Thompson Rivers University

Why Major in Economics?

July 11, 2012

For Yourself…

KAL 30 OCT 2008 ECONOMISTThe very best reason to study economics is to better understand the world and help you make better choices. It can help you become a better citizen and a more rigorous thinker… not to mention its contributions to advancing your career goals! Many people seem to think economics is only concerned with business.  Economists certainly do analyze business behaviour, but they go far beyond that. At heart, economics is “the study of choices” and so is concerned with all areas of our lives.  It provides rigorous analysis of many real-world subjects you might not automatically think of as “economics”: taxes, unemployment, financial markets, international trade, economic growth, obviously; but also poverty, crime, pollution, health care, education, the environment, and many others – even campus parking.

You have to think logically to succeed in economics, but you don’t have to be a “rocket scientist.” Many economics courses use a little mathematics, but you’ll learn what you need as part of the program.  Some don’t use math at all. In fact, once you have grasped the basics, economic analysis is often “just” common sense.

Since economics offers a clear, concise, and rigorous way of thinking and problem solving, a major in it offers ideal preparation for law school, for graduate study in finance, international relations or public policy, or for work on an MBA or MPA degree. Those who go on to earn MA or doctorate degrees work as research consultants or are employed by governments at all levels, by NGO’s trade and labour organizations and corporations – and of course some can be found teaching in colleges and universities.

A major in economics sends a strong signal to employers and graduate schools that you can reason critically, have basic quantitative skills, can adapt to changing circumstances, and are interested in the “big picture.” You will be asked to work hard in economics courses, but the results are worth it.  If your goals are high and you are not afraid to give your brain some exercise, economics could be just the major for you.

The American Economic Association has created a website listing recent popular books for a general audience which can sparked your interest in Economics. Click here to access the list of books.

For your career…

What do economists actually do? Plenty! While jobs with the title “economist” usually require a graduate degree, undergraduate economics majors are eagerly recruited by governments and businesses of all sizes and types.  A BA with an economics major provides flexibility and opportunity, and it can take you in many directions.

Virtually every large corporation and many medium-sized firms employ economists to help make pricing decisions, to evaluate the impact of government regulations, and to forecast demand and supply conditions. Smaller firms more often contract for economic advice through research firms and trade organizations. The senior executives in many large corporations have backgrounds in economics, and small businesses started by economists are always among the most successful.

Public agencies at the national, provincial and local levels hire economists to monitor the economy, assess the impact of environmental or health regulations, and contribute to policy formation.  Non-profit groups such as hospitals, community foundations and charitable organizations employ economists to help them decide how best to use their scarce resources.

While most of the student’s contact with academic economists is in the classroom, these economists also spend considerable time doing research, usually for publication in professional journals or as part of private or government grant projects.

The demands of majoring in economics often drive away the less ambitious and seem to attract many of the better minds.  Thus, a degree in economics is a valuable credential.  A good grade-point average in economics course speaks for itself and the career pay-off can be large.

Did you know that the median starting salary for Economics was $47,300 in 2011-12. This is higher than Finance at $46,500, Supply Chain management at $50,200,  Marketing and communications at $38,200. Mid-Career earnings for Economics is 94,700! Click here to view the 2011-2012 Pay Scale College Report. To view careers Economics check out the American Economics Association website by clicking here.

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