Economists perform economic research and analysis, and develop and apply theories relating to the production and distribution of goods and services and people's spending behaviour. Economists advise and provide forecasts to governments and businesses on matters such as taxation levels, wages and prices, employment and unemployment, imports and exports, and interest and exchange rates. They investigate international or national economic situations, or particular features such as industries or regions.
To become an economist you usually have to complete a degree in economics at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English and mathematics are normally required. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in economics. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.
Economists may perform the following tasks:
Economists are employed by federal, state or territory government departments; employer organisations and trade unions; financial institutions (such as banks and insurance companies); other commercial organisations; and private consulting firms. Competition for available positions is strong and postgraduate study is recommended to improve employment prospects. Graduates often find work in administration, management and marketing. The demand for economists depends on the level of government and private research and analysis, as well as economic activity levels.
An applied industry economist studies the economic aspects of industry structure and performance, specialising in sectors such as agriculture or manufacturing.
An econometrician uses economic theories, statistical methods and forecasting techniques to develop models. They feed data on possible future economic situations into models to see the likely results and wider implications of particular actions and advise industry or government on possible costs resulting from their policy decisions.
An environmental economist studies the environmental impact of projects and advises industry and government on environmental and natural resource management regulations. They also advise on the government's responsibilities in terms of international agreements and treaties about the environment.
A financial economist advises on investment and lending policies by studying economic trends and policy. They study the effects of government legislation and policy change on the financial system, and evaluate the economic and financial aspects of investment projects by preparing financial models and budget plans.
A labour market economist studies the economic aspects of proposed government policy and its possible effects on the labour market. They recommend improvements in techniques for settling labour disputes and related problems to government agencies, business organisations or industrial groups. They study matters such as labour legislation, unemployment benefits, industrial accident provisions, education, collective bargaining, trade unions and industrial factors, and their impact on the labour market.
A resource economist analyses policy and issues related to natural resource industries such as minerals, fisheries and forestry. This includes supply and demand of resources and how their extraction affects the environment.
A taxation economist studies sources of government income, the methods of expenditure and the effect of taxation and fiscal policy upon national income and overall business activity.
A transport economist studies the efficiency, financial organisation and interaction of systems such as railways, air transport, shipping, trucks, buses and cars. They examine the allocation of private and government resources to transport systems and the implications of fuel production and importation. They also study the effects of regulation, development and the application of demand models, as well as analyse the implications of investment proposals in the transport industry.