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Economists. Economists study the ways a society distributes scarce resources such as land, labor, raw materials, and machinery to produce goods and services. They conduct research, collect and analyze data, monitor economic trends, and develop forecasts. They might research topics such as energy costs, inflation, interest rates, farm prices, rents, imports, or employment levels.
Most economists are concerned with practical applications of economic policy in a particular area. They use their understanding of economic relationships to advise businesses and other organizations, including insurance companies, banks, securities firms, industry and trade associations, labor unions, and government agencies. Economists use mathematical models to develop programs predicting the nature and length of business cycles, the effects of inflation on the economy, or the effects of tax legislation on unemployment levels.
Economists devise methods and procedures for obtaining the data they need. For example, sampling techniques may be used to conduct a survey, and various mathematical modeling techniques may be used to develop forecasts. Preparing reports on the results of their research is an important part of the economist's job. Relevant data must be reviewed and analyzed, applicable tables and charts prepared, and the results presented in clear, concise language that can be understood by non-economists. Being able to present economic and statistical concepts in a meaningful way is particularly important for economists whose research is directed toward making policy for their organization.
Economists who work for government agencies may assess economic conditions in the United States or abroad in order to estimate the economic effects of specific changes in legislation or public policy. They may study areas such as how the dollar's fluctuation against foreign currencies affects import and export levels. The majority of government economists work in the area of agriculture, labor, or quantitative analysis, and some economists work in almost every area of government. For example, economists in the U.S. Department of Commerce study domestic production, distribution, and consumption of commodities or services, while economists employed with the Bureau of Labor Statistics analyze data on prices, wages, employment, productivity, and safety and health. An economist working in State or local government might analyze data on trade and commerce, industrial growth, and employment and unemployment rates in order to project employment trends.Marketing Research Analysts.
Marketing research analysts are concerned with the potential sales of a product or service. They analyze statistical data on past sales to predict future sales. They gather data on competitors and analyze prices, sales, and methods of marketing and distribution. Like economists, marketing research analysts devise methods and procedures for obtaining the data they need. They often design telephone, personal, or mail interview surveys to assess consumer preferences. The surveys usually are conducted by trained interviewers under the marketing research analyst's direction. Once the data are compiled, marketing research analysts evaluate it. They then make recommendations based upon their findings. They provide a company's management with information needed to make decisions on the promotion, distribution, design, and pricing of company products or services, or to determine the advisability of adding new lines of merchandise, opening new branches, or otherwise diversifying the company's operations. Analysts may conduct opinion research to determine public attitudes on various issues. This can help political or business leaders and others assess public support for their policies or products.
Economists and marketing research analysts who work for government agencies and private firms have structured work schedules. They often work alone writing reports, preparing statistical charts, and using computers, but they may also be an integral part of a research team. Most work under pressure of deadlines and tight schedules, and sometimes must work overtime. Their routine may be interrupted by special requests for data, letters, meetings, or conferences. Regular travel may be necessary to collect data or attend conferences or meetings.
Economists and marketing research analysts held about 48,000 jobs in 1994. Private industry, particularly economic and marketing research firms, management consulting firms, banks, securities and commodities brokers, and computer and data processing companies, employed about 8 out of 10 salaried workers. The remainder, primarily economists, were employed by a wide range of government agencies, primarily in the State Government. The Departments of Labor, Agriculture, and Commerce are the largest Federal employers of economists. A number of economists and marketing research analysts combine a full-time job in government or business with part-time or consulting work in academia or another setting.
Employment of economists and marketing research analysts is concentrated in large cities. Some economists work abroad for companies with major international operations, for U.S. Government agencies, and for international organizations like the World Bank and the United Nations.
Besides the jobs described above, many economists and marketing research analysts held economics and marketing faculty positions in colleges and universities. Economics and marketing faculty have flexible work schedules, and may divide their time among teaching, research, consulting, and administration. (See the statement on college and university faculty elsewhere in the Handbook.)
