Department of Economics at Illinois State University Department of Economics at Illinois State University Department of Economics at Illinois State University

Career Opportunities

Generalizations about the work of an economist with a master's degree in economics are difficult because economists are employed in such a wide range of organizations and work on so many different problems. The largest employers of economists are in the following industries:

  • securities, investments, banking and insurance
  • telecommunications, energy and public utilities
  • Federal, state and local government
  • consulting and business services

A career in business economics is also a popular route to top management. Indeed, the National Association of Business Economists (NABE) reports that economics is the second most common background (after engineering) among today's CEOs.

In a 1996 survey (most recent available), the NABE reports that the median starting salary for individuals with a master's degree in economics was $35,005. Starting salaries in St. Louis and Chicago were among the highest in the nation. The median annual base salary of all business economists with a master's degree was $65,500.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of economists is expected to grow at about the same rate as all occupations through the year 2006. Relative to other degree holders in economics, the Department of Labor concludes that the employment outlook is best for individuals with a master's degree. Prospects are expected to be especially strong for positions in business, research, and consulting firms that seek individuals with strong computer and quantitative skills, but do not command the high salary of a Ph.D. The Department of Labor further projects a growing need for economic analysis in "virtually every industry," a need that will increase the demand for individuals trained in economics and with strong computer and quantitative skills.


The Department, its alumni, and the University Placement Office work together to assist students with finding suitable employment upon graduation. Alumni of the Department hold senior executive positions in industry and government, both in the United States and abroad.

Representative companies include State Farm Insurance, Motorola, Arthur Anderson, and the Korean Labor Institute. In Education, graduates who went on to earn doctorates at other universities now hold positions at such institutions as the University of Minnesota and Georgetown University.

For graduates who have specialized in the Electricity, Natural Gas, and Telecommunications Sequence, placements have been made with the Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources, the Illinois Commerce Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, the Texas Public Utility Commission, Commonwealth Edison, Cinergy, Illinois Power Company, New York State Electric & Gas, Boston Edison, and others.