Because economists study such a wide range of topics, you’ll find economists working in all sorts of jobs and organisations. This includes many different types of government departments, private consultancy firms, universities, research centres, think tanks, not-for-profit agencies and educational roles.
If you have other interests, combining economics with other fields of study can enhance your jobs options and help you stand out from other candidates. Economics is highly complementary to many other qualifications, including law, political science, public administration, finance, accounting, international relations, psychology, sociology, philosophy, mathematics, environmental science and engineering. You can study these other subjects by doing a double degree or choosing them as a major or minor field of specialisation.
While the starting salaries of economics graduates are similar to those of most other business graduates, economists’ salaries tend to rise more rapidly throughout your career. Demand for economists is relatively stable and secure – it’s not as volatile as some others fields within business – so you are likely to face less job insecurity during economic downturns.
In the public sector, you’ll find economists working in many government departments and agencies at both Australian (Federal) and State/Territory level. These include the Department of Treasury, Department of Prime Minister (or Premier) and Cabinet, Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), Parliamentary Budget Office (PNO), Productivity Commission, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Behavioural Economics Team Australia (BETA), Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), Australian Securities and Investment (ASIC), Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics (BTRE), and Australian Tax Office (ATO).
In the private sector, you’ll find economists in many consultancy firms, both large and small, in commercial and investment banks; in energy companies and regulators; and within many private firms. Economists can also work in “think tank” organisations which provide policy analysis, commentary and recommendations to government.
In academia, you’ll find economists undertaking research and teaching in university economic departments, as well as in business schools, social science schools, and in specialist or multidisciplinary research centres or institutes. Within education, you can also channel your love for economics into secondary school teaching and curriculum design.
Economists serve an important role in global economic and statistical agencies, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), United Nations (UN), World Economic Forum (WEF), World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Economists serve a valuable role working for not-for-profit and community organisations, including for many social welfare groups from a global to a local scale.
Career-wise, you can be quite mobile as an economist. Throughout their careers, many economists move across different departments or firms, and move across sectors entirely, such as moving between the public and private sectors, or into or out of academia. The experience of working in one sector can be highly valuable for transitioning into another sector later on.
Many employers have “graduate programs” specifically tailored to new recruits who have recently completed their university qualifications. These graduate programs typically run for one or two years, after which time the employer can offer you a job on the next stage of the career ladder. Graduate positions are usually advertised early in the year, in the year before the job actually starts. This means that you can start looking for and applying for graduate jobs while you are completing your final year of university. Some employers also offer internship programs for current students. If you have qualifications and experience that are above graduate level, then you can lookout for positions above this entrant level which could be advertised at any time.
Jobs for economists are usually advertised in all key job advertisement platforms as well as specialist outlets such as APS Jobs, Inomics, and EconJobs.