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Careers in Economics


What Can I do with a Major in Economics?

So, you want to be an Econ Major!  What's in it for you?

Economics is a major that plays different roles for different people. At Illinois College, all major's in the Economics, Finance and Accounting department are deeply embedded in a liberal arts program. Although there are several disciplines within the department, the economics major is most deeply embedded in the liberal arts.  You can major in economics to prepare for careers in for-profit businesses, non-profit business, government, law, and charitable organizations. 

The most important skill that all organizations want their people to have is the ability to think and solve problems. Particular occupations may require special skills, but the needed skills change. The need for people who can think and solve problems does not. Economics is probably the major that best trains you to think in a way that's useful for solving problems. That's what's in it for you. It turns you into a thinking machine that organizations highly value. As a sidelight, becoming a thinking machine changes the way you view life and understand problems.

What do Econ Majors Do after Graduation?

Econ majors enter all kinds of careers after graduation. For example, consider the following individuals who majored in economics.

Business Leaders

Ted Turner – CNN, Atlanta Braves.

Richard Trumka – President of United Mine Workers

Steve Ballmer – CEO Microsoft

Esther Dyson – Silicon Valley Software Pioneer

Diane von Furstenberg – Fashion Designer

Meg Whitman – CEO E-bay Technologies

Politicians and Policy Makers

George H.W. Bush – Former US President

Ronal Reagan – Former U.S. President

Gerald Ford – Former U.S. President

Phil Gramm – US Senator

Arnold Schwarzenegger – Actor/Governor


Athletes and Sports Figures

John Elway – NFL quarterback

Bernie Kosar – NFL quarterback

Mike Mussina – MLB Pitcher

Tiger Woods – Professional Golfer


Musicians and Actors

Mick Jagger – Rolling Stones

Mario Van Peebles – Actor/Director

Young M.C. – Singer

Lionel Richie – Singer/composer

Danny Glover - Actor


Economics should be seen as an all round major that prepares you to be an all round person. All the other business majors developed as spin-offs of economics. With economics you study the core reasoning that underlies all business decisions. It's like studying the operating systems of computers rather than studying software. John Maynard Keynes said, "the theory of economics does not furnish a body of settled conclusions immediately applicable to policy. It is a method rather than a doctrine, an apparatus of the mind, a technique which helps its possessor to draw correct conclusions."

His quotation helps to explain why economics majors pursue a wide variety of careers after graduation. Economics is an approach to decision making that is valuable to all aspects of life. Individuals, employers and graduate schools find the techniques used in economics "to draw correct conclusions" very useful. For these reasons economics majors are found pursuing all sorts of careers after graduation, and very often they are not in positions titled "economist." If you're thinking of becoming a lawyer, economics is a perfect major. If you're planning on becoming a CEO or running your own business, economics is a perfect major. If you're planning on becoming an investment banker, economics is a perfect major. However if you're planning on becoming a CPA, economics is not the major for you but accounting majors are well served with at least a minor in economics.  Many accounting majors double major in economics.

Here are some potential job titles and hiring organizations

Potential Job Titles for Econ Majors.

 Actuary  Administrative officer (federal, state, county, municipal)  Advertising manager  Auditor  Business forecaster
 Buyer  Chamber of Com. analyst  Commodities analyst/trader  Computer programmer Consumer affairs director
Credit and collection manager  Customs officer  Data communications supv & technician  Demographer Economist (financial, industrial, labor, price, tax)
 Economic research assistant efficiency expert  Employment research & planning director  Financial planner  Financial/investment analyst Government administrator
 Import-export agent  Industrial economist  Insurance agent/broker  Intelligence specialist  Labor relations supervisor
 Lawyer  Market research analyst  Personnel manager  Public relations  Public survey interviewer
 Real estate agent/broker  Reserve officer  Sales manager  Securities trader (financial)  Statistician
 Stockbroker  Systems analyst teacher  Technical writer  Trust officer, bank  Treasury management specialist
 Wage/salary administrator        

Advertising agencies and departments Banks and investment firms Business corporations and industries Chamber of Commerce Civic and taxpayers associations
Colleges, schools, and educational institutions  Employment agencies  Government agencies Insurance companies    Labor unions
Magazines, newspapers and periodicals  Management consulting firms Market research departments and firms Personnel departments Public relations firms
Trade associations        

Source:  University of Mary Washington The Office of Career Services