The Student’s Guide to Economics Degrees and Career Paths

Anyone who is analytical and likes to gather and interpret data might be a good fit in the economics field. Pursuing an economics degree positions graduates to work in a variety of different careers. Although math will be a strong focus when working to earn an economics degree, communication is also a vital skill. Explore the possibilities of an economics major to see if this is the right fit for you.

What Is Economics?

Economics is the study of how goods and services are produced, distributed, and consumed. Economics divides into macroeconomics, which studies total economy behaviors, and microeconomics, which studies individual and business behaviors. Economists study how different entities make choices about how money and other resources are allocated. Using the basic assumption that humans generally act rationally, economics studies human actions. Individuals, companies, governments, and nations can acquire resources in various ways, and economists study which methods work the best.

Micro vs. Macroeconomics

Microeconomics focuses on how individuals and companies spend money. By analyzing human behaviors, this type of economics can create predictions about how entities will respond to price changes. Microeconomics also focuses on what makes various goods and services valued, how consumers assess value, how purchasing decisions occur, and how entities trade with each other. Supply and demand, costs and efficiency of production, business organization, and how people manage risk are other topics included in microeconomics.

Macroeconomics focuses on the overall economy, either nationally or internationally. Aggregated economic data and variables provide information for analysis. Macroeconomics can study virtually any size geographic region, and models of economic cycles are important tools. Key macroeconomics topics include government fiscal policies, foreign trade, inflation levels, interest rates, unemployment rates, and business cycles.


Capitalism is a type of economic system that involves private individuals owing and controlling property as they desire. Supply and demand influences prices in markets, serving the best interests of the society as a whole. People living in a capitalist economy have motivation to work to earn a profit, resulting in economic prosperity. A capitalist economy also enables assets such as factories to be privately owned and controlled, and business owners purchase labor for wages. As such, capital gains accrue for the owners.

Helpful Skills

Someone pursuing an economics career needs to be detail-oriented and able to manipulate data and statistics to find relationships and trends. Exceptional math skills are a must, and professionals also need to be able to learn new software quickly. Understanding how factors relate to each other is important, and it’s also important to be able to learn quickly about new industries and products. Communication skills are crucial, especially when providing explanations either orally or in writing.


Earning a bachelor’s degree in economics is usually the first step when pursuing this career path. With this degree in hand, a graduate will be able to pursue positions such as a financial risk analyst, auditor, economic consultant, or financial manager. Pursuing an advanced degree in economics is another option. A master’s in economics positions a graduate as a strong candidate for many of the higher-paying positions in the industry. Postgraduate studies involve mathematics and statistical work, and students will also be expected to pursue independent research on social issues.

Career Paths for Economics Majors and Salary Ranges

Career paths for people with a four-year economics degree are numerous. Graduates might become actuaries, assisting clients with proposed business actions and potential risks. Actuaries make roughly $100,000 annually. Budget analysts assist companies with arranging and tracking money and finances. People in this career generally make about $75,000 annually. Financial analysts make around $85,000 annually, and these professionals assess investment performance to assist investors. Market research analysts make roughly $63,000 a year, and these professionals assist companies by performing market research for products and services.

Additional Resources