Choosing an Economics Degree Career Path

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A Master of Business Administration degree can be the foundation for a successful career. While an undergraduate degree is typically a requirement for entry-level economics positions, such as actuaries and revenue agents, an advanced degree in business, particularly one with a finance concentration, can help graduates stand out when pursuing management positions.

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is designed to prepare graduates for top-level jobs in the world economy. Here are five potential careers for MBA graduates.

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts work in both the public and private sectors, helping companies create budget management systems. These professionals prepare budget reports and then communicate their findings to management, helping them understand how money has been spent and how to decide where to allocate expenses and cut costs in the future.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the 2017 median salary for a budget analyst was $75,240. The BLS expects the employment of budget analysts to increase by 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is as fast as the average growth of all occupations. This employment growth will primarily take place in private companies, government agencies, and the most common environment for a budget analyst, higher education institutions. Most budget analysts work in offices and are full-time employees. They may occasionally have to travel to verify funding allocations, according to the BLS.

A budget analyst should have analytical skills, be detail oriented, and have math skills, including knowledge of spreadsheet and financial analysis applications, as well as financial theories. Excellent writing and interpersonal communication skills are important, as both hard and soft skills are necessary when providing a cogent analysis of the budget to management.

Financial Examiner

Financial examiners play an essential role in any business or government agency. Graduates who are interested in economic theory, as well as economic law and policy, should consider a career as a financial examiner. The primary task of financial examiners is to assess balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements, and asset management to ensure they comply with local, state, and federal financial laws. When companies are not in compliance, large fees and even criminal charges can be filed against them.

The 2017 median salary for a financial examiner was $81,690, according to the BLS, which expects the number of financial examiner jobs to increase by 10 percent from 2016 to 2026. Financial examiners typically work for financial or insurance institutions and federal, state, and local governments. They normally do their work — evaluating loan risks, assessing bank fund management, and reviewing balance sheets — from an office.

To succeed as a financial examiner, graduates must have advanced knowledge of economic theory and practice, as well as an expert understanding of economic laws. They must also be detail oriented and have strong analytical, math, and writing skills.

Personal Financial Advisor

A personal financial advisor — another top economics degree career path — helps individuals and families manage their finances and plan for the future. These advisors must provide financial advice and assistance to clients who are navigating a wide range of financial hurdles: college planning, money management, and retirement planning, for example. As such, they must be well-versed in economic and financial theory and practice.

Personal financial advisors have higher annual salaries than financial analysts, financial examiners, and budget analysts. The 2017 median salary for personal financial advisors was $90,640, according to the BLS, which expects the demand for financial advisors to increase by 15 percent from 2016 to 2026. Most financial advisors are either self-employed or employees of a finance or insurance firm. Those who are self-employed are able to have home offices and work more flexible hours to meet the needs of their clients.

Other highly prized qualities that successful personal financial advisors possess include interpersonal communication, math, verbal, sales, and analytical skills.

Economist

Economists act as expert consultants to business and government leaders, helping to guide their decision-making processes. An economist analyzes the supply and demand of goods, resources, and services, as well as collects and evaluates complex financial data. Economists need to employ economic theory and critical thinking to develop reports and insights for management.

Economists earn more than financial analysts, budget analysts, and personal financial advisors. The 2017 median salary for an economist was $102,490, according to the BLS, which expects the employment of economists to increase by 6 percent from 2016 to 2026. Many economists work collaboratively with other economists and statisticians in an office setting.

Economists should have strong math, writing, speaking, and analytical skills. They need to understand economic theory and know how to apply it to local and global scenarios.

Financial Analyst

Businesses of all sizes and individuals often need guidance when making investments, regardless of the scale of the investment. Financial analysts can assist them, as well as government entities, with investment analysis and risk assessment and provide overall financial guidance. Financial analysts are able to understand and analyze stocks, bonds, and other types of investments. A financial analyst provides insight into the performance of investments and makes suggestions about whether an investment is good.

The 2017 median salary for a financial analyst was $84,300, according to the BLS. The projected job growth is 11 percent from 2016 to 2026. Financial analysts typically work in an office setting and work closely with upper-level management.

Financial analysts must be detail oriented and have strong math skills. They also need critical thinking skills to assess and communicate historical investment data. Financial analysts need effective communication skills and should be comfortable with presenting in front of groups, as they regularly share their analyses with senior leaders.

Learn More:

Interested in becoming a finance professional? Find out how Ohio University’s online Master of Business Administration with a concentration in finance can prepare you for a rewarding financial career.

Recommended Reading:

Financial Analysis vs. Economic Analysis: Are They the Same?

Responsibilities of Equity Analysts: Financial Statements

What Is the Difference between Micro and Macro Economics?

 

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Budget Analysts: How to Become a Budget Analyst

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Budget Analysts: Summary

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Budget Analysts: Work Environment

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economists: How to Become an Economist

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economists: Summary

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Financial Analysts: How to Become a Financial Analyst

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Financial Analysts: Summary

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Financial Examiners: How to Become a Financial Examiner

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Financial Examiners: Summary

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Personal Financial Advisors: How to Become a Personal Financial Advisor

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Personal Financial Advisors: Summary