What can you do with an economics degree? This is a question many prospective college students ask when considering this popular major. While there may be many potential answers to this question, some of the most lucrative ones are highlighted below. If you want to study economics and earn a handsome salary upon graduation, these are the career paths you should consider.
Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agent
Salary Potential: $208,000
Median Annual Wage: $64,120
What can you do with an economics degree? For one, you could pursue a career as a securities, commodities, or financial services sales agent. These financial specialists act as connections between buyers and sellers in the financial marketplace. There are different types of securities, commodities, and financial agents, including brokers, investment bankers, and floor brokers, for instance. These different types of agents may have varying duties such as selling stocks and bonds, providing financial advice and consulting to individuals and companies, and monitoring the growth of investments, for instance.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that jobs for these financial professionals are growing steadily at a similar rate as the average occupation. Because these jobs are so lucrative, though, the competition for available positions is often a challenge. Applicants can gain an advantage by earning a professional credential such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification or even a master’s degree.
Careers as securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents can be very lucrative. In 2018, the top 10% of earners in this field made over $200,000, according to the BLS. Pay can vary significantly, though, depending on the agent’s employer, experience in the field, and track record of success. The median annual wage for these workers in 2018 was just $64,180.
A four-year degree is necessary to gain employment as a securities, commodities, or financial services sales agent. Though no specific type of bachelor’s degree is required, many employers prefer an undergraduate background in economics or a related field such as finance or accounting, for instance. To advance in the field, individuals will need an MBA.
To satisfy the academic requirements for a career in financial sales, one might consider Colorado State University-Fort Collin’s online bachelor’s in economics program. Offered by the university’s College of Liberal Arts, the 120-credit hour BA offering features core courses such as History of Economic Institutions and Thought, Introduction to Econometrics, and Intermediate Macroeconomics, for instance.
For students who prefer an on-campus option, a good choice is the University of Minnesota- Duluth’s Bachelor of Arts in Economics. The elective-rich program is offered through the university’s Labovitz School of Business and Economics and features upper-division courses such as Global Economic Issues, Applied Statistics for Business and Economics, and Econometrics.
Personal Financial Advisor
Salary Potential: $208,000
Median Annual Wage: $88,890
Another great economics degree job is that of a personal financial advisor. As the name implies, these financial professionals provide expert financial advice to individuals who are making major financial decisions. Some of these decisions may involve retirement savings, college funds, stocks and bonds, and other types of investments. Personal financial advisors may also provide consults for preparing taxes, purchasing insurance, and taking on a mortgage, for example.
The employment of personal financial advisors is on the rise and growing faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This growth can be largely attributed to the aging population, especially baby boomers who are reaching retirement age and require expert financial advice on planning for their golden years.
Although top earners in the field of personal financial consulting can expect to earn over $200,000 per year, the BLS reports that the median annual wage for these types of financial specialists was less than $90,000 in 2018.
A bachelor’s in economics or a closely related field is sufficient for employment as a personal financial advisor, though graduates of a master’s program may have better job prospects.
Specialized degrees in financial planning have become increasingly popular in recent years. For example, George Fox University offers a BS in Financial Planning that prepares graduates to sit for the Certified Financial Planner examination. The program’s financial planning core features classes such as Estate Planning, Insurance Planning and Risk Management, and Income Tax Planning, for instance.
Students interested in an online financial planning degree program may consider Southern New Hampshire University’s online BS in Finance with an emphasis in Financial Planning. Students enrolled in this program should be prepared to take courses such as Estate Planning and Taxation, Financial Plan Development, and Financial Accounting.
Salary Potential: $208,000
Median Annual Wage: $127,990
Still wondering what can you do with an economics degree? Another career path that leads to high-value paychecks for economics majors is that of a financial manager. Financial managers keep track of an organization’s revenue, expenses, and investments. They also examine the “big picture” of a corporation’s finances in order to help businesses achieve long-term financial goals.
As with many occupations in economics and finances, there are several different types of financial managers. Some of these include insurance managers, risk managers, credit managers, and controllers, for example.
In addition to tasks directly related to economics and financial matters, financial managers will also be responsible for supervisory duties. Students interested in pursuing such a role would benefit from classes or professional development in leadership and management.
