Economics is a complicated area of study, and its mix of intricate subjects like statistics and political analysis can sometimes make daunted pupils classify it as 'boring'.
The jobs you can get with an economics degree are anything but snooze-worthy, however. People who can tackle complex theories, calculations and projections are eligible for all kinds of careers, including valuable posts in government.
While some positions require further study or certification, many job options exist at an entry level with paths to promotion and some lucrative salaries. We've included a few straightforward suggestions for making the most of your schooling, but you may be surprised at some of the other careers open to you.
Read on to discover 10 interesting careers you can pursue with a BA in economics.
1. Environmental Economist
Average salary: $93,070 / £52,500
Are you concerned about industrial pollution, plastic in the ocean and excessive deforestation? Do you wish you could effect policy changes to address those concerns? As an economist, you can do just that – especially as most environmental economists work for the government.
Environmental economists collect research, analyse historical data and use statistical software and complex modelling programs to evaluate the economic impact of environmental changes. You could also perform cost-benefit analyses of green technologies to help influence implementation, as well as propose economic incentives and trade policies that encourage business practices favouring improvements to air quality, global temperature, plant life and more.
2. Personal Financial Adviser
Average salary: $88,890 / £57,500
After investing time, effort and money into your economics degree, it's not a bad idea to consider a career path that has room for advancement as well as projected job growth in the coming years. This is also a great job for those who want to combine their people skills with their recently acquired knowledge in business, banking and finance.
Personal financial advisers assist individual clients with budgeting, taxes, mortgages, insurance, investments and retirement goals. There are entry-level positions to get you started, while extra training and certification in financial planning could get you up to a six-figure salary.
Average salary: $70,500 / £62,500
The beauty of a career as an accountant is the variety of jobs available, as every kind of company – as well as individuals of a wide range of income levels – requires assistance with financial matters. Depending on personal preference, you can choose anything from a straightforward role in a private tax practice to a high-pressure job for a large corporation, dealing with complex budgets and international finance laws.
Accountant positions are perfect for people who love detailed work, number-crunching and financial analysis and forecasts.
Looking for an added thrill? Consider a forensic accountant position, assisting law enforcement agencies on tracking money for embezzlement, corruption and other criminal cases.
4. Market Research Analyst
Average salary: $63,120 / £41,000
Rapidly-evolving technology has made a career in marketing more exciting and challenging than ever, and your economics degree can help you land a job as a market research analyst. This is another career that has good job growth, as companies are increasingly looking for solid data to influence their business decisions.
You'll be evaluating economic and industry trends, as well as gathering surveys and statistics to best advise companies on what products will sell well, to which group of consumers and at what cost. Coursework in psychology and skill with social media analytics can give you an advantage over other job candidates.
5. Business Journalist
Average salary: $43,490 / £32,000
If you love the thought of using all your recently acquired knowledge to inform and educate others, consider a career as a business journalist. Your economics degree allows you to classify yourself as an expert, but success as a freelancer, columnist or TV correspondent lies in your ability to communicate complex business and finance topics to the average Joe.
One of the ways to set yourself apart from other candidates and land an awesome graduate job is to create a personal brand. That will be especially helpful for getting a gig as a business journalist, as online publications especially love hiring someone who already has a strong social media presence and following.
Average salary: $102,880 / £50,000
A job as an actuary is all about assessing risk, assigning a financial cost to potential events and helping organisations plan for and hopefully mitigate negative outcomes. While this is a role that is vital to the insurance and healthcare industries, you can also find careers in government, the stock market and banking.
If you find statistical analysis and predictive problem-solving addictive, and you don't mind potential morbid aspects of the job, working as an actuary could be a perfect career path after earning your economics degree. Apprenticeship and certification can lead to jobs with a substantial salary, particularly in the US.
7. Financial Analyst
Average salary: $85,660 / £51,000
As you consider the many jobs you can get with an economics degree, you may want something that offers a lot of day-to-day variety.
The basic role of a financial analyst is to offer clients advice on their investments. You'll need to research historical financial data, keep up with constantly shifting economic and business trends, and visit companies in person to fully assess their prospects.
Some analysts specialise in certain industries or regions, which offers opportunities to travel to study an area's culture and political environment and its effect on investments. An MFA certification will help you advance in your career.
Average salary: $64,120 / £74,500
If you're looking for a job with constant excitement that requires quick thinking, diligent monitoring of financial markets and a lot of responsibility, a stockbroker gig may be for you.
You'll seek out clients and manage their investments. You'll also buy and sell stocks, bonds and commodities like oil and gold.
Your BA in economics can get you in the door for on-the-job training, but many brokers go on to an MBA programme to progress in their career. In the UK, you'll also need to be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and, in the US, with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
9. Academic Economist
Average salary: $104,340 / £62,500
After earning a BA in economics, taking on the role of economist may seem like the first step in your new career. If you want a career in research and teaching, however, you'll need to attain a master's degree or a PhD.
As an academic economist, you'll have the freedom to explore the subjects and topics of interest to you, seek publication of your analysis and pass your knowledge on to future economists. Communication skills are essential for effectiveness as an instructor as well as any fundraising efforts required to support your research.
10. Foreign Service Economic Officer
Average salary: $86, 365 / £35,000
While you may have learned a lot about other countries while earning your economics degree, this diplomatic position allows you to gather more knowledge first-hand. Economic officers may represent their own country at a foreign post or be stationed at home with frequent travel abroad as an official negotiator.
As a diplomatic officer in economics, you'll study financial and political trends and develop contacts in the host country's business community. Your work helps facilitate your home country's commercial interests and can influence trade policy and mutually beneficial economic treaties. Advanced degrees will help you achieve a senior-level position.
As you can see, there's a wealth of diverse career options open to you as an economics graduate. Whether you're an introvert who loves numbers, a thrillseeker who loves a high-pressure environment or a people-person who hopes to travel, there's a lot for you to consider.
What job are you considering with your new degree? Let us know in the comments!
Salary information is based on data compiled and published by various sources, including the National Careers Service, the Bureau of Labour Statistics and the University of Illinois.