How do I Become a Labor Economist?

Nicole Long

Labor economists evaluate various aspects of the labor market, such as wages and the supply of labor. Becoming a labor economist requires an appropriate mix of coursework, practice, and experience. Coursework to become a labor economist includes business, social science, economics, and labor economics coursework.

Labor economists have expertise in unemployment trends and wage patterns.
Labor economists have expertise in unemployment trends and wage patterns.

Specifically, labor economists focus on how the labor market works and the various factors that may influence the marketplace. This can include following hiring trends in specific industries, taking a look at trends in unemployment, and tracking wage patterns over time. Beyond studying the trends and analyzing information, labor economists also provide feedback and suggestions on how businesses and organizations can compete in the current labor market while maintaining profitability.

At the end of the individual study, a student typically will present a dissertation with their findings.
At the end of the individual study, a student typically will present a dissertation with their findings.

Before entering college, those wanting to become a labor economist should take coursework that will benefit them in college and in their careers. This includes focusing on mathematics classes, such as algebra and calculus. Advanced coursework in mathematics is preferred. In addition, coursework focusing on business operations will be helpful.

College coursework will consist of core requirements along with basic economics classes. Core requirements typically include coursework in mathematics, statistics, and psychology or other social sciences. Basic economics classes will include an introduction to economic theory, microeconomics, and macroeconomics.

Progression through different levels of coursework in economics will be required to become a labor economist. Advanced economics classes can include econometrics and economic analysis coursework focused on using various computer programs for data compilation and analysis. Additional coursework will include intermediate level courses in microeconomics and macroeconomics.

Those looking to become a labor economist will need to take classes geared towards labor economics. These classes are usually taken in your final year of college. They include classes in labor market analysis, social policy, game theory, and labor economics principles. In addition, individual study under the direction of a labor economics professor can provide college credit while investigating specific labor economics problems and issues. At the end of the individual study, a student typically will present a dissertation with their findings.

Internships during college can also help someone along on the path to become a labor economist. Working within the private or public sector, with either corporations or governmental agencies, can give students a hands-on experience with real world issues and problems involving the labor market. This can include assisting labor economists with collecting and analyzing data or performing research on current trends in the labor market.

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