ECONOMICS

Economics careers

What skills have I gained on my course?

Economics graduates have more to offer employers than their expertise in Economics! Your degree will also have helped you to develop skills such as numeracy; analysis; verbal and written communication; problem solving; and presentation. You can probably also offer practical skills such as knowledge of computing packages or foreign languages.

Graduate recruiters in all career areas value these skills as much as your subject knowledge and general intellectual ability. It may be of interest to know that research at Kent University shows that Economics graduates enjoy the highest earnings premia among all graduates! www.kent.ac.uk/economics/news/archive/earnings.html

For a comprehensive skills and employability profile, see http://studyingeconomics.ac.uk/employability-profile/

What careers are open to economics graduates?

A degree in Economics can lead into many career areas. Some are obvious, others are not. Surprisingly, relatively few Economics graduates will begin a career as a professional economist directly after graduation – a postgraduate degree is usually required for such posts.

Statistics show that the majority of Economics students after graduation obtain employment within six months of graduating. The jobs they get are many and varied, although with an emphasis on the finance sector (including banking, accountancy, tax advice, actuarial work, insurance and trading).

Other roles that Economics graduates regularly go into include management; marketing, sales and advertising; human resources; IT and education.  For more detail on the destinations of Economics graduates, see below.

Working as an economist

PROFILE: Economist

Researches and analyses economic trends, issues and data. Uses this research to produce forecasts & reports and as the basis for advising clients (companies, financial institutions, & public bodies) and providing them with economic information for use in forming policy or strategy.
EMPLOYERS: Government Economic Service, Investment banks, Bank of England, insurance companies, stockbrokers, consultancies; think-tanks, e.g. Institute for Fiscal Studies. Manufacturing & commercial companies (usually large multinationals); local authorities; international organisations; universities.
RELATED JOBS: investment banker; financial analyst; accountant; lecturer HE; journalist.
SATISFACTIONS: Using degree subject; indirectly influencing organisational decisions.
NEGATIVES: Working to meet deadlines & under pressure.
SKILLS: spoken & written communication, analysing; decision-making; numeracy.
ADVANCEMENT: Promotion to Senior Economist or Researcher.
DEGREE: Degree in Economics normally required; Bank of England recruits from any discipline & provides training in economics.
POSTGRADUATE STUDY: Master's degree in Economics recommended - few openings for graduates with just Bachelor's degree. Some postgraduate diploma courses available as conversion courses for non-Economics graduates, e.g. at Cambridge, London (Birkbeck College), Manchester.
TIPS: Need to show good interpersonal as well as academic skills and to be aware of current events & their economic context or implications - read the finance and business pages of the broadsheets as well as the Economist.

 

A more detailed profile can be found at www.prospects.ac.uk/links/iteconomist

Other careers related to economics

The most effective economists are those who also have the best “soft” skills – communication, teamwork, emotional intelligence, etc. They could really up their skills by doing some Operational Research type modelling alongside their economics training.

A very important point to make regarding application forms or the written work they present is about grammar and typographical mistakes. They probably need to practice writing and to refresh their written skills as these will become valuable not only for applications to other posts but in their day job.

Some individuals don’t seem to prepare in a targeted way: e.g. if you apply to work in economics with Government, expect to be asked about the role of Government in economics and review areas or market failures - externalities, public goods, information
asymmetries, inflation (what is the problem).

Economics Graduates’ Skills and Employability (Economics Network and Higher Education Academy)

Around half of Economics graduates enter careers in the finance sector, such as:

Others may use their analytical skills in sectors such as:

 

Other career options

Many careers are open to graduates in any subject and may offer the potential to use the skills and knowledge that you have gained through studying Economics. Your interpersonal skills, however, are likely to be even more important. Some of these careers include:

 

For an overview of careers in business, see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/workin/business-functions.htm

The Prospects pages “Options with your Subject” may also be of interest www.prospects.ac.uk/options_economics_job_options.htm

Employers which recruit economists

Organisations which have in the past advertised posts for graduates for work in economic research, policy and consultancy.

Many of these are likely to give preference to people with a postgraduate economics degree: the Bank of England and the Government Economic Service are the largest recruiters of undergraduate economists.

Postgraduate study

Increasingly, students are following their first degree with further academic or professional study: over a quarter of Economics graduates are engaged in some form of further study, either full or part-time, six months after graduation. This does not include the graduates who begin their postgraduate study a year or more after their first degree.

