Economics Degrees: Worth it or Useless for Getting a Job?

With an estimated 13% employment growth rate for economists in the next decade, an economics degree is worth it to many.

Entry-level jobs are available for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in economics. But, to thrive in the field, many people do also go on to pursue a Master’s degree or PhD in economics.

What Is an Economics Degree?

Economics is a discipline that explores how money and the global capitalist market affects and enhances human life.

While it’s a heavily mathematical and theoretical degree, at its heart it is the study of how to help people thrive. Economics can explain the reasons that drive human behavior, reactions, and decisions.

With an economics degree, students obtain top-tier statistical and mathematical skills, including the knowledge to apply economic models and principles to problems related to finance, assets, business, or public administration.

What Jobs can you get with an Economics Degree?

Studying the financial market and social policies are some of the major components of an economics degree. As a result, it paves the way for countless job opportunities. Here is a quick look at some of the most popular jobs with a degree in economics.

JobDescription of JobAverage Salary (US)
EconomistAs financial experts, economists study market activity. They prepare charts, tables, reports, and more.$78,759
Financial consultantResponsibilities include carrying out risk analyses, forecasting income and costs, assessing options for capital expansion, etc.$69,621
StatisticianCharged with applying statistical models and methods to real-world problems, statisticians assess, collect, and interpret key data.$75,429
Financial plannerTasked with assisting clients in creating personal budgets and establishing goals for controlling their expenses.$64,690
Investment analystResponsibilities include collecting information, performing research, and analyzing various assets.$66,727
Compliance officerA compliance manager or officer ensures that the business operates in an ethical and legal manner while achieving the company’s goals.$70,828

Pros and Cons of an Economics Degree

If you can’t figure out if an economics degree is the right fit for you, then take a look at its pros and cons below. It’s important to consider all the positives and negatives when seeking out proper career options.

1. Benefits of an Economics Degree

Here are the benefits of having a degree in economics.

  • You will develop logical and analytical thinking skills.
  • The degree combines mathematics and social theory in a very interesting way.
  • Optimistic job outlook. Many employers are looking to hire graduates from economics majors.
  • High pay. While an entry-level position might not pay as much as you’d like, career economists often end up in high-paying positions.

2. Negatives of an Economics Degree

Just like any major out there, economics has its downsides.

  • Math and statistics are the core of economic classes. If they are not your strong suit, then you probably won’t like it.
  • You may need an advanced degree such as a Masters of PhD to beat the competition.

What are the Requirements for Economics Degrees?

The minimum GPA requirement in overall economics courses is usually 3.3, while in upper-division economics, you will need at least a 3.5 GPA.

Of course, these requirements will vary depending on the university you select.

For example, students who enter Berkeley as freshmen need a minimum 3.0 GPA in the prerequisite courses. For a transfer student, a minimum 2.7 GPA is necessary. So, check the requirements in the college you want to apply to.

What Economics Majors are There?

Economic majors cover topics related to economic systems and theories. This includes mathematical methods and practical knowledge that can come in handy when analyzing resources, trades, and other factors of a business.

Here are some of the majors you can go for. 

MajorDescription / Explanation of the Major
Econometrics & Quantitative EconomicsThis major focuses more on the applied and analytical aspects of economics.
Applied EconomicsThe program is tailored towards applying analytical techniques and economic principles to study a peculiar industry, resource, or activity.
General EconomicsCovers a broad range of topics, whether that is supply and demand, competition, price control, international trade, etc.
Development Economics & International DevelopmentThis major is about studying the process by which economies develop. Among other topics, such as applying ideas about the development of distinct regions or countries.

What is the Average Salary for Economics Graduates?

According to the American Economic Association, the average wage for economists varies based on the major you work in.

For Applied Economics and Management, the starting salary is usually about $58,900, which can reach $140,000 in mid-career. With Econometrics, the average starting pay is $60,100, reaching $131,000 in mid-career.

Overall, in the salary race, economists generally earn more than most, but less than engineers and computer science majors. However, economics majors also have excellent employment prospects and earnings.

Skills Learned In An Economics Degree

1. Soft Skills

  • Problem-solving
  • Critical and logical thinking
  • Spoken and written communication
  • Polished presentation and research skills
  • Time management
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Teamwork

2. Hard Skills

  • Data analysis
  • Cultural & commercial awareness
  • Using literary and information-processing skills
  • Drawing economic inferences
  • Assimilating quantitative & qualitative data

Final Verdict: Are Economics Degree Worth It or Worthless?

Economics is a popular field of study for people who are interested in the practical application of mathematical and analytical thinking. It can be a challenging but worthwhile area of study if you want to work for big corporations, banks, or international companies. It pays well and will likely be an in-demand qualification for many decades to come.

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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