A degree in economics can take you a long way. Economics, simply put, is the study of wealth. It examines subjects like supply and demand, incentives, financial markets, job markets, actuarial valuations, and many other items related to money and how it transfers from person to person. Many of us, when we think of economics, we think of the Fed Chairman announcing national economic policy and letting us know if interest rates are going to rise. The truth is, economists work in a large variety of fields and perform a lot of different functions. As undergraduate degrees go, a bachelor degree in this particular field is extremely marketable.
What kinds of classes do you take in an economics degree?
Prepare for a lot of math. Economists often study trends, conduct analysis and try to predict future behavior should certain actions be taken. This requires students to develop an analytical mind. You'll learn general information about microeconomics (the study of small economic systems such as businesses or families) and macroeconomics (the study of large economic systems such as nations or the world market). You will also need to take several fairly advanced mathematics courses, such as calculus and statistics, and math will be a large part of many of your economics classes.
The idea of a lot of math can be daunting. A student who took advanced math like calculus, statistics, and trigonometry in high school will be well positions. Students who didn't get that far in math during their high school years, may need to take some prerequisite math courses before delving into the meat of the degree.
What can you do with the degree once you are done with school?
There are a lot of possibilities. Economy is everywhere. An undergraduate degree can help you with a career in banking, or in the financial industry. Many financial planners for businesses and other organizations have economics degrees. You can become an actuary – calculating the financial risk of a firm or organization based on certain factors. Actuaries quite often can be found in financial institutions and pension plans, calculating assumptions on items like investment rates of return and longevity of pension participants. While becoming an accountant usually requires a degree in accounting, many accounting departments or firms hire economists to help them study trends in their income and outflow.
There are many options for employment in the public sector. Understanding potential economic fluctuations in a city can help predict the growth of that city and provide local governments with an idea of what infrastructure needs to be in place to deal with that growth. Economists can also help local or state governments understand the economic factors that can be created to help facilitate economic growth in their area. Questions like: "How many schools will we need in our county in 10 years?" or "How do we attract first-time homebuyers to our city?" or "How do we best address our current housing shortage?" are all questions asked of economists.
Economics is a unique skillset. It gives you the tools you need to be successful in many different industries. Regardless of the job marked and the economy, your skills as an economist will always be in demand.
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