Economists collect and analyze data, research trends, and evaluate economic issues while studying the production and distribution of goods, resources, and services. They apply quantitative and qualitative economic analysis to a variety of topics within many different fields such as health, education, the environment, and development. They may study energy, healthcare, or the cost of products, while some examine inflation, business cycles, employment levels, taxes, or business cycles.
An economic expert often works for various levels of government from local to federal, for research firms, or international organizations, earning a median annual wage of $108,350 according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Of course, if you hope to embark on this career, you’ll not only need a college degree, preferably a master’s or Ph.D., but you’ll need to have a number of qualities to be successful, including these.
Aptitude for Math
The most obvious quality to have is an ability to work with numbers. Being an economist requires being comfortable handling them and working with mathematical principles. You’ll have to deal with everything from interpreting visual data like graphs to large numerical datasets. Taking preparatory classes in math before studying economics is highly recommended.
Economists tend to be curious, inquisitive people who like to spend a lot of time alone with their thoughts. They’re predominantly investigative and enterprising, with an interest in discovering the unknown, debating arguments, and learning how insights from other fields affect the understanding of any given subject at hand. The constant need to investigate and find out more provides the motivation necessary to work your way through economics. The ability to think for yourself, questioning what you already know, can allow you to come up with your own original research to thrive in this career.
The Ability to Understand Complex Systems
Economics looks at complex systems, which means you’ll have to obtain information from various fields and sources which requires patience, time, and effort. It requires a lot of reading to get up to speed with the latest developments and digest scientific texts.
Work Well Under Pressure
An economist must remain calm and composed under pressure due to tight deadlines and a routine that can be interrupted by urgent data requests. You may be in the middle of a project and asked to attend a conference on the other side of the world. You’ll have to be patient when providing explanations as you’ll have to present findings to clients in terms they’re able to understand. Taking the time to listen, even when a deadline is looming, is important to glean valuable information from your clients, making them feel comfortable enough to volunteer data you might have missed otherwise.
Like a criminal investigator, you’ll need to be very observant as clients will count on you to discern economic patterns, perceive relationships, and understand supply and demand. While being detail-oriented is critical, at the same time, you can’t get lost in minutia or it will prevent you from seeing the big picture. Similar to a scientist, you will use models of expected trends and mathematical analysis to predict future market behavior and then test those predictions.