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How Do I Become an Economist?

By Jessica F. Black
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are several steps that you will need to take to become an economist, and the process is primarily based on education and experience. Most companies require an advanced degree, and you will need to excel in mathematics, computer courses, and various other math-based coursework that will build the skills you need to become an economist. Before seeking a university that has a suitable economics department, you should research the job descriptions and requirements of several positions. This will enable you to map out the education and experience needed for the type of position that you seek.

Once you have determined the particular field that you plan to enter, you will need to apply to a university that has a well developed economics department and offers a bachelor's of science (B.S.) degree in economics. This is an important step to become an economist, but may qualify you for entry-level positions. The first year of an undergraduate degree program usually involves enrolling in general coursework, which is generally required to take advanced courses in your field. These advanced classes may include principles of macro and microeconomics, mathematics for economists, statistics for economics, public finance, international economics, and business administration. Successful completion of all necessary course work will result in receiving a B.S. degree.

An internship in an economic-related field will also assist you to become an economist, and most employers are looking for candidates who have an extensive background in the field. Although a B.S. degree and experience will help you enter the field, most students continue their education to obtain a master's degree to increase their career options. Coursework to receive a master's degree in economics may include advanced economic statistics, macroeconomics monetary theory, econometrics, empirical microeconomics, and dynamic optimization. This program may take at least two years, and many students choose to work part-time in an economic department of a financial firm while completing all coursework.

In addition to education and experience, you should improve your computer skills, technical writing abilities, and analytical thought process in order to become an economist. Although some of your work will be performed alone, you may also need to able to work well on a team. Excellent communication skills are almost always required because you will need to speak with business professionals, colleagues, and clients. This is a competitive field, and in order to advance you will need to display an enhanced proficiency in data entry, statistics, and mathematics. It is a lucrative career and offers continuous advancement opportunities.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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