Career Resources

Career Overview

Current Growth Occupations

Majoring in Economics helps you develop important skills, including critical thinking and analytical reasoning. These general skills are valuable for any decision and any job or occupation. Thus, a degree in Economics provides you with the flexibility to adapt in a changing environment and take advantage of new opportunities. A degree in Economics is excellent preparation for a variety of careers and occupations. Individuals who want to be competitive in today's job market need to be ready and able to adapt as our economy evolves and grows.

The ability to critically evaluate problems and identify workable solutions is particularly important. To be successful, individuals need to be able to access and process information from a variety of sources and apply that information to specific problems using a variety of analytical tools. A quick glance at the partial list of the fastest growing occupations projected to have the largest numerical increases in employment between 2004 and 2014, by level of post secondary education or training presented below confirms this.

The Economics major is particularly well suited to prepare you for the career challenges in the twenty-first century by helping you develop important skills:

  • Applying a general framework of analysis for solving "real-world" problems
  • Conduct mathematical and statistical analysis
  • Work with data to address specific issues
  • Effectively communicate, in written and oral form, with others

Related Occupations Based on Degree

Bachelor's degree

  • Network systems and data communications analysts
  • Physician assistants
  • Computer software engineers, applications
  • Computer software engineers, systems software
  • Network and computer systems administrators
  • Elementary school teachers, except special education
  • Accountants and auditors
  • Computer software engineers, applications
  • Computer systems analysts
  • Secondary school teachers, except special and vocational education

Bachelor's or higher degree, plus work experience

  • Education administrators, preschool and childcare center/program
  • Computer and information systems managers
  • Training and development managers
  • Actuaries
  • Medical and health services managers
  • General and operations managers
  • Management analysts
  • Financial managers
  • Computer and information systems managers
  • Sales managers

Career Experiences of Economic Graduates

An Economics degree qualifies students for a variety of careers. Based on Departmental surveys, approximately half our graduating majors begin their careers in management-oriented, general entry-level positions in business. Of the remainder, one-quarter obtain sales positions, one-eighth work in research positions in business and government and one-tenth are employed in computer-related positions. The following is a partial list of job titles and employers of recent Illinois State graduates who majored in Economics.

Job Title/Employer

Consultant/American Management Systems
Consultant/Ernst and Young, LLP
Consultant/Hewitt Associates
Project Manager/Agracel, Inc.
Programmer/Anderson Consulting
Personal Banker/Success National Bank
Pricing Management Rep./Baxter International
Senior Credit Underwriter/Household International
Claim Processor/State Farm Insurance
Stockbroker/L.C. Wegard Co.
Loan Officer/Windsor Mortgage, Inc.
Account Executive/American Teletronics
Investment Rep./Investment Centers of America
Sales Rep./C. Ruffolo & Sons Corporation

Data Processing Specialist II/State Farm Ins.
Trader Assistant/Chicago Partnership Board
Closing Clerk/First of America Mortgage Co.
Account Coordinator/Wyle Laboratories
Trade Coordinator/Chicago Stock Exchange
Market Reporter/Chicago Mercantile Exchange
Tax Analyst/Forsythe McArthur Associates Inc.
Claims Rep./State Farm Insurance
Vice President of Operations/Reliable Office Superstore
Administrator/New York State Electric and Gas Corp.
Building Cost Analyst/Abbott Laboratories
Human Resources Assistant/Target
Benefit Consultant/Hewitt Associates
Assoc. Benefits Adjuster/Trustmark Ins. Co.

A degree in Economics is also excellent preparation for post-graduate study in a variety of fields. Many students with an undergraduate degree in Economics go on to earn their MBA. Other students pursue a master’s or Ph.D. in Economics or a related field such as Finance. An Economics degree is excellent preparation for law school. Many law schools around the country offer courses in Law and Economics and have added one or more Ph.D. economists to their faculty. Regarding earnings potential, a study by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics examined the median income levels of people ages 25-64 with various undergraduate degrees, using salary data for 1993. Among men, economics majors had the seventh highest median income. Among women, economic majors had the highest median income.

Median Incomes of Mid-Career Men and Women with Bachelor’s Degrees

Men income Women income
Engineering $53,286 Economics $49,170
Mathematics $51,584 Engineering $49,070
Computer and Info. Sciences $50,509 Pharmacy $48,427
Pharmacy $50,480 Architecture $46,353
Physics $50,128 Computer and Info. Sciences $43,757
Accounting $49,500 All Mid-Career Women $32,115
Economics $49,377
All Mid-Career Men $43,199

To put these figures in perspective, consider that in 1993, the median income of year-round full-time workers was $31,077 for men and $22,469 for women. Median household income was approximately $36,959.

A National Association of Business Economists’ survey reported the following median starting salaries for business economists at different education levels: Bachelor’s, $29,005; Master’s degree, $35,005; Ph.D., $45,015; Average $35,005 (National Association of Business Economists, Salary Characteristics, 1996, Table 15). The Economics department at Illinois State routinely surveys its graduates to learn about their employment and earnings experiences. According to the results of those surveys, starting salaries for undergraduate majors in Economics at Illinois State are comparable to those reported by the NABE.

