Employment Prospects


Approximately 21,000 economists are employed in the United States. About 31 percent work for federal and state government agencies. Many economists teach at colleges and universities. Others work as researchers at government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Labor, or international organizations, such as the United Nations, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund. Still others find employment at not-for-profit or for-profit organizations, helping these organizations determine how to use their resources or grow in profitability. Most economics-related positions are concentrated in large cities, such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., although academic positions are spread throughout the United States.

Starting Out

The journals of the various professional economic associations are good sources of job opportunities for beginning economists. Some associations—such as American Economic Association and Agricultural & Applied Economics Association—offer job listings at their Web sites. Your school's career services office can also assist you in locating internships and in setting up interviews with potential employers.

Advancement Prospects

An economist's advancement depends on his or her training, experience, personal interests, and ambition. All specialized areas provide opportunities for promotion to jobs requiring more skill and competence. Such jobs are characterized by more administrative, research, or advisory responsibilities. Consequently, promotions are governed to a great extent by job performance in the beginning fields of work. In university-level academic positions, publishing papers and books about one's research is necessary to become tenured.

Tips for Entry

Visit the following Web sites for job listings:

  • http://www.aaea.org/employmentopps
  • http://www.aeaweb.org/joe
  • http://www.aere.org/jobs
  • https://econjobsnabe.careerwebsite.com

Read publications such as Business Economics (http://nabe.com), Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy (http://www.aaea.org/publications), and The American Economic Review (https://www.aeaweb.org/journals) to learn more about the field.

Talk to economists about their careers. Ask them for advice on breaking into the field.