2824
21. Payroll analyst
Processing payroll reports, creating budget projections, and conducting salary surveys are all in a day's work for a payroll analyst. Their job is to maintain the company's payroll database and make sure everyone is being paid what they should be paid. They prepare statistical, financial, and operational reports, and they prepare materials for outside auditors. An economics degree will get you started in this field.
- Average salary—$58,5913
22. Pricing analyst
Have you ever wondered how stores decide what to charge for different items? Pricing analysts look at market data to determine an appropriate, competitive price for products and services. The idea is to find an optimum price that will boost sales and increase profits. They gather estimates for labor and materials, build pricing models, and evaluate consumer perception of different price points. Data analysis skills are key to success in this career.
- Average salary—$58,2975
23. Real estate analyst
As a real estate analyst, you evaluate real estate investment opportunities through financial modeling and market research. That involves looking at things like housing sales, new building construction, and demographics of different areas. You also perform due diligence research. Along with an in-depth understanding of real estate, you need the ability to assimilate information from a variety of sources to make it in this career. Pursuing a real estate broker's license can improve your job prospects.
- Average entry-level salary—$57,2614
24. Account manager
Account managers connect a company and its customers. Once a salesperson brings a new client on board, an account manager works with that client to achieve their goals, resolve their concerns, and maintain a positive relationship. The job also involves generating new business from existing clients. People skills are paramount in this career—after all, your main role is keeping clients happy.
- Average salary—$51,1814
25. Business journalist
If you have solid oral and written communication skills and enjoy explaining complex concepts in plain language, you may find success as a business journalist. Your job is to make the worlds of economics and commerce understandable to the average person. Having an economics degree means you can position yourself as a subject matter expert; as long as you can demonstrate your writing ability, many news organizations will value your input—even if you don't necessarily have much journalism training.
- Average salary—$49,770 (among all reporters and correspondents)2
26. National security program manager
The National Security Agency (NSA) has been known to hire graduates with bachelor's degrees in economics as entry-level program managers. Homeland security training can also be beneficial. In this role, you evaluate cost, schedule, and performance metrics to track the progress and success of agency programs. You also recommend changes and provide data to decision makers. Solid writing skills are essential—your reports could be read by members of Congress.
- Typical salary—$44,941 to $71,4676
6 Jobs for Economics Majors That Require Additional Training or Significant Experience
An undergraduate degree in economics can be a good starting point for careers in law, consulting, and government service, but the reality is that, in many cases, you will need to go beyond a bachelor's. Many of the highest-paying jobs for economics majors go to candidates who have advanced degrees in law, business, or finance, as well as several years of experience.
A bachelor's degree in economics and a passing grade on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) will qualify you to attend law school, but you'll still have to complete three years of study and pass the bar exam in your state to become a full-fledged lawyer. Legal work requires finding patterns and inconsistencies in large amounts of information, which comes naturally to those who make it through an economics program.
- Average salary—$139,8802
28. Financial manager
This is one of the classic jobs for business economics majors since it involves analyzing market trends to find ways to reduce a business's costs and increase its profits. Financial managers also devise strategies to help companies expand. An undergraduate degree is the bare minimum, but most employers look for candidates with a master's degree and five-plus years of experience in the financial field.
- Average salary—$139,7702
Economists monitor economic trends and develop forecasts on anything from interest rates to energy costs. They typically work for private corporations, think tanks, or government agencies. Becoming an actual economist normally requires at least a master's degree and more likely a Ph.D. You might choose to specialize in areas like international economics or labor economics.
- Average salary—$112,8602
30. Management consultant
Another economics-related career that is expected to experience much-faster-than-average job growth is management consultant.1 These professionals help companies find new and better ways of doing business. They recommend organizational changes and develop new policies and procedures to improve efficiency and increase profits. A graduate degree is not required, but most analysts come to the job with several years of business-related work experience under their belt.
- Average salary—$91,9102
31. Portfolio manager
A portfolio manager oversees securities trading and is ultimately responsible for deciding what assets should be bought or sold. This high-ranking professional must understand the implications of changing economic conditions and stay on top of current events that affect the financial markets. You will likely need an MBA and several years of work experience on top of your undergraduate degree; many portfolio managers also pass a series of exams to become Chartered Financial Analysts.
- Average salary—$89,9053
32. Foreign Service economic officer
Economic officers in the Foreign Service promote U.S. business interests abroad. They study and write reports on issues like market access and trade policies; experienced officers sometimes get involved in negotiations for economic treaties and agreements. Becoming a diplomat requires passing the Foreign Service Officer Test, writing a series of essays, completing a full-day oral assessment, meeting fitness and security standards, and passing a final suitability review process. It's an intensely competitive process; many candidates have advanced degrees and extensive work experience before applying.
