What can I do with a degree in Economics?
Every day, people and society are confronted by choices. Should you go to university or start a career? What should you do with your next dollar? Should the government raise the minimum wage, or not? Choices involve tradeoffs where we are choosing between two things that we like. The outcomes of choices have both costs and benefits to consider. Economics is the study of how people and societies make such decisions in the production, exchange, distribution and consumption of goods and services.
Through their Economics degree, graduates develop a valuable set of skills that are transferable to a range of careers. These skills include:
- Logical and quantitative thinking
- Numerical confidence
- Interpretive and analytical skills
- Problem solving skills
- Lateral and strategic thinking
- Practical application of economic concepts and principles
- Computing techniques.
Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available in this major through work-integrated learning (eg, consulting projects, internships) and international study tours. These experiences deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge, and employability.
Graduates in Economics find employment in many areas of government and business. Professional economists are employed to conduct research and advise on economic matters in various organisations from brokerage services to marketing agencies.
Recent UC graduates have been employed in:
- Government eg, Treasury, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Public Trust, Ministry of Transport, and Statistics New Zealand
- Banking and financial services eg, ANZ, ASB, Murray & Co, China Citic Bank, Lloyds, Macquarie Group, St George Bank, Kiwibank
- Audit, tax and advisory services eg, KPMG, New Zealand Tax Refunds, PWC, Deloitte
- Construction eg, Fletcher EQR, Downer
- Agribusiness eg, Fonterra, Global Dairy Network
- Oil and gas eg, Shell Todd Oil Services, New Zealand Oil & Gas, Petronas
- Telecommunications eg, Spark, Orion
- IT eg, Jade Software
- Insurance eg, IAG
- Trade commissions eg, New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association
- Legal firms eg, Buddle Findlay, Russell McVeagh
- Major business enterprises eg, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Harcourts Grenadier, Porsche
- Research eg, NZ Institute of Economic Research
- Education eg, secondary schools, universities.
Due to their transferable skills, Economics majors are able to take on a wide range of roles from actuary or analyst to risk consultant or researcher — see some examples below.
Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.
- Collects and analyses economic information
- Predicts economic trends
- Makes recommendations and advises organisations or government
Financial and business analyst
- Gathers financial information and data
- Uses analytical models to identify trends
- Helps clients with planning and problem solving
- Manages customer queries
- Advises individuals and businesses on their financial needs and what services are available
- Processes paperwork and updates details
- Provides strategic advice and specialist knowledge to meet a client’s financial goals
- Assists clients to increase profits, manage debts, raise capital and secure deals
- Works with other professionals eg, lawyers
Policy analyst / advisor
- Identifies and investigates issues and opportunities eg, in society, law or governance
- Interprets and consults on existing policies
- Prepares reports and recommends changes
Insurance actuary or underwriter
- Examines risk to set optimal insurance settings
- Advises company in order to ensure viability of insurance products
Secondary school teacher
- Plans and delivers instructional lessons
- Evaluates performance and provides feedback
- Sets and marks assignments and tests
Pricing / retail analyst
- Researches pricing information
- Analyses production costs to set sale prices
- Advises how to lower costs and increase profits
Marketing consultant / advisor
- Collects and analyses market insight
- Prepares and implements marketing plans
- Works with others to promote goods or services
Research analyst / advisor / assistant
- Organises and conducts research surveys
- Tests theories and interprets the results
- Writes reports and makes recommendations
Entrepreneur and CEO
- Develops an idea to form their own business
- Gets involved in a start-up Entrepreneurship and innovation are an increasing part of the working landscape.
Get started with Entrepreneurship here
As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies or organisations relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with others in a community.
- New Zealand Association of Economists
- Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce
- National Association for Business Economics
- New Zealand Bankers Association
Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep up-to-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.