Economist Career Information
What an Economist does
If the word Economist fills your mind with frames of Manmohan Singh, Jaswant Sinha, P. Chidambaram and their sleep-inducing speech on budget day, you need a crash course in the basics of economics.
First, let's get this right. If you wish to become an Economist, you should know that economics is all about making choices. As we all know, resources on planet earth are limited. For instance, basic resources like land, labour, capital and others like crude oil, iron ore, water, food materials and money - are all scarce. Hence, we have to utilise these resources in the most judicial and optimal ways.
Economists do this - they make sure that the scarce resources are utilised in an optimal way. There are two branches of Economics. They are Micro Economics and Macro Economics. A micro Economist focuses his or her attention on individuals and firms. A micro Economist studies how much of goods or services consumers will demand at a certain price and how supply affects demand. A macro Economist studies the whole economy and forecasts future trends in employment, inflation, productivity, economic growth and investment.
As an Economist, your main job would be to:
• Find ways to distribute these scare resources
• Study demand and supply
• Study production
• Study the cost so as to maximize production at the lowest cost
• Study the prices of commodities
• Look into population increase and its effects on food resources
• Look for newer ways to minimise cost of labour for production of goods
• Study consumer demand to maximise the production, and so on.
Are you still with me? Good.
The study of Economics finds its application in business, industries, demography, sociology, psychology, anthropology, economic planning, developmental theory, transport, labour relations, engineering and technology, bioscience, etc. Now that may seem like anything and everything revolves around Economics. No technology, concept or discovery is feasible unless it is economically sound. So as an Economist, you'll have the opportunity to choose from various fields to work in.
Some of the specialised areas within the field of Economics are:
Agricultural Economics: Here as an Agricultural Economist, you will assist those involved in the agrarian community to make best use of rural resources, production, land productivity, labour, farm products and increase efficiency of farm management and maximise farm income. As an Agricultural Economist, you will also have to use your reasoning skills to forecast production and consumption pattern of agricultural products, plan out production at the lowest cost, identify markets and recommend courses for agricultural financing.
Business Economics: As a Business Economis,t you’ll study business cycles, income distribution, disposable income, trends in spending pattern, effects of various changes on spending habits, effects of political and economic changes, trends in assets generation and investment, development of markets, and various other business related issues.
As a Business Economist, you’ll work with the corporate planning department and study the organisational structures of various corporate houses in relation to operation, marketing of goods and services. Another area of work will be helping corporate houses to generate even more money by studying their financial operations.
Financial Economics: As a Financial Economist,you'll study credit and monetary polices to predict financial activity in the country. Your areas of concern will be cost of capital, capital budgeting, financial control, credit policies, cash flow and all related money matters. Devising credit policies, monetary policies, rate of interest, deflationary measures, foreign exchange policies, trade policies, etc. are all part and parcel of your job as a Financial Economist.
Labour Economics: As an advisor to government or industry you'll work on developing and implementing labour policies. Issues such as labour legislation, minimum wages, social development, medical insurance; regulatory mechanisms, etc. will be you mantra. Basically, it's all about optimising the use of labour force of a country at the most feasible economic cost. As a Labour Economist, you will need to be well versed in the operations of labour unions, industrial and labour laws and management policies.
International Economics: Your main job as an International Economist, would be to strike a balance between the exports and imports of a country. Studying foreign trade policies and establishing cordial international relations will also be your area of work. Terms of international trade like tariff structure, quality control, import and export taxes, foreign exchange control and trade agreement will hold a lot of meaning for you.
Transport Economics: This is the most 'moving' aspect of the job - studying economies of transportation, analysing costs and benefits of different transport routes; optimising the cost of transportation; studying the transport policies and taxes of various countries to minimize the costs and maximise benefits.
Political Economics: As a Political Economist, you won't be wearing khadi and making eloquent speeches. Instead, you'll study different political systems of the world, the emergence of trade polices in various countries, relation between political systems and labour economy, market economy, consumers behaviour, spending patterns of consumers, monetary policies and financial system, trade barriers, investment trends, etc.
Econometrics: You'll deal with economic models and calculations, study relations between two or more variables and develop models for economic forecasting and analysis. Econometrics is also a subject in any curriculum course in Economics.
If you actually burn the midnight oil and put your mind to that much study, your job scope as an Economist HAS to be out of the ordinary.
The Indian Economic Service: If you are eyeing the security of a government job, this is it. As an officer in this department you'll study, survey, and analyse various economic parameters of the Indian economy and basically make life easier for the policy makers in the Indian government.
