A master’s degree in economics is a sought-after qualification in today’s world, opening many job opportunities and career paths.
There are two main reasons for this.
First, most employers highly appreciate the expertise in this field of knowledge and the related skillset. There isn’t a company or an organization in the world that couldn’t benefit from an economist’s expertise. Today’s businesses rely on actionable data insights, calculated risks, and financial management.
Second, holding a bachelor’s degree in economics simply won’t cut it anymore. As noted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the competition in the field is becoming more fierce, and even entry-level employment opportunities require master-level education.
Of course, investing in a master’s is more than worth it. According to the same source, job outlook is projected to grow 14% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations, and the economists’ yearly median pay was $108,350 in 2020.
But, what exactly can you expect upon graduating? Which sectors offer job opportunities to the masters of economics? Where to find high-quality employers? What are your options when it comes to pursuing different career paths?
Here’s the lowdown.
As we outlined, nearly all sectors need economic expertise. And even though the same basic knowledge will likely be employed across different sectors, distinctive working environments will require slightly different skill sets.
As reported by the BLS, 32% of economists work in the public sector (excluding postal services and education).
When part of the governmental structure, their main job is to provide core data insights to policymakers and advise them on the potential economic impact of laws and regulations. Such advisory roles can significantly impact people’s lives, and it’s best suited for experts with altruistic aspiration.
However, it’s not less important that jobs within the government sector are generally more steady and secure, though the salaries are lower than in the private sector.
Economists who don’t opt for the immediate application of their expertise usually decide to impact future generations by teaching economic subjects. The role is much less stressful, the job pretty steady and secure, and the pay is similar to that in the governmental sector in many states. At most two-year colleges, a master’s degree is listed as an obligatory prerequisite for obtaining a license, while higher education institutions require a PhD.
Graduates with a master’s in economics who decide to head straight into industry and pursue a career path in the private sector often have the highest wages. Their typical duties include providing guidance in formulating and implementing a company’s strategic decisions, providing data insights, evaluating risks, analysing investment opportunities, and many more.
Those with an advanced background can also make it to international organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund’s World Bank or the United Nations.
To narrow down a bit our perspective, here’s the list of particular work environments that would most likely need MA Economists:
In Zambia specifically, for instance, recent employers who were looking to hire economists were:
Our explanations of different employment sectors and common employers don’t even tackle all the various job titles a graduate from MA in economics can grow into. As we said, this degree is very versatile, especially when you consider that it is often recognized as a preferred substitute for many qualifications (in a sense that it’s commonly accepted as a “related field”).
Here are some job opportunities after completing the master’s programme in economics:
An economist is the most common job title in economics and can be sought after across sectors. Typical job duties include: using statistical models to gather and analyze data, make appropriate and evidence-based recommendations, and offer actionable solutions to economic problems.
Average Salary: $108,350 per year (US data, source: BLS)
9.820 ZMK per month (Zambia, source: Salary Explorer)
Economic consultants also work in various sectors, but their main field of expertise is analyzing different economic scenarios to help organizations improve their performance. It’s a more research-oriented job, as typical job duties include conducting studies and exploring economical trends.
Average Salary: $76,487 per year (US data, source: PayScale)
Policy analysts work in the governmental sector, where they analyze data of public interest and use the insight to recommend solutions to policymakers. This is typically an advisory role that entails a lot of reporting and requires strong presentation skills.
Average Salary: $59,565 per year (US data, source: PayScale)
6,620 ZMK per month (Zambia, source: Salary Explorer)
The economists who pursue a career path in education serve as knowledge generators and use their expertise to make the next generation of economic specialists. They often stay in academia and continue to Ph.D. studies.
Average Salary: $84,675 per year (US data, source: PayScale)
8,960 ZMK per month (Zambia, source: Salary Explorer)
Financial Analysts usually work in the private sector and research investment vehicles, such as industries, stocks, and bonds. Typical responsibilities include maintaining or improving the financial status of a company, evaluating investment risks, and projecting short term and long term consequences of strategic decisions.
Average Salary: $81,081 per year (US data, source: PayScale)
7,620 ZMK per month (Zambia, source: Salary Explorer)
Data scientists’ job is more closely related to applied mathematics and statistics: they are responsible for finding a logical way of organizing unstructured data. Typical job duties entail developing algorithms, predictive models, and statistical systems. Because the role demands extensive knowledge, it’s usually rewarded with higher earnings.
Average Salary: $116,185 per year (US data, source: Economic Research Institute)
9,960 ZMK per month (Zambia, source: Salary Explorer)
At the end of the day, if you’re thinking about enrolling in a master’s programme in economics, you can probably do your own math.
Yes, MA in Economics is an investment, but it has a high probability of justifying itself: your future earnings will likely cover the overall costs of the studies. Not to mention that there are online masters degrees in economics, which could significantly reduce your expenses.