Economists provide insight and advice to organisations based on detailed research and analysis of data relating to economic and financial policies and trends.
This insight informs strategic planning, policy development and decision-making.
The role revolves around working with complex information and statistics, so you will need keen maths and numeracy skills, as well as an aptitude for problem-solving.
The first step towards a career as an economist is a good degree in Economics (2:1 or higher). A joint degree in economics and another relevant subject may also be suitable, provided that the majority of the modules you study are in Economics. Relevant subjects for a joint degree include:
- international economics
Some employers also require you to have a postgraduate qualification, such as a master’s degree or PhD, in Economics.
If you choose to go into the private sector, you will typically start as an economic research analyst. If you want to work in the public sector, you could join the Government Economic Service (GES) as an assistant economist via the Civil Service Fast Stream.
At City, University of London our Economics degree programmes are designed to give you a solid foundation in economic theory and empirical research that will prepare you for a range of career options in industry, government and academia.
If your first degree is in a different subject, you may still be able to start a career as an economist if you have a postgraduate degree in Economics.
We offer several master’s degree programmes that are suitable for graduates from a range of disciplines, including Politics, Law, Business Studies and the Humanities.
What can I expect as an economist?
As an economist, you can expect a varied role encompassing many aspects of economic, financial and social policy. You will have a range of responsibilities, including:
- Collecting, analysing and interpreting complex information and statistics
- Analysing and evaluating current and past economic trends and policies
- Advising on the economic impact of proposed policies, products or services
- Creating mathematical models to forecast future economic developments
- Writing reports and briefings and presenting findings to different audiences.
Related courses at City
Whatever your level of interest in becoming an economist, City's courses can help you take one step closer to a career, develop specialisms that'll set you apart from the field or broaden your horizons with study in related subjects.
Who can I work for as an economist?
The UK’s largest single employer of economists is the GES, which employs around 1,500 economists across more than 30 government departments and agencies.
Major financial organisations such as the Bank of England also offer graduate training and development programmes.
Other employers include:
- international and non-governmental organisations
- financial and management consultancies
- think tanks
- trade unions
- accountancy and insurance firms
- banks, both City and high street
- regional economic development agencies.
What about work experience as an economist?
The GES runs a summer scheme offering work experience placements ranging from six to 12 weeks. Individual government departments may also provide shadowing or work experience opportunities.
Work experience in related areas such as accountancy, finance or insurance can also be useful and can help you to build essential skills such as communication and team working.
What are my prospects as an economist?
Prospects are good although progression varies by sector. The GES, for example, offers a structured training and career path with opportunities to work across different departments and gain promotion as your career progresses.
Continuing professional development will be an essential feature of your career so there could be opportunities to develop management skills and move into senior leadership roles.
Many economists move between different industry sectors or between industry, government and academia as their interests and specialisms develop.