Graduate training is required for most private sector economist and marketing research analyst jobs, and for advancement to more responsible positions. Economics includes many specialties at the graduate level, such as advanced economic theory, econometrics, international economics, and labor economics. Students should select graduate schools strong in specialties in which they are interested. Marketing research analysts may earn advanced degrees in economics, business administration, marketing, statistics, or some closely related discipline. Some schools help graduate students find internships or part-time employment in government agencies, economic consulting firms, financial institutions, or marketing research firms prior to graduation.
In the Federal Government, candidates for entry level economist positions must have a bachelor's degree with a minimum of 21 semester hours of economics and 3 hours of statistics, accounting, or calculus. Competition is keen for those positions which require only a bachelor's degree, however, and additional education or superior academic performance is likely to be required.
For a job as an instructor in many junior and some community colleges, a master's degree is the minimum requirement. In most colleges and universities, however, a Ph.D. is necessary for appointment as an instructor. A Ph.D. and extensive publications in academic journals are required for a professorship, tenure, and promotion.
Whether working in government, industry, research organizations, marketing, or consulting firms, economists and marketing research analysts who have a graduate degree usually qualify for more responsible research and administrative positions. A Ph.D. is necessary for top economist or marketing positions in many organizations. Many corporation and government executives have a strong background in economics or marketing.
A bachelor's degree with a major in economics or marketing is generally not sufficient to obtain positions as economist or marketing analyst, but is excellent preparation for many entry level positions as a research assistant, administrative or management trainee, marketing interviewer, or any of a number of professional sales jobs.
Economics majors can choose from a variety of courses, ranging from those which are intensely mathematical such as microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics, to more philosophical courses such as the history of economic thought.
In addition to courses in business, marketing, and consumer behavior, marketing majors should take courses in related disciplines, including economics, psychology, organizational behavior, sociology, finance, business law, and international relations. Because of the importance of quantitative skills to economists and marketing researchers, courses in mathematics, statistics, econometrics, sampling theory and survey design, and computer science are extremely helpful.
Aspiring economists and marketing research analysts should gain experience gathering and analyzing data, conducting interviews or surveys, and writing reports on their findings while in college. This experience can prove invaluable later in obtaining a full-time position in the field, since much of their work in the beginning may center around these duties. With experience, economists and marketing research analysts eventually are assigned their own research projects.
Persons considering careers as economists or marketing research analysts should be able to work accurately because much time is spent on data analysis. Patience and persistence are necessary qualities since economists and marketing research analysts must spend long hours on independent study and problem solving. At the same time, they must be able to work well with others, especially marketing research analysts, who often interview or oversee interviews for a wide variety of individuals. Economists and marketing research analysts must be able to present their findings, both orally and in writing, in a clear, meaningful way.
Employment of economists and marketing research analysts is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2005. Most job openings, however, are likely to result from the need to replace experienced workers who transfer to other occupations, or retire or leave the labor force for other reasons.
Opportunities for economists should be best in private industry, especially in research, testing, and consulting firms, as more companies contract out for economic research services. Competition, the growing complexity of the global economy, and increased reliance on quantitative methods for analyzing business trends, forecasting sales, and planning purchasing and production should spur demand for economists. The continued need for economic analyses in virtually every industry should result in additional jobs for economists. Employment of economists in the Federal Government should decline in line with the rate of growth projected for the Federal workforce as a whole. Slower than average employment growth is expected among economists in State and local government.
A strong background in economic theory, mathematics, statistics, and econometrics provides the basis for acquiring any specialty within the field. Those skilled in quantitative techniques and their application to economic modeling and forecasting, including the use of computers, coupled with good communications skills, should have the best job opportunities.
