Economics is the study of the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. In other words, it analyzes the nature of much human interaction: buying and selling. While many students never make it past Econ 101 in college, those who pursue careers in an economics-related field have a range of options. At their core, most economics jobs involve research, reporting and advising.
Economists in the broad sense are responsible for studying and analyzing the distribution of resources, goods and services. Based on their research, they produce data that guides them in advising businesses, governments and individuals. They can work in almost any industry -- from consulting firms and big businesses to government offices and think tanks. They specialize in various fields within economics, including econometrics, financial economics, international economics, industrial organization economics, labor economics, macroeconomics, microeconomics and public finance economics.
Actuaries are analysts responsible for calculating financial costs related to risk and uncertainty. Most work for insurance agencies, although some work in pension and retirement benefits, or in consulting. A typical actuary uses statistical data to calculate strategies to minimize a company's risk and maximize profitability. Any insurance policy you've had was developed by an actuary. Modern actuaries rely primarily on advanced statistical modeling software to create plans and rates.
Budget analysts work with businesses, governments or other organizations to help them develop short- and long-term budgets. They are often responsible for preparing annual and special budget reports and developing cost-benefit analyses. They typically aren't responsible for decision-making, but they play a key role in advising the top executives who are.
Financial analysts study trends in markets and investments for the purpose of advising businesses and individuals wanting to make informed investment decisions. They make investment recommendations based on current and historical data and economic trends. When studying companies and other investment opportunities, they look at financial statements, commodity prices, sales, costs, expenses and tax rates. Different types of financial analysts include portfolio managers, fund managers, ratings analysts and risk analysts.
Market Research Analysts
Market research analysts are either employed by or contracted with companies that want to successfully provide a good or service. Analysts' responsibilities are to gather and analyze data about consumers and competitors, study markets and forecast sales trends, measure the effectiveness of marketing programs and strategies and prepare reports. Companies rely on market research analysts to develop their marketing strategies.
Many professionals with a background in economics choose a career in academics. University professors are not only responsible for educating others about economics, but they conduct and publish original research. Some who work for prestigious institutions or publish some of the most advanced findings also serve in advisory roles for governments and other major organizations.
- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook; Economists
- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook; Actuaries
- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook; Budget Analysts
- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook; Financial Analysts
- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook; Market Research Analysts
- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook; Postsecondary Teachers
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