Why Be an Economics Major?

An economics major offers:

  • Preparation for a wide range of careers
  • Higher incomes than most majors
  • Excellent job growth

What is the economics major?
Economics majors are trained to understand how individual markets work and to understand how government policy influences the economy. The major does not provide a single set of skills. Instead the major provides a number of important business skills of which analytical reasoning and data analysis are probably the two most important. Since these skills are important in most businesses, you should view economics as a broad based major which prepares you for a variety of careers.

What do economists do and where do they work?
Economics majors successfully compete with most majors in most areas of business. For example, it is not unusual to find people with economics degrees working in marketing departments, corporate planning, finance departments, or any other management job. In fact, at most universities without a business school, students interested in business major in economics. One survey found that the primary job responsibilities of business economists were forecasting the United States economy, analyzing and forecasting specific industries, analyzing international issues, market research, and client support.

The National Association of Business Economics (NABE) conducted a survey of economists in 2002 and found that 18.5 percent of economists work for the government, 16 percent work for consulting firms, 11.5 percent work in academia, 11.2 percent work in financial institutions, and the remaining 42.8 percent of economists were working in other areas.

How much do economists make?
Research shows that economics majors earn as much or more than other business majors. Economics majors earned 11 percent more than business administration majors and 7 percent more than marketing majors. The benefit of the economics major increases with the more education you get. If one looks just at those students who went on to earn a masters degree then economic majors earned 19 percent more than accounting majors, 20 percent more than business administration majors, 15 percent more than finance majors, and 18 percent more than marketing majors.

What are the future job prospects?
Not only do the earnings of economics majors compare favorably with the earnings of other majors, but economics majors also have excellent job prospects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the number of jobs for economists will increase between 21 percent and 35 percent from 2000 to 2010. This increase is faster than average. Job opportunities for economists will be best in research, testing, and consulting firms, but job growth will be slow in the government sector.

What about graduate school?
The economics major is also excellent preparation for law school. Research shows that economics majors scored the highest on the LSAT during the 1990s. Research shows that each 1 point on the LSAT translates into an additional $2,600 in salary for the first year out of law school and that the benefit of the higher LSAT score grows over time.

Representative sample of recent Quinnipiac graduates

Law School: University of Connecticut, Florida State University, Vanderbilt University

Graduate School: Boston University, Columbia University, University of California Santa Barbara, University of Wisconsin, University of Notre Dame, New York University

Business: Alliance Capital, Axiom Consulting Group, David Lerner and Associates, Federal Reserve Board (D.C.), GE Capital, Liberty Mutual, Oppenheimer Funds

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