Career-Related Concentrations in Economics

It's never too soon to start thinking about your career goals and planning accordingly. In today's competitive job market it is important to distinguish yourself from your peers. Solid academic performance, involvement in extracurricular activities, and work-related experience are all significant on your résumé. It's also important to get the most from the variety of courses you take in the process of completing your degree requirements.

You need only 31-33 hours of specific courses for an undergraduate degree in Economics, i.e., about 28 percent of the minimum 120 hours needed to graduate from Illinois State University. Consequently, even after accounting for General Education requirements, you have a considerable amount of flexibility with respect to additional courses you might take. We strongly urge you to seriously consider a second major or minor as a way to expand your career possibilities and distinguish yourself from your peers. Approximately 25 percent of the Economics majors at Illinois State are double majors. The list of majors students most frequently combine with their Economics major includes Accounting, Applied Computer Science, Business Administration, Finance, Marketing, and Political Science. Approximately 150 students are currently minoring in Economics. Most of these students are majoring in one of the areas just listed.

Students who are not sure what they want to do once they graduate should nonetheless take courses that preserve a wide range of career options. Given the types of jobs in which undergraduates with a major in Economics traditionally find themselves, we strongly recommend courses in accounting, applied computer science, business administration, finance, marketing, mathematics, and statistics. At a minimum, you should take courses to satisfy the requirements of the major and minimum number of hours for a degree that complement one another.

The description of the Economics major in the Illinois State University Undergraduate Catalog identifies seven specific concentrations students might consider when majoring in Economics. These concentration include Business Economics, Electricity, Natural Gas and Telecommunications Economics, Graduate School Preparation, Human Resources, International Economics, Pre-Law, and Public Policy. Students who want to pursue a career in one of these areas should take as many courses in the relevant concentration as their schedule permits. The following is a more extensive list of concentrations that you might consider, including courses offered by the Economics department and other departments at Illinois State.

Suggested Concentrations for the Undergraduate Major in Economics:

Economics Electives

  • ECO 215: Money and Banking
  • ECO 239: Managerial Economics
  • ECO 320: Industrial Organization
  • ECO 339: Organizational Economics

Additional Electives

  • ACC 131: Financial Accounting
  • ACC 132: Managerial Accounting
  • FIL 185: Legal, Ethical and Soc. Env.of Bus.
  • FIL 240: Business Finance
  • FIL 241: Financial Markets
  • ITK 168: Structured Problems Solving Using The Computer

Economics Electives

  • ECO 225: Labor Economics and Labor Problems
  • ECO 239: Managerial Economics
  • ECO 326: Economics of Human Resources

Additional Electives

  • FIL 313: Labor Law
  • MQM 220: Business Organization and Mgmt
  • MQM 323: Human Resources Management
  • MQM 324: Industrial Relations Management
  • MQM 352: Recruitment and Selection
  • MQM 354: Compensation Management
  • POS 331: Human Resource Management
  • POS 372: Employment Law
  • PSY 230: Business and Industrial Psychology
  • PSY 375 Personnel Psychology
  • SOA 255: Sociology of Work and Occupations
  • SOA 264: Minority Relations

Economics Electives

  • ECO 235: Telecom. Econ. and Pub. Policy
  • ECO 236: Energy Economics
  • ECO 239: Managerial Economics
  • ECO 320: Industrial Organization
  • ECO 335: Econ.of Regulation and Antitrust
  • ECO 339: Organizational Economics

Additional Electives

  • FIL 240: Business Finance
  • FIL 242: Investments
  • FIL 347: Fin.Futures, Options and Swaps

Economics Electives

  • ECO 205: Developmental Economics
  • ECO 245: The International Economy
  • ECO 345: International Trade
  • ECO 346: International Finance

Additional Electives

  • INB 190: Introduction to International Business
  • MQM 350: International Management
  • POS 151: Introduction to International Relations
  • Proficiency in a foreign language

Additional Electives

  • ENG 249: Technical and Prof. Writing I
  • MAT 146: Calculus II
  • MAT 147: Calculus III
  • MAT 175: Elementary Linear Algebra
  • MAT 350: Applied Probability Models
  • MAT 351: Statistics and Data Analysis
  • MAT 353: Regression and Time Series Anal.
  • MAT 356: Statistical Computing

Economics Electives

  • ECO 220: Law and Economics
  • ECO 235: Telecommunications Economics
  • ECO 320: Industrial Organization
  • ECO 335: Economics of Regulation and Antitrust

Additional Electives

  • COM 202: Persuasive Public Speaking
  • ENG 249: Technical and Prof. Writing I
  • ENG 349: Technical and Prof. Writing II
  • FIL 185: Legal, Ethical and Soc. Envir.of.Bus.
  • FIL 209: Business Law I
  • FIL 211: Business Law II
  • POS 215: U.S. Judicial Process
  • POS 216: Introduction to Torts
  • POS 283: Trial Advocacy
  • POS 318: Administrative Law
  • POS 325: Const. Law: Functions and Powers
  • POS 326: Constitutional Law: Due Process Rights

Economics Electives

  • ECO 215: Money and Banking
  • ECO 346: International Finance

Additional Electives

  • FIL 240: Business Finance
  • FIL 241: Financial Markets
  • FIL 242: Investments
  • FIL 347: Fin. Futures, Options and Swaps