Banks: As a Financial Economist in a bank your job would be to study and analyse credit and monetary polices to predict trends in the financial sector. Cost of fund to the bank, the effects of changing monetary policies on the business of the bank, trends in consumer banking, capital budgeting, credit policies, cash flow and all related money matters of the bank will be routed through you.
If you have done well academically you'll find yourself in global banks like World Bank, Asian Development or in Multinational Banks like Citibank, Grindlays Bank, ABN Amro Bank, Standard & Chartered Bank, American Express Bank, etc. in managerial positions.
Corporate Organisations: These have their own economics department, which advises several other departments and the top managers in making effective business decisions.
Marketing Research Department of corporate organisations: Employ fresh economics graduates as trainees.
Business/Economic Journal, Newspaper or News agency: If you want your findings and writing to be viewed by not just your boss, but half of humanity, this is your place. Well known economists like Swami Nathan, P. Chidambaram, Man Mohan Singh and Bhabatosh Dutta are invited to write columns in newspapers and journals. Rajdeep Sardesai of Star News is an economist. All the editors of leading business dailies like The Economics Times have been reputed Economists.
Development and Cooperative Banks: Asian Development Bank at Manila, World Bank at New York or its branch offices and various state cooperative banks employ Economists.
Export Promotion Councils: Established by the government to promote exports, this department employs Economists to study trade polices of different countries, trends of international trade, cost economies, transport economies, market trends, etc.
Research Institutions and University Departments: Organisations like CMIE (Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy), NCAER (National Council for Applied Economic Research), etc. in both the government and private sector utilise the services of an Economist for research.
Government Jobs: Departments and agencies like Census and autonomous institutions like insurance companies, Labour Commissioner's directorate, Planning and development organisations, etc. need Economists.
Non-governmental Organisations (NGO): Here as an Economist you will work in the field of population control, healthcare, poverty eradication, etc.
Other Opportunities: Jobs are available in the defence services to analyse comparative spending on defence by different countries, analyse the optimum use of resources on a warfront, etc.
With logistics companies to study the shortest and the cheapest mode of transport, cost-benefit analysis of various modes of transport, etc.
With a pharmaceutical company to analyse the cost-benefit ratio of various medicines, analysis of prescriptions of medical practioners, etc.
• First of all, just look at the increase in the number of private sector banks in India. We have more than 65 private sector banks. There is an ever-increasing demand for economist in these banks.
• Secondly, as more and more corporate organisations are expanding the scopes of their strategic planning functions, it's easier finding your way into these corporate houses.
• The world is moving towards a knowledge-based economy, so more knowledge would mean more wealth. Various media houses and agencies are developing proprietary knowledge based materials in the field of business and economics. So there are opportunities for you.
• With the mushrooming of various educational institutions and university departments offering management and other professional courses the need for Economic faculty is on the upswing.
• Intense global competition is forcing major corporate organisations to depend more on research to make intelligent business decisions. As such the need for basic economic research is paramount and so the need for Economists.
Abilities & Traits Required
• Excellent sense of reasoning
• Ability to gather and understand complex information from various sources
• Above average numerical abilities
• Excellent communication skill
• Meticulous or careful
• Above average interpersonal skills
• Inquisitive and explorative mind
• Excellent ability to study, understand, remember and even apply scientific facts and theories to real life
• Patience, perseverance and determination
• Should do well in all exams right from secondary school to Masters Degree examination scoring at least 60 per cent aggregate and more than 70 per cent in the science subjects
One can study Economics at an undergraduate level as BA/BSc with Economics, BCom or BBA. If you think a Masters degree in Economics is a lot of studies then don’t waste your time reading any further.
That's the minimum requirement to make a good start in this field. Of course, a PhD will be the top of the tops. You see, Economics, be it theoretical or applied, is a research-based field. Economists spend their entire professional lives just studying and researching.
As an Economist, you can also do a PhD/Fellowship in Management in the field of Managerial Economics or Applied Economics for a good career in research. Even a Masters degree in Business Economics is not bad. MSc (Agriculture) students can also specialise in Agricultural Economics for a career as an Agricultural Economist.
Talking about Economics, how can we forget the moolah?
Well, it depends on your qualifications and the kind of organisation you get into.
• MSc /MA in Economics: Rs 15000 - 18000 a month, except in a faculty position in a university or institute
• Lecturer in a university, institute, or college: Rs 18000 a month to begin with
• PhD: Rs 20000 - 22000
• NGOs: Rs 15000 - 17000 per month in the beginning
• Salaries in the corporate and private sector banks: Rs 20000 - 25000 a month for beginners
• 4-5 years of experience: Rs 40000 - 60000 a month