Jobs for financial managers are growing much faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In fact, they represent some of the most in-demand positions in our ranking. Moreover, these jobs are very well-paid. While the median annual wage for financial managers in 2018 was $127,990, top earners in the field made over $200,000 per year.
Financial managers typically hold a bachelor’s degree in finance, economics, business administration, or a related field. Some have degrees specific to the field of financial management. Employers usually require applicants to have five or more years of experience in addition to an academic credential in order to take on this advanced role.
The University of Maryland-Baltimore County offers a Bachelor of Science in Financial Economics that features preparatory courses for jobs in financial management. Featured course titles include Managerial Economics, The Economics of Financial Analysis, Portfolio Analysis and Management, and Industrial Organization.
Students who desire a more targeted degree may consider National University’s BS in Financial Management. This degree program can be completed online or on-campus and includes courses like Financial Planning, Finance and Banking, and International Financial Management.
Salary Potential: $167,420
Median Annual Wage: $85,660
Sometimes referred to as securities analysts or investment analysts, financial analysts are responsible for overseeing a corporation or organization’s investments. Some of their specific duties include researching investment opportunities, evaluating a company’s current investment portfolio, and conducting economic research to identify trends in the marketplace.
Financial analysts may specialize in a specific type of analysis. There are portfolio managers, ratings analysts, fund managers, and risk analysts, for instance.
Though the demand for financial analysts is growing at a steady rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), competition for these positions is intense. The high earning potential associated with jobs in financial analysis attracts many more applicants than there are positions to fill. Contenders can set themselves apart by earning professional credentials and certifications or even a graduate degree in finance, economics, or a related field. Some employers prefer applicants with a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, for example.
Official employment requirements for jobs in financial analysis usually include a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. One top program prospective financial analysts can consider is California State University- Northridge’s Bachelor of Science in Finance option with an emphasis in Financial Analysis. Offered through the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics, the program features financial analysis courses such as Corporate Finance, Price Theory and Applications, and Advanced Financial Accounting.
Louisiana State University- Shreveport offers a similar program that can be completed online. Core courses required for the degree include Advanced Business Finance, Investment, and International Finance.
Operations Research Analyst
Salary Potential: $136,250
Median Annual Wage: $83,390
One of the fastest-growing careers in our ranking, “operations research analyst” is a solid answer to the question: “what can you do with an economics degree?”. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that positions for operations research analysts will have experienced a 26% growth over a ten-year period by 2028. This is much faster than the average projected growth for occupations in the United States. This increased demand can be attributed in large part to technological advancements that allow businesses to interpret data more accurately and use the findings to make better business and financial decisions.
Duties for operations research analysts may vary depending on the industry they work in as well as their specific employers. Still, common tasks involve identifying corporate problems and issues, using statistical analysis to identify potential solutions, and providing expert consultation to managers and executives.
A bachelor’s degree is required for many positions in operations research analysis, though some employers prefer to hire applicants with a more advanced degree. Columbia University in the City of New York offers a highly targeted Bachelor of Science in Operations Research (BSOR) program for students interested in becoming an operations research analyst. Coursework required for the program includes classes such as Corporate Finance for Engineers, Computation Discrete Optimization, Operations Consulting, and Statistics and Data Analysis, for instance.
Southern New Hampshire University offers a comparable online option. Its online BS in Operations Management features concentrations in Project Management and Logistics & Transportation. Sample course titles include Management Science Through Spreadsheets, Trends in Operations Management, and Continuous Improvement Tools and Techniques.
Market Research Analyst
Salary Potential: $121,080
Median Annual Wage: $63,120
Another potentially lucrative career for economics majors is that of a market research analyst. These economics experts study the market to identify trends and make predictions. They’re particularly valuable to companies launching new product lines or offering new services to consumers.
In the age of big data, the demand for market research analysts is growing at a rapid pace. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 20% surge in employment opportunities for these professionals between 2018 and 2028.
It is possible to gain entry into the field of market analysis with just a bachelor’s degree in marketing, economics, or a related field, but some employers prefer a master’s credential. Moreover, the competition for available positions is still steep, despite the increase in job prospects. Aside from pursuing a graduate degree, analysts can make themselves more attractive to potential employers by earning the Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) from the Marketing Research Association.