Persons who graduate with a bachelor's degree in economics through the year 2005 will face keen competition for the limited number of economist positions for which they qualify. They will qualify for a number of other positions, however, where they can take advantage of their economic knowledge in conducting research, developing surveys, or analyzing data. Many graduates with bachelor's degrees will find good jobs in industry and business as management or sales trainees, or administrative assistants. Economists with good quantitative skills are qualified for research assistant positions in a broad range of fields. Those who meet State certification requirements may become high school economics teachers. The demand for secondary school economics teachers is expected to grow as economics becomes an increasingly important and popular course. (See the statement on kindergarten, elementary, and secondary school teachers elsewhere in the Handbook.)
Candidates who hold a master's degree in economics have much better employment prospects than bachelor's degree holders. Many businesses, research and consulting firms, and government agencies seek master's degree holders who have strong computer and quantitative skills and can perform complex research, but do not command the higher salary of a Ph.D. Ph.D. degree holders are likely to face competition for teaching positions in colleges and universities.
Demand for marketing research analysts should be strong due to an increasingly competitive global economy. Marketing research provides organizations valuable feedback from purchasers, allowing companies to evaluate consumer satisfaction and more effectively plan for the future. As companies seek to expand their market and consumers become better informed, the need for marketing professionals is increasing. Opportunities for marketing research analysts should be good in a wide range of employment settings, particularly in marketing research firms, as companies find it more profitable to contract out for marketing research services rather than supporting their own marketing department. Other organizations, including financial services organizations, health care institutions, advertising firms, manufacturing firms that produce consumer goods, and insurance companies may offer job opportunities for marketing research analysts.
A strong background in economic theory, mathematics, statistics, and econometrics provides the basis for acquiring any specialty within the field. Those skilled in quantitative techniques and their application to marketing research, including the use of computers, should have the best job opportunities. Like economists, marketing research graduates with related work experience and an advanced degree in marketing or a closely related business field should have the best job opportunities.
Those with only a bachelor's degree but who have a strong background in mathematics, statistics, survey design, and computer science may be hired by private firms as assistants to marketing research professionals.
According to a 1995 salary survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, persons with a bachelor's degree in economics received offers averaging $27,600 a year; for those with a bachelor's degrees in marketing, $25,400.
The median base salary of business economists in 1994 was $70,000, according to a survey by the National Association of Business Economists. Ninety two percent of the respondents held advanced degrees. The highest salaries were reported by those who had a Ph.D., with a median salary of $80,000. Master's degree holders earned a median salary of $62,000, while bachelor's degree holders earned $60,500. The highest paid business economists were in the securities and investment industry, which reported a median income of $95,000, followed by the nondurable manufacturing at $94,000 and the banking industry at $85,000. The lowest paid were in academia, wholesale and retail trade, and publishing.
The Federal Government recognizes education and experience in certifying applicants for entry level positions. In general, the entrance salary for economists having a bachelor's degree averaged about $18,700 a year in 1995; however, those with superior academic records could begin at $23,200. Those having a master's degree could qualify for positions at an annual salary of $28,300. Those with a Ph.D. could begin at $34,300, while some individuals with experience and an advanced degree could start at $41,100. Starting salaries were slightly more in selected areas where the prevailing local pay was higher. Economists in the Federal Government in nonsupervisory, supervisory, and managerial positions averaged around $59,030 a year in 1995.
Economists are concerned with understanding and interpreting financial matters, among other subjects. Other jobs in this area include financial managers, financial analysts, underwriters, actuaries, securities and financial services sales workers, credit analysts, loan officers, and budget officers.
Marketing research analysts do research to find out how well products or services sell. This may include the planning, implementation, and analysis of surveys to determine people's needs and preferences. Other jobs using these skills include psychologists, sociologists, and urban and regional planners.
For information on careers in economics and business, contact:
National Association of Business Economists, 1233 20th St. NW., Suite 505, Washington, DC 20036.
For information about careers and salaries in marketing research, contact:
Marketing Research Association, 2189 Silas Deane Hwy., Suite 5, Rocky Hill, CT 06067.
Council of American Survey Research Organizations, 3 Upper Devon, Port Jefferson, NY 11777.
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