It's never too early to start thinking about your career goals! Below are several resources for career exploration, alumni mentorship, finding internships, and developing your resume, cover letter, and interviewing skills to help you prepare and begin networking with prospective employers.
Common Careers for Economics Majors
ACCOUNTANT (Salary Range: $38,940 - $106,880)
Accountants and auditors help to ensure that firms are run efficiently, public records kept accurately, and taxes paid properly and on time. They analyze and communicate financial information for various entities such as companies, individual clients, and Federal, State, and local governments. Beyond carrying out the fundamental tasks of the occupation—providing information to clients by preparing, analyzing, and verifying financial documents—many accountants also offer budget analysis, financial and investment planning, information technology consulting, and limited legal services.
ACTUARIES (Salary Range: $53,100 - $160,000)
Through their knowledge of statistics, finance, and business, actuaries assess the risk of events occurring and help create policies for businesses and clients that minimize the cost of that risk. For this reason, actuaries are essential to the insurance industry.
Actuaries analyze data to estimate the probability and likely cost to the company of an event such as death, sickness, injury, disability, or loss of property. Actuaries also address financial matters, such as how a company should invest resources to maximize return on investments, or how an individual should invest in order to attain a certain retirement income level. Using thei r expertise in evaluating various types of risk, actuaries help design insurance policies, pension plans, and other financial strategies in a manner which will help ensure that the plans are maintained on a sound financial basis.
BUDGET ANALYSTS (Salary Range: $44,860 - $101,660)
Budget analysts help organizations allocate their financial resources. They develop, analyze, and execute budgets, as well as estimate future financial needs for private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. In private sector firms, a budget analyst's main responsibility is to examine the budget and seek new ways to improve efficiency and increase profits. In nonprofit and governmental organizations, which usually are not concerned with profits, analysts try to find the most efficient way to distribute funds and other resources among various departments and programs.
COST ESTIMATORS (Salary Range: $34,100 - $95,620)
Accurately forecasting the cost, size, and duration of future projects is vital to the survival of any business. Cost estimators develop the cost information that business owners and managers need to make a bid for a contract or to decide on the profitability of a proposed new project or product. They also determine which endeavors are making a profit.
Regardless of the industry in which they work, estimators collect and analyze data on all of the factors that can affect costs, such as materials, labor, location, duration of the project, and special machinery requirements, including computer hardware and software. Job duties vary widely depending on the type and size of the project.
FINANCIAL ANALYSTS (Salary Range: $44,490 - $141,700)
Financial analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions. Financial analysts assess the performance of stocks, bonds, commodities, and other types of investments. Also called securities analysts and investment analysts, they work for banks, insurance companies, mutual and pension funds, securities firms, the business media, and other businesses, making investment decisions or recommendations. Financial analysts study company financial statements and analyze commodity prices, sales, costs, expenses, and tax rates to determine a company's value by projecting its future earnings. They often meet with company officials to gain a better insight into the firms’ prospects and management.
FINANCIAL MANAGERS (Salary Range: $56,120 - $166,400)
Almost every firm, government agency, and other type of organization employs one or more financial managers. Financial managers oversee the preparation of financial reports, direct investment activities, and implement cash management strategies. Managers also develop strategies and implement the long-term goals of their organization.
The duties of financial managers vary with their specific titles, which include controller, treasurer or finance officer, credit manager, cash manager, risk and insurance manager, and manager of international banking. Controllers direct the preparation of financial reports, such as income statements, balance sheets, and analyses of future earnings or expenses, that summarize and forecast the organization's financial position. Controllers also are in charge of preparing special reports required by regulatory authorities. Often, controllers oversee the accounting, audit, and budget departments. Treasurers and finance officers direct their organization's budgets to meet its financial goals. They oversee the investment of funds, manage associated risks, supervise cash management activities, execute capital-raising strategies to support the firm's expansion, and deal with mergers and acquisitions. Credit managers oversee the firm's issuance of credit, establishing credit-rating criteria, determining credit ceilings, and monitoring the collections of past-due accounts.
INSURANCE UNDERWRITERS (Salary Range: $36,700 - $102,540)
Insurance companies protect individuals and organizations from financial loss by assuming billions of dollars in risk each year—risks of car accident, property damage, illness, and other occurrences. Underwriters decide whether insurance is provided and, if so, under what terms. They identify and calculate the risk of loss from policyholders, establish who receives a policy, determine the appropriate premium, and write policies that cover this risk. An insurance company may lose business to competitors if risk underwriting is too conservative, or it may have to pay excessive claims if the underwriting actions are too liberal.
Using sophisticated computer software, underwriters analyze information in insurance applications to determine whether a risk is acceptable and will not result in a loss. Insurance applications often are supplemented with reports from loss-control representatives, medical reports, reports from data vendors, and actuarial studies. Underwriters then must decide whether to issue the policy and, if so, determine the appropriate premium. In making this determination, underwriters consider a wide variety of factors about the applicant. For example, an underwriter working in health insurance will consider age, family history, lifestyle, and current health, whereas an underwriter working for a property-casualty insurance company is concerned with the causes of loss to which property is exposed, such as hurricanes or earthquakes, and the safeguards taken by the applicant. Therefore, underwriters serve as the main link between the insurance carrier and the insurance agent.
LOAN OFFICERS (Salary Range: $30,930 - $112,370)
Many individuals take out loans to buy a house, car, or pay for a college education. Businesses use loans to start companies, purchase inventory, or invest in capital equipment. Loan officers facilitate this lending by finding potential clients and helping them to apply for loans. Loan officers gather information to determine the likelihood that individuals and businesses will repay the loan. Loan officers may also provide guidance to prospective borrowers who have problems qualifying for traditional loans. For example, loan officers might determine the most appropriate type of loan for a particular customer and explain specific requirements and restrictions associated with the loan.