- Typical starting salary—$48,837 to $58,674 for candidates with a bachelor's degree or higher7
5 Benefits of Studying Economics
Economics occupies a unique position at the intersection of arts, science, and math. At its heart, it's the study of behavior: how people choose to use limited resources to satisfy unlimited needs. It's equal parts creative and analytical, and it can be a very rewarding field. Here are five benefits that come from studying economics:
1. You learn how to become a more responsible consumer.
Economics students learn to think analytically about issues of economic efficiency, globalism, wealth and poverty, and social justice. By studying economics, you can become a critical consumer of statistically based arguments about public policy. Your training will help you sift through the rhetoric and really understand the basis for different viewpoints.
The skills you pick up in an economics program make it easier for you to solve problems and make data-driven decisions. You can assess the risks of an investment opportunity, the benefits and costs of different career choices, and the potential impacts of public policies relating to things like health care and taxation. All of these things will help you become a more responsible consumer.
2. You develop unique skills.
The analytical problem-solving skills that come from studying economics will help you stand out as a candidate in many fields. Knowing how to analyze data with an eye to predicting future economically oriented events differentiates you from many other liberal arts graduates and makes you more appealing to potential employers. The ability to use mathematical and statistical techniques to derive meaning from data is a highly valued skill in today's workplace.
3. Your skills will position you for many in-demand jobs.
Economics programs equip you with the skills that many companies need. Employers value workers with well-developed abilities in research, analysis, and data modeling. Here are just a few examples of economics-related occupations that are expected to see much-faster-than-average employment growth between 2014 and 2024:1
- Financial advisor
- Operations research analyst
- Market research analyst
4. You can work in a huge range of industries.
Examples of possible employers include investment banks, brokerage houses, insurance companies, manufacturing firms, real estate agencies, consulting firms, government departments, and non-profit organizations. And an education in economics can lead to some pretty powerful positions: Several high-ranking judges, business executives, and world leaders started out with economics degrees.
5. You qualify to make some seriously good money.
An economics degree can be an extremely sound investment. One study in the U.K. found that 10 years after graduation, the average salaries of economics graduates were higher than those of every other major except medicine. Economics grads were making more than those with engineering, law, and computer science degrees.8 And a separate study in the U.S. found that economics majors topped the list of the highest-earning graduates in all fields.9
How to Decide If You Need a Graduate Degree
It's no surprise that many of the top jobs for economics majors are reserved for those with advanced degrees. But investing more time and money in higher education may not necessarily get you where you want to go. Before you dash off your grad school applications, take some time to carefully consider your options.
1. Think about your career goals.
If you're reasonably certain of the kind of career you want, and your odds of succeeding in that career will be better with an advanced degree, then grad school might be a good option. For instance, if research is your passion and you dream of finding a position in government agencies or think tanks, you will definitely need to pursue graduate studies.
But if you're unsure exactly what you want to do, it might be better to hold off. The worst reason to go to grad school is because you just don't know what else to do. There are plenty of good jobs available to those with a bachelor's degree; it might not make sense to spend time and money on more schooling if you don't have an end goal in mind.
2. Decide what salary level is high enough.
It's true that, on average, those with master's degrees or higher make more than those with bachelor's degrees. The American Economic Association noted the median earnings of economists with different levels of education in 2010:10
- B.A.—$38,000 (women) / $42,000 (men)
- M.A.—$45,000 (women) / $38,000 (men)
- Ph.D.—$90,000 (women) / $100,500 (men)
According to those figures, a Ph.D. would more than double your salary as an economist. That makes it almost a no-brainer for anyone interested in research-intensive positions in academia or government.
But most economics grads don't end up as economists. They find jobs like the ones listed in this article, and they enjoy average salaries that are generally higher than the ones listed by the American Economic Association. In fact, economics majors consistently rank among the top earners in many fields.
The bottom line is that any economics degree will give you an excellent chance of finding a job with a decent income. You need to decide for yourself how much is enough when it comes to salary.
3. Consider the total cost of more schooling.
A master's degree in economics typically takes two additional years after earning your bachelor's degree; a Ph.D. takes longer than that. Do you have the resources to finance more time in school? Will you have to take on additional student loan debt?
And don't forget about the opportunity cost. Spending two years in a master's program means having two fewer years to earn an income and build your career. Economics majors are experts at calculating such costs; make sure you focus your analytical eyes on your own situation.
Go Forward Into Your Future
Jobs for economics majors are wide-ranging and offer a diverse array of benefits. Take the first step toward your future by exploring schools near you that offer convenient programs for all kinds of careers. Just enter your zip code into the search tool below to get started!
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, website last visited on June 20, 2017.
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on June 20, 2017.
3 Indeed, website last visited on June 20, 2017.
4 PayScale, website last visited on June 20, 2017.
5 Salary.com, website last visited on June 20, 2017.
6 Monster, website last visited on June 20, 2017.
7 United States Department of State, "2017 Foreign Service (FS) Salary Table," website last visited on June 20, 2017.
8 BBC News, "To earn more, study medicine or economics, says IFS," website last visited on June 20, 2017.
9 Slate, "Want to Be Stinking Rich? Major in Economics," website last visited on June 20, 2017.
10 American Economic Association, "Career earnings," website last visited on June 20, 2017.