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Thread: What kinds of non-academic careers can economics PhD's do?

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    What kinds of non-academic careers can economics PhD's do?

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    I'm curious. I like backup plans. Last semester, I worked as a math instructional assistant, helping with grading, tutoring, and generally helping the class run smoothly. I really enjoyed this job. I'm currently working as a grader, which I enjoy less, but I'm plenty capable of doing it. Currently I have to put in extra hours to combat cheating though.

    Anyway, I am curious as to what other career options are out there. I like to keep my options open.

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    Non-academic career for Economics PhD is usually (very briefly):
    - private sector (consulting, research in private companies etc; there are also lots of positions in financial sector)
    - government, NGOs, international organizations, think tanks (lots of kinds of jobs related to economic research, analysis or consulting)

    Also look here to get some idea (search for non-academic jobs): http://www.aeaweb.org/joe/listings.php
    Last edited by oleador; 06-14-2010 at 06:49 PM. Reason: added more info

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    Your mind makes it real AppliedEcon's Avatar
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    From the US Occupational Outlook Handbook:

    Individuals with a background in economics should have opportunities in various occupations. Some examples of job titles often held by those with an economics background are financial analyst, market analyst, public policy consultant, researcher or research assistant, and purchasing manager
    .

    It should be noted that a master's degree is sufficient for most of these positions.
    Attending Maryland AREC

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    Government all levels. People simply think of IMF/FED/World Bank, but Deptarments of the Federal government hire quite a few especially Labor, Federal Reserve. Work for private corporations doing Econometric Analysis or NGOs. My understanding is, But I'm not sure this is 100% true since I'm using anecdotal evidence. The type of work your doing is lower level than academia. Your generally given data sets and expected to run regressions. You probably could do most of this as an ABD, but the PhD gives you a sort of management credentials. You'll likely be leading a team of people with M.A. or undergraduate degrees.

    Jobs are somewhat field dependent. Applied Micro especially I/O, Finance is better for private sector jobs. Government Jobs of course Macro/Labor/Metrics/ and Ag econ. I think Health and Enviro are on the rise for private/public sector.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanashi View Post
    The type of work your doing is lower level than academia..
    Not necessarily true in a Fed research department.
    Attending University of Washington

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    Fed Research Department/IMF/World Bank are the exception to what I am stating.

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    The speaker at our Economics Commencement was the head economist at Google. So, I'm guessing along with the financial sector ... pretty much every large tech company would have a chief economist?

    But, I was under the general impression that in most cases economists with a PhD from not highly regarded schools are usually the ones that enter the private sector -- as getting placed at a big research university would not be an option.

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    Google's Chief Econoomist Hal Varian who wrote the leading Intermediate text, and the leading graduate text in Economics for the longest time. He's also a big name among business intellectuals and had a long running NYT column, and presence in business news. He also has been a professor at both Michigan, Berkley, and go knows where else. Bottom line not a typical example of economists in the private sector. I doubt he does the jobs the rest of google's economist do, and he is probably more of an advisor than anything else.

    I have not gotten cleared info on whether private sector takes a lot of economists from lower ranked schools. From what I see lower ranked schools place a lot of economists as faculty at smaller universities that aren't predominately for research. The private sector seems to like failures from top ranked schools.

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    Consulting (the absorbing state of economics) firms and other private sector jobs typically hire from the bottom 2/3 of highly ranked Ph.D. programs. Graduates from lower ranked places are more likely to end up at teaching jobs.

    Obviously this a generalization with considerable exceptions in both directions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanashi View Post
    Google's Chief Econoomist Hal Varian who wrote the leading Intermediate text, and the leading graduate text in Economics for the longest time. He's also a big name among business intellectuals and had a long running NYT column, and presence in business news. He also has been a professor at both Michigan, Berkley, and go knows where else. Bottom line not a typical example of economists in the private sector. I doubt he does the jobs the rest of google's economist do, and he is probably more of an advisor than anything else.

    I have not gotten cleared info on whether private sector takes a lot of economists from lower ranked schools. From what I see lower ranked schools place a lot of economists as faculty at smaller universities that aren't predominately for research. The private sector seems to like failures from top ranked schools.
    Google is a bit of an outlier; most tech companies do have chief economists but they're rarely so famous.

    More importantly, the lower-ranked half of a cohort on the job market from a top-ranked school does not consist of failures. Getting that PhD means doing the work to the standards of a prestigious institution, and these people might be bound for their dream job in the private sector. A business would almost never hire an individual it perceived to be a "failure." Maybe when you meet the intelligent people in this category you'll understand.

    Finally, from what I have learned from a friend working as an economist for a power company: whether a particular business (or government agency, for that matter) targets the high- or low-ranked schools depends a lot on preferences of the hirer. There will be a few that only look at the top 5, others that look only at local schools regardless of the ranking, and still others that look for strong outliers at the low-ranked places. Consulting firms in particular tend to prefer graduates from highly-ranked places, perhaps because of the prestige bias.

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