Economists: What They Do, How to Become One, and Their Impact on Society


Economists play a vital role in understanding the complex relationship between a society’s resources and its production. This article delves into the responsibilities of economists, the impact of their research, and the qualifications required for a career in this field. Discover how economists influence policies and shape economic strategies, along with key takeaways and valuable insights.

What is an economist?

An economist is a professional who specializes in studying the intricate connection between a society’s resources and its production or output. These experts conduct research that spans from analyzing small, local communities to entire nations and the global economy.

The role of economists

Economists play a pivotal role in understanding, analyzing, and predicting economic trends. They utilize various indicators to assess a society’s resources and production capabilities. These indicators allow economists to make informed predictions about future economic developments.

Impact on policies

The insights and research findings provided by economists have a far-reaching impact on the formulation of policies. These policies encompass a wide range of areas, including setting interest rates, creating tax laws, designing employment programs, negotiating international trade agreements, and shaping corporate strategies.

Career as an economist

A career as an economist requires two primary qualifications: advanced education and specialization in a particular area of research. The educational background typically involves earning a Ph.D. or a master’s degree, with a master’s degree being the usual starting point for entry-level positions.

Diverse duties

The duties of an economist are incredibly varied and encompass a broad spectrum of responsibilities. These include researching economic issues, conducting surveys, collecting data, analyzing data using mathematical models and statistical techniques, presenting research results in reports and visual formats, interpreting and forecasting market trends, advising businesses, governments, and individuals on economic matters, recommending solutions to economic challenges, and contributing to academic journals and other media through articles.

Economists influence strategic economic plans

The role of an economist extends to analyzing a wide array of economic data, including vital indicators such as gross domestic product and consumer confidence surveys. Economists delve into researching the distribution, accessibility, and reach of goods and services, enabling them to identify potential trends and make economic forecasts.

Customized insights

Economists are often commissioned to provide expert assessments for specific segments or topics where their expertise is needed. This can be vital for budgeting and planning purposes, where an economist’s insights form the foundation for a strategic action plan. For example, shifts in spending trends within a particular industry might prompt investors and companies to seek input from economists to understand the future direction of the market.

Moreover, economists’ insights can uncover the underlying causes that drive market cycles. They can also assist in forecasting job market growth as various segments of the economy expand.

Driving economic understanding

Economists may bring to light factors and elements that offer a fresh perspective on what influences economic trends. Their assessments often encompass extensive periods of time and leverage large datasets. Their economic theories can provide valuable guidance to businesses, enabling them to adjust their strategies. Companies may use these insights to determine whether to pursue the development of particular products or opt for alternative approaches.

Weigh the risks and benefits

Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider when pursuing a career in economics.

  • Potential for high earning potential
  • Opportunity to influence policies and strategies
  • Varied and intellectually stimulating work
  • Extensive education and training requirements
  • Challenging job market competition
  • Complex and ever-evolving economic landscape

Frequently asked questions

What education is required to become an economist?

To become an economist, you typically need an advanced degree, such as a master’s or Ph.D., in economics or a related field.

What industries do economists work in?

Economists can be employed in various sectors, including government agencies, academia, corporations, and economic think tanks.

What is the median salary for economists?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for economists in 2021 was $105,630 per year or $50.79 per hour.

How do economists influence policy decisions?

Economists provide valuable insights and data-driven recommendations that policymakers use to shape economic policies, tax laws, and corporate strategies.

What skills are essential for a successful career in economics?

Successful economists possess a range of skills, including strong analytical and problem-solving abilities, proficiency in data analysis, mathematical modeling, and statistical techniques. Effective communication skills are also crucial for conveying complex economic concepts to various stakeholders.

Can economists specialize in a specific field within economics?

Yes, economists often specialize in various subfields, such as microeconomics, macroeconomics, labor economics, environmental economics, or financial economics. Specialization allows them to focus their research and expertise on specific areas of interest.

What are the employment prospects for economists?

The employment prospects for economists can vary depending on factors like economic conditions and government funding. However, economists are in demand in government agencies, research institutions, academia, and the private sector. Job opportunities often arise in roles related to data analysis, policy advising, and economic research.

How do economists contribute to addressing economic challenges?

Economists play a critical role in addressing economic challenges by researching and analyzing data to provide insights and recommendations. They contribute to solving economic issues by proposing policies that can stimulate economic growth, reduce unemployment, or address inflation, among other concerns.

Are there any ethical considerations for economists?

Yes, economists must consider ethical implications in their work. They should maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, especially when providing advice to governments, businesses, or organizations. Ethical considerations are essential to maintaining the integrity of economic research and policy-making.

Key takeaways

  • Economists play a crucial role in understanding the relationship between resources and production in society.
  • Careers in economics demand advanced degrees and specialization in specific research areas.
  • The insights of economists significantly impact policy decisions, economic strategies, and business decisions.
  • Economists analyze economic data and trends to forecast market behavior and inform strategic planning.
  • A career in economics offers both opportunities and challenges, including a potentially high income and a competitive job market.
View article sources
  1. What Do Economists Do? – University at Buffalo
  2. Types of Economists You Can Be – American University
  3. Economists : Occupational Outlook Handbook – Bureau of Labor Statistics
  4. Economists – Bureau of Labor Statistics
  5. Exploring the life and impact of John Maynard Keynes – SuperMoney