What does being an economist involve?

As an economist, your role would be to study trends and solve complex problems relating to the economy. The work can touch on almost any aspect of economic and social policy, from taxes and employment levels to energy, health and transport. Government bodies, financial institutions and some major businesses all rely on economists' forecasts to help them plan future activities.

Why should I apply for a career in the economic sector?

Well, look at it this way. The economy is in a massive state right now. Could you be the person to solve it? There will always be a need for economists, whether you make it to high level government positions, or you work for a business, large or small, your role would be vital to the success of your employer's organisation or business. That's a pretty good reason for joining this sector.

Plus financial benefits are likely to be pretty good...

Training and Applicants

Entry for young people

Economists must have a first degree (normally a 2.1 or higher). This is usually in economics, or a joint degree in economics and another relevant subject, such as politics, finance or mathematics. A business studies degree with a high economic content may also be accepted.

Some posts also require a postgraduate qualification. It may be possible to get a job with a first degree in an unrelated subject plus a postgraduate economics qualification.

For a degree, at least two A levels/three H grades, or equivalent qualifications, are usually required. Mathematics and economics are useful subjects, and may be preferred or required by some universities. Applicants also need five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent qualifications, including maths and English.

Ability in a foreign language may help employment prospects. It is a good idea to gain relevant work experience.

GES selects candidates to work as assistant economists in any of 30 government departments. They take on new recruits twice a year, in September and February.

The Bank of England annually recruits graduates from a range of backgrounds for its three-year Analyst Career Training programme.

In the private sector, economists often start in a junior role such as research officer or analyst.

Entry for adults

Adult entrants with suitable qualifications are welcomed. Significant experience in a business or financial environment is an advantage.

What opportunities are available within the sector?

There are many job opportunites to get into the work of economics. But the biggest employer is the Government Economic Service (GES), which employs 1,300 economists in many government departments and agencies. Also, opportunities in government have increased in recent years for aspiring economists.

Other employers include:

  • Large urban councils
  • Management consultancies
  • The Bank of England
  • Banks, insurance companies and investment firms
  • Universities and research organisations
  • Utility companies and regulatory bodies
  • Trade unions, political parties and think-tanks
  • International organisations, such as the European Commission and the World Bank
  • Financial journals and broadsheet newspapers.

There are jobs in cities throughout the UK, with a particular concentration in London. Competition can be fierce.

Vacancies are often advertised through employer websites, or in publications such as the Financial Times and The Economist.

You can chat to working economists or other students of economics by going to the Economics Social Network


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