If you are interested in a career as an economist, a postgraduate degree is almost essential. Approximately 3% of graduates from Economics BA/BSc degrees begin their career in a specialised economics position each year; however, this proportion rises to over a third of those completing Master's degrees in Economics. A few employers which recruit undergraduates into economics-related posts will sponsor you to obtain a postgraduate qualification, often on a part-time basis. The Bank of England and the Government Economic Service offer support for Masters degree study.

Many employers of interest to Economics graduates, particularly those in the finance sector, target their graduate recruitment on undergraduates rather than postgraduates. This does not mean that they will not recruit postgraduates, but you may find that you are entering the organisation at the same level that you would have done with your first degree. These employers will provide on-the-job training and study leave if there are relevant professional qualifications to be gained (such as chartered accountancy) which are of value to them.

If you are interested in other careers, some, such as teaching or law, will require study for a relevant professional qualification. In other careers, such as journalism, a postgraduate degree is not a requirement, but may be an advantage, while there are many careers that will put more emphasis on personal skills than on academic qualifications. Our “I Want to Work In” pages and the “Explore Types of Jobs” section of the Prospects website will indicate whether postgraduate study is essential, useful or not needed for a specific career.
There are many reasons for choosing to continue into postgraduate study. You may wish to obtain a higher degree purely for interest rather than for career reasons. Whatever your motivation, you need to consider issues such as your suitability for further study, the options available to you and the costs involved. See the Postgraduate Study section of this site for more on these issues.

What do economics graduates do?

Over the last three years the destinations of single and joint honours Economics graduates have broken down as follows:

In employment

66%

Further study

15%

Taking time out or otherwise unavailable

6%

Unemployed

9%

Other

4%

Types of work entered

Business & finance professionals or associate professionals

43%

Commercial, industrial, public sector managers

15%

Administrative, clerical, secretarial positions

15%

Media, sales, advertising, PR etc

5%

Others, inc. teaching, IT, health, retail, uniformed services, etc.

22%

(Figures from HESA www.prospects.ac.uk/links/wdgd)

Examples of jobs and postgraduate study entered by recent Kent graduates in Economics

These statistics only cover the first six months after graduation. A significant number of graduates are, at this stage, engaged in work which they would regard as temporary - using a short-term job to gain work experience that could act as a stepping-stone to a better position, or earning money to finance postgraduate study or time out travelling, for example. Please remember this if some of the graduate destinations listed seem surprising or discouraging

Finance Sector

Alexander Hall

Trainee Mortgage Broker

Audit Commission

Trainee Auditor

BMW

Accounts Assistant

Economic Perspectives

Research Assistant

Financial Services Authority

Associate

HSBC

Commercial Management trainee

JP Morgan

Corporate & Investment Support

Miscoe Computers

Finance Assistant

NHS Trust

Finance Management trainee (CIPFA)

PricewaterhouseCoopers

Trainee Chartered Accountant

Prudential

Customer Administrator

Schroders

Fund Manager’s Assistant

Square Mile

Stock Broker

Standard & Poors

Business Development Intern

Talbot Underwriting Ltd

Underwriting Assistant

Towers Perrin

Actuarial Analyst

Wolves & Kent

Trainee Stockbroker

Arts, Design, Culture, and Media Sector

 

Channel 4 TV

Media Assistant

Retail Sector:

 

Debenhams

Distributor

Homebase

Assistant Buyer

House of Fraser

Allocator

Mothercare

Merchandiser

Marketing, Sales and Advertising Sector

 

Aladis

Marketing Executive

IG Index

Copywriter

Kent Tourism Alliance

Marketing Assistant

Octopus Communications

Trainee PR Consultant

Social & Welfare Sector

 

The City Church

Youth Worker

Further Study:

 

Boston University, USA

MA Economics

Canterbury Christ Church

PGCE Secondary

Cass Business School, London

MSc Banking & International Management

College of Europe, Bruges

MA European Economics

London School of Economics

MSc Economics

SOAS

MSc Finance & Development

University College London

MSc Econometrics

University College London

MA Business

University of Kent

Postgraduate Diploma in Actuarial Science

University of Kent

M.Phil Politics

University of Kent

MSc Management (Marketing)

University of St. Andrews

MSc International Strategy & Economics

University of Warwick

MSc Econometrics

, see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/fdrbases/destinations.htm

Longer Term Prospects

An Economics degree offers many possibilities and graduates are not necessarily going to remain with their first employer or job role for the whole of their working lives. These are some of the positions occupied by past Kent graduates of a slightly older vintage:

Further information:

Jobs and vacancy information:

 

Last fully updated 2012