Loan officers usually specialize in commercial, consumer, or mortgage loans. Commercial or business loans help companies pay for new equipment or expand operations. Consumer loans include home equity, automobile, and personal loans. Mortgage loans are loans made to purchase real estate or to refinance an existing mortgage.
PERSONAL FINANCIAL ADVISORS (Salary Range: $32,660 - $166,400)
Personal financial advisors assess the financial needs of individuals and assist them with investments, tax laws, and insurance decisions. Advisors help their clients identify and plan for short-term and long-term goals. Advisors help clients plan for retirement, education expenses, and general investment choices. Many also provide tax advice or sell insurance. Although most planners offer advice on a wide range of topics, some specialize in areas such as retirement and estate planning or risk management.
Personal financial advisors usually work with many clients and often must find their own customers. Many personal financial advisors spend a great deal of their time marketing their services. Many advisors meet potential clients by giving seminars or through business and social networking. Finding clients and building a customer base is one of the most important aspects of becoming a successful financial advisor.
PURCHASING MANAGERS (Salary Range: $55,040 - $149,920)
Purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents buy a vast array of farm products, durable and nondurable goods, and services for companies and institutions. They attempt to get the best deal for their company—the highest quality goods and services at the lowest possible cost. They accomplish this by studying sales records and inventory levels of current stock, identifying foreign and domestic suppliers, and keeping abreast of changes affecting both the supply of, and demand for, needed products and materials. Purchasing professionals consider price, quality, availability, reliability, and technical support when choosing suppliers and merchandise. To be effective, purchasing professionals must have a working technical knowledge of the goods or services to be purchased.
MATHEMATICIANS (Salary Range: $52,850 - $153,620)
Mathematics is one of the oldest and most fundamental sciences. Mathematicians use mathematical theory, computational techniques, algorithms, and the latest computer technology to solve economic, scientific, engineering, and business problems. The work of mathematicians falls into two broad classes: theoretical (pure) mathematics and applied mathematics. These classes, however, are not sharply defined and often overlap.
OPERATIONS RESEARCH ANALYSTS (Salary Range: $39,920 - $122,750)
Operations research analysts formulate and apply mathematical modeling methods to develop and interpret information that assists management with policy formulation and other managerial functions. Using analytical techniques, operations research analysts help managers to make better decisions and solve problems. The procedures of operations research were first formalized by the military. They have been used in wartime to effectively deploy radar, search for enemy submarines, and get supplies to where they are most needed. In peacetime and in private enterprises, operations research is used in planning business ventures and analyzing options by using statistical analysis, data mining, simulation, computer modeling, linear programming, and other mathematical techniques.
STATISTICIANS (Salary Range: $39,090 - $119,100)
Statistics is the scientific application of mathematical principles to the collection, analysis, and presentation of numerical data. Statisticians apply their mathematical and statistical knowledge to the design of surveys and experiments; the collection, processing, and analysis of data; and the interpretation of experiments and survey results. Opinion polls, statements about the accuracy of scales and other measuring devices, and information about average earnings in an occupation are all usually the work of statisticians.
Statisticians may apply their knowledge of statistical methods to a variety of subject areas, such as biology, economics, engineering, medicine, public health, psychology, marketing, education, and sports. Many economic, social, political, and military decisions cannot be made without statistical techniques, such as the design of experiments to gain Federal approval of a newly manufactured drug. Statistics might be needed to show whether the seemingly good results of a drug were likely because of the drug rather than just the effect of random variation in patient outcomes.
MANAGEMENT ANALYSTS (Salary Range: $43,900 - $138,790)
As business becomes more complex, firms are continually faced with new challenges. They increasingly rely on management analysts to help them remain competitive amidst these changes. Management analysts, often referred to as management consultants in private industry, analyze and propose ways to improve an organization's structure, efficiency, or profits.
Management analysts might be single practitioners or part of large international organizations employing thousands of other consultants. Some analysts and consultants specialize in a specific industry, such as healthcare or telecommunications, while others specialize by type of business function, such as human resources, marketing, logistics, or information systems. In government, management analysts tend to specialize by type of agency. The work of management analysts and consultants varies with each client or employer and from project to project. Some projects require a team of consultants, each specializing in one area. In other projects, consultants work independently with the organization's managers. In all cases, analysts and consultants collect, review, and analyze information in order to make recommendations to managers.
MARKET/SURVEY RESEARCHERS (Salary Range: $33,350 - $111,440)
Market and survey researchers gather information about what people think. Market research analysts help companies understand what types of products people want, determine who will buy them and at what price. Gathering statistical data on competitors and examining prices, sales, and methods of marketing and distribution, they analyze data on past sales to predict future sales.
Market research analysts devise methods and procedures for obtaining the data they need by designing surveys to assess consumer preferences. While a majority of surveys are conducted through the Internet and telephone, other methods may include focus group discussions, mail responses, or setting up booths in public places, such as shopping malls, for example. Trained interviewers usually conduct the surveys under a market research analyst's direction.
SOCIOLOGISTS/POLITICAL SCIENTISTS (Salary Range: $44,000 - $155,490)
Sociologists and political scientists study all aspects of human society and political systems—from social behavior and the origin of social groups to the origin, development, and operation of political systems. Their research provides insights into different ways individuals, groups, and governments make decisions, exercise power, and respond to change. Through their studies and analyses, sociologists and political scientists suggest solutions to social, business, personal, and governmental problems. In fact, many work as public policy analysts for government or private organizations.