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Professional Qualifications for an Economist

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Economists study data and trends to make economic forecasts on interest rates, inflation, taxes, costs and business cycles. The economist can work for a business, government agency or research firms to provide analysis. An economist must meet educational qualifications and possess the necessary skills to work in the field.

Degree Requirements

Most employers require a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in economics to obtain a position as an economist. Economists working in a government agency can begin an entry-level position with a bachelor’s degree education. The Federal government requires entry-level economists to have at least 21 hours of economics courses and three hours of accounting, statistics or advanced mathematics. Advanced degrees in economics may also require a research project, which provides the student with experience in the field.

Research Skills

Economists must have a strong attention to detail and advanced research skills. The individual must analyze data carefully to create forecasts for the employer. Research skills for economists include the ability to think critically and solve problems. The economist must use creativity and logic when researching data to provide detailed analysis for an employer. The individual also must have the ability to weigh and evaluate data and its significance.


Economists can gain experience with entry-level positions in a government agency while studying for an advanced position. As the economist works in the position, the research projects and tasks become more complex. Government agencies may require a combination of education and experience to work in the position. Advanced positions with employers also require experience in addition to education.

Job Skills

Economists must have verbal and written communication skills to work in the field. An economist must have the ability to communicate technical and complex information in a non-technical manner. Computer skills also assist the economist in research and data analysis. Economists may work alone for long periods, which requires time management skills. The economist must have strong math skills to analyze data as well.


Luanne Kelchner works out of Daytona Beach, Florida and has been freelance writing full time since 2008. Her ghostwriting work has covered a variety of topics but mainly focuses on health and home improvement articles. Kelchner has a degree from Southern New Hampshire University in English language and literature.

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