Colorado State University Global offers students a convenient pathway to a career as a market research analyst through its online bachelor’s degree in marketing. This comprehensive 120-credit hour program features course titles such as Consumer Behavior, International and Multicultural Marketing, Market Research, and Product and Brand Management.
For students who desire an advanced degree in the field, Texas State University offers an MS in Marketing Research and Analysis. Offered through its McCoy College of Business Administration, the program features upper-level marketing and economics courses such as Strategic Marketing Analysis and Planning, Accounting Analysis for Managerial Decision Making, and Marketing Research Methods, for example.
Salary Potential: $186,110
Median Annual Wage: $102,880
“What can I do with an economics degree,” you might ask? For one thing, you can specialize in risk-taking—at least from a financial perspective. Actuaries are financial and economic specialists that analyze the potential risk that a specific event may occur—such as a natural disaster or illness, for example—and help organizations and businesses plan for and minimize the cost of said risk. A large number of actuaries are employed by insurance companies.
There are different types of actuaries such as life insurance actuaries, enterprise risk actuaries, property and casualty insurance actuaries, and health insurance actuaries, for instance.
Actuarial science is growing, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment opportunities will increase by 20% between 2018 and 2028. Still, it remains a small field, and the pursuit of jobs will be competitive.
A bachelor’s degree in a field such as mathematics, statistics, or economics is usually required for entry-level jobs in actuarial science. Some employers may also require professional certifications such as those offered by the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or the Society of Actuaries (SOA).
Arizona State University currently offers both a bachelor’s and a master’s in Actuarial Science from its School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. In 2018, the school was recognized for its exemplary career preparation for actuaries by the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS).
Salary Potential: $152,760
Median Annual Wage: $83,610
Also commonly referred to as management consultants, management analysts advise business managers on strategies to enhance profit by reducing costs and increasing revenue for a company. In order to provide the best consult, these financial specialists must carefully review a corporation’s financial documents and accounts. They may also observe the production or manufacturing process to look for ways to cut expenses. Many management analysts specialize in a particular industry or type of management.
Jobs for management analysts are growing faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As companies continue to look for ways to be more profitable, employment opportunities in management consulting are projected to grow at a rapid rate. Currently, there is a disproportionately high demand for management analysts in the fields of healthcare and information technology.
A bachelor’s degree in economics or a related field such as finance or accounting is necessary in order to enter the field of management analysis. Some employers may prefer additional credentials such as an MBA, for instance, or professional certification as a Certified Management Consultant (CMC).
For those interested in pursuing a career in management analysis or consultancy, West Texas A&M University offers a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Economics and Finance from its renowned Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business. This AACSB-accredited program features course titles such as Current Issues in Management Communication, Economics of Healthcare, and Conflict Resolution and Negotiation, for instance.
Eastern New Mexico University offers a similar program that can be completed online. The university’s BBA in Applied Economics and Finance prepares students for work in economic consulting immediately after graduation. Scholarships and financial assistance are available for eligible students.
Frequently-Asked Questions About Careers for Degrees in Economics
Many students who ponder the question “what can you do with an economics degree?” end up having a lot more questions as well. Below are some of the inquiries we regularly receive regarding careers for economics majors.
Q: Are there plenty of job opportunities for graduates with an economics degree?
A: Yes. Many of the jobs suited for economics degree holders are currently in demand. Competition for the most lucrative jobs in the field will be stiff, however. You can set yourself apart from the competition by earning an advanced degree or a professional certification in your field.
Q: What schools offer degrees in economics?
A: Economics is a very popular undergraduate major. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that over 500 colleges and universities in the United States offer economics degrees at the bachelor’s level.
Q: Can I complete my economics degree online?
A: Yes. Bachelor’s in economics online programs are becoming increasingly popular. Several top online programs in economics are mentioned in this article.
Q: Do I need a master’s in economics to secure a high-paying job in the field?
A: Not necessarily. The lucrative economics positions we’ve highlighted require only a bachelor’s degree in economics. However, you may gain a competitive advantage over other job applicants with an advanced degree.
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