Economics is a social science that studies how individuals, businesses and communities solve the problem of allocating or distributing resources such as goods, services, money, labour, knowledge, time and capital. There are very few aspects of our lives that cannot be analysed from an economic perspective; it’s a field of study and work that appeals to many.

An economics degree or an economics major as part of a general degree (Arts or Commerce, for example) is highly valued in many professions and industries. Opportunities for economics graduates (or those with an economics component to their degree) are particularly strong in banking and finance, business analysis, law, journalism and public policy.

Economists work in the private and public sectors. Work in the former often involves analysis of developments in domestic and international markets, while work in the latter is more likely to focus on the role of government in policy and regulation of markets.

Economists may perform the following tasks: research and analyse the production and distribution of goods and services; formulate government economic policies and provide advice in relation to specific economic issues; assess the impact of monetary policies, expenditure and taxation on economic conditions; identify opportunities to improve efficiency and international competitiveness; prepare forecasts and analyse trends; and provide recommendations on specific economic issues.

Federal government departments and agencies that regularly recruit economics graduates include: Reserve Bank of Australia, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Treasury, Productivity Commission and Australian National Audit Office.

There are also international opportunities for economics graduates. Agencies such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund all require economists for their core activities.

(This profile also appears in GCA’s annual Graduate Opportunities directory. GCA would like to thank the Reserve Bank of Australia for assistance with this industry profile.)

What you need

  • Economics degree or economics major within a general degree (e.g. Arts, Commerce)
  • Strong analytical, quantitative and mathematical skills
  • Data processing and statistical modelling skills
  • Computer science training beneficial

Graduate salary ranges for selected relevant occupations are as follows:

  • Economist: $46,200–$54,500
  • Financial advisor/manager: $44,000–$60,000
  • Intelligence/policy analyst: $45,000–$54,000
  • Management/organisation analyst: $48,000–$65,000

(Figures taken from from the Australian Graduate Survey 2008, GCA. Ranges refer to the middle 50 per cent of salaries for bachelor degree graduates with permanent residency, in full-time employment in Australia October 2007 to April 2008.)

Industry at a glance

  • 88% employed full time (economists)
  • 52 years median age (economists)
  • Declining outlook (decline for economists, 2010–14)


Further Resources

Reserve Bank of Australia