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Career Opportunities in Economics

Xavier V K

EconomicsEconomics is a social science that deals with the understanding of production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. Further, it is the study of how demand and supply make allocation of scarce resources to satisfy our wants. The progress of a nation depends on the progress of its economy, which generates income and improves standards of living of people.

Economics is hailed as the king of social sciences. Economics is one of the six fields which carry the Nobel Prize. Prof. Amartya Kumar Sen of India won the Prize in 1998. Among the social sciences, it is Economics which offers a wide variety of career options.

How economists can shape the destiny of a nation is tersely stated by John Maynard Keynes: “Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back”.

The political agenda of all nations, mainly comprises economic issues. Today, economists often are in the forefront of debate on domestic and international political economy.

Teaching

Teaching and research continue to offer satisfying career opportunities. With the establishment of a large number of management institutions (including University Departments of management studies) the demand for Teachers in Economics has been increasing. Teaching positions in Universities require clearing the UGC National Eligibility Test (NET) or SLET.

Research

As regards research careers there are several institutions such as the Planning Commission, Economic Affairs Dept of the Union Ministry of Finance, National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), Institute of Applied Manpower Research and NIPFP, New Delhi, IGIDR, Mumbai, and ISEC, Bangalore, offer research positions. Reserve Bank of India also recruits research economists through its Recruitment Board. RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan is an Economist.

Indian Economic Service

The UPSC conducts an annual competitive examination to recruit economists for the Indian Economic Service (IES). The IES and RBI services are excellent options open to those who want to join government service.

Government Organizations

Some of the government organizations offering jobs for Economists are:

1.       Reserve Bank of India

2.       National Sample Survey Organization

3.       Economic Affairs Dept. of Union Ministry of Finance

4.       Planning Board

5.       Planning Commission

6.       NIPFP

7.       NCAER

International Career opportunities

Most of the experts working in the UN bodies like IMF, WB, UNDP, UNIDO, FAO, IFPRI, Asian Development Bank are economists. These International organizations offer prestigious jobs for Economists.

Banking

Economists occupy vantage positions in all types of banks (both public and private sector banks), insurance companies, as well as all other financial institutions. Graduates can apply as probationary officers in banks. Banks regularly notify these jobs in the newspapers and candidates have to clear the competitive examination. Probationary officers and clerical jobs in banks give great opportunity later in one’s career growth as branch managers and senior executives.

State Bank of India is the leading bank in the banking sector. As of 31.3.2013, SBI alone employs 2, 28, 296 staff in its 14, 816 branches spread across the country. In addition, there are five state bank groups, twenty public sector banks, and twenty private sector banks, and forty-one foreign banks operating in India.

Insurance Companies

Insurance companies recruit economic graduates as marketing executives and risk analysts. Life Insurance Corporation is a great recruiter for economist jobs. Four public sector general insurance companies are United India Insurance, Oriental Insurance, New India Assurance and National Insurance. They recruit economist graduates as officers and clerical jobs. They have great job promotion opportunities.

Non- Banking, Financial Institutions

Non-banking financial institutions providing financial products and services are good places for economic graduates to work. Investment bankers such as IFCI and credit rating Agencies such as CRISIL, ICRA, Asset Management Companies and mutual funds, Depositories such as NDSL and CDSL, Depository Participant broking companies and pension funds offer great job opportunities to economic graduates. Regulators of these non-banking financial institutions such as the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Association of Mutual Funds India (AMFI), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), and Pension Fund Regulatory Authority (PFRA) recruit economics graduates for their intermediary functions.

Scientists

No wonder that an economic graduate can become a Scientist. Agricultural Scientist Recruitment Board recruits Scientists from Economics background who have passed Master’s Degree in Economics with specialization in Agricultural Economics.

Media

With the proliferation of Economics and business journals, magazines and newspapers, Economic journalism has emerged as a potential area of career opportunity, e.g. The Economic Times, Business Today, Business Lines, etc. A degree in Economics followed by a degree in journalism and mass communication would open up such opportunities not only in the print media but also on television. However, the more ambitious students of Economics can go for MBA degrees offered by many institutions.

Private Sector Jobs

Economics graduates can enjoy well-paid job prospects in the private sector as well. Many private firms recruit candidates for Economic Consulting positions. E.g. CMIE, Tata Economic Consultancy Services, etc. Even private banks and insurance companies recruit economics graduates and if they have good knowledge in commodity markets, money and capital markets, they can even become investment consultants. In the growing mutual funds market, Economic Analysts are required in larger numbers for making effective investment decision making.

The Economist

If you are seeking career opportunities in economics in overseas organizations, then perhaps the best source of information on vacancies is The Economist Magazine.

Higher Studies

Those who are interested in higher studies and research can choose M. Phil and Ph.D. which will help them take higher positions in both public and private sectors. They can also take up teaching as a career and pursue jobs as professors/lecturers in colleges, other professional institutions and even Universities.

Emerging Areas in Economics

At advanced levels, econometric and quantitative economics have always been essential parts of the subject. The emerging fields of economics include behavioral economics and risk management of which financial risk management has plenty of applications in banking and insurance industry. Students consistently scoring well in economics at UG level have lots of opportunities for seeking foreign scholarships for admission to advanced studies in high-profile overseas universities / institutes such as LSE and MIT.

Remuneration

In the age of liberalization and globalization economists are always supposed to get high salary in both public and private sectors. In colleges, Universities and government sectors, almost all employees of Economics discipline are paid higher, especially after the Sixth Pay Commission was implemented. In the case of the private sector, remuneration is often higher. Economic consultants are also earning good returns depending upon the number of their clients.

Xavier V K, Associate Professor in Economics, Christ University, Bangalore.