How Do I Start a Career in Applied Economics?

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  • Written By: Bobby R. Goldsmith
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 07 August 2019
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To get started in applied economics, you must plan your educational path before you begin. You will need at least a bachelor's degree in economics, business administration, or finance, though for certain positions you may need a master's degree or a PhD in one of those disciplines. Generally, a bachelor's degree will allow you to obtain an entry level position in some aspect of applied economics. During your bachelor's degree program, you should take several courses outside of economics or finance, including math, sociology, and possibly psychology. Near the end of your undergraduate education, you may want to obtain an internship in order to acquire hands-on experience to improve your prospects for permanent employment after you complete your degree program.

You have two available options when setting up your academic plan. You can apply directly to a four-year college or university, or you can complete the first two years of your bachelor's degree program at a community college. As the first two years of any bachelor's degree program usually involve the completion of general education courses along with lower division courses in your chosen major, you can complete these courses for less money if you take them at a community college. A community college is also less selective and will allow you to take the introductory courses in applied economics with less risk than a four-year institution.


If you choose to take the community college path, consult the school's guidance counselor to ensure that you take all of the necessary courses to transfer to the four-year institution to which you plan to apply. You should also take several courses outside of the applied economics discipline. These courses will vary but generally include statistics, an introduction to sociology and psychology, and a survey course in political theory or business management, depending upon the type of job you want to seek.

When you transfer to a four-year college or university or when you begin the upper division portion of your bachelor's degree program, select the economics courses that will best prepare you for the area in which you want to work. For example, if you want to be an economics scholar and work for a think tank, focus on courses that cover macroeconomics, international trade, or political economic structures. If you plan to work as a market consultant or an analyst for an investment firm, your applied economics coursework should focus more on accounting and business administration classes.



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