An economist is an analyst who studies the world of finances. Economists
do research, prepare reports and devise economic forecasts.
This work is not just about dollars and cents. It's really about analyzing
human behavior. So, being an economist involves using a bit of psychology
and a lot of applied mathematics, says Jane Leuthold, an economist at the
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
Economists work with applied math and statistics. Some economists develop
means of collecting economic data. Others interpret and analyze the data to
produce usable statistics.
Economists find jobs in all sorts of businesses. They work in banking and
financial corporations. They also find work in other industries unrelated
to financial services. Many also work in government, for think-tanks and in
the world of academia as instructors and professors.
What issues an economist works on will depend on where the economist works.
For example, a government economist might work on issues like energy policies,
unemployment, inflation and interest rates. An economist working in the private
sector will work on issues that are of interest to that particular area of
Economists in business and government are often referred to as "practical
economists." That's because they work with everyday realities and practicalities,
not economic theory.
Economists who work at universities combine teaching duties with research.
University economists may be referred to as "theoretical economists," because
they work with mathematical models of economic theories.
Economists who work in universities may teach for six to nine hours per
week. The rest of the time is spent preparing lectures, conducting research
Economists who work in business or government may work 35- to 40-hour weeks
with fairly regular hours.
The ability to work under pressure and to meet deadlines is key to the
success of an economist. Whether you work for government, industry or academia,
you have to produce that information on time or else your reputation will
Economists who hold senior positions may have to do some traveling. They
may also have to prepare speeches and even testify before government committees!
Economists who work in government may find themselves caught up in political
battles. That's because they may have to give politicians advice they don't
want to hear, says Jeffery Green, a professor of economics.