Economists use maths to look for patterns in data, to forecast economic conditions, and to design and evaluate policies. If you have an aptitude for maths during school, you’ll probably do well at economics. At the same time, remember that you’ll learn these maths techniques and strengthen your skills throughout your studies. Some of the maths formulas might not make complete sense until you apply them. Putting your maths knowledge into action – such as by collecting and analysing your own data in your own research project – is one of the best ways to fully master these skills. This is when you’ll discover how useful and powerful these maths skills can be.
Economists need to be clear communicators. You’ll need to be able to clearly and factually explain your analysis and logic, especially if you want policymakers to pay attention to your policy recommendations! If you have an aptitude for writing, this skill will come in very useful in economics.
If you enjoy writing, many people with economics background work in journalism and news media, reporting on politics and economics issues. They might work for a specialist outlet, such as The Economist or the Australian Financial Review, or a generalist news outlet.
Having an interest in people and human behaviour will make economics interesting and exciting for you. After all, economics is all about studying people, how they make decisions, and their responsiveness to policy settings. An interest in psychology – and getting inside the heads of what makes people think – would serve you well in economics.
If you’re the type of person who likes problem-solving, this is a key aspect of economics too. Many economists have consultancy or advisory roles, which involves coming up with solutions to help organisations meet their aims and responsibilities. You could be involved in developing corporate strategies, guiding investment decisions, designing policy recommendations for government, or helping not-for-profits and community groups reach their outreach goals.
If you have an interest in philosophy and ideological thought, you’ll find this forms a fascinating part of economics too. Although economists work with data and facts to objectively make sense of what is happening in the world, these different ideological perspectives can sometimes provide a backdrop to guiding policy decisions. Here’s where an interest in government and politics can neatly complement your studies of economics. Indeed, many politicians have a background in economics – and Parliament would probably be improved with more economists!
Economics is also about working cooperatively and collaboratively in other. Most of the time as an economist, you’ll be jointly working on a project in a team. Each person will bring different sets of skills, ideas, perspectives and life experiences to the project. Economic analysis and policymaking needs this diversity of viewpoints and your contribution will be valued. Completing a project as part of your team is also one of the most rewarding aspects of working in economics.
Although economists might talk a lot about money, deep down, most of them are motivated by altruism and are striving to use their skills to make the world better and fairer. This is an important ingredient for a rewarding career in any field!