According to the National Center for Educational Statistics for the academic year 2009-10, the most popular degrees were in fields of business. A total of 358,000 bachelor’s degrees were earned versus the second place degrees of social sciences and history at 173,000. Another site, MatchCollege.com, also has Business Administration as number one for the academic year 2010-11 with a total of 313,741 degrees issued in this field. Second place went to Liberal Arts with 273,794 degrees earned.

Does popular equate to job opportunities and a better salary? Not necessarily. In January 2011, CBS news reported that business is not one of the best paying college degrees. In fact, while quoting statistics from PayScale, CBS stated that college majors in business ranked 56th in the best-paying college degrees’ category. It fared worse than such “impractical” degrees such as philosophy and history. By selecting business as your major, you are placing yourself in a pool where one in five graduates is a business major.

The job site, Monster.com, lists the best occupations that will put you on the fast track to $100k annual salary. This site has Economics as the number three job; it’s in the 75th percentile or top 25% of positions with accelerated earnings. According to Monster.com, the average pay acceleration from the starting salary of $56,100 to $100,000 is seven to nine years. The number one slot is Petroleum Engineering and second place is Computer Engineering.  The former concurs with a report by Forbes in May 2012 which stated that the median annual salary for petroleum engineers is the highest in the engineering field at $155,000.


Associate’s Degree

Choosing a two year program in economics will greatly limit your job prospects. You will receive instruction in macroeconomics, microeconomics, finance, statistics and accounting. This may qualify you to apply for an assistant economics position which may be only part-time. Hourly salary expectations are $16-21. For the student who has aspirations to make economics a career and earn a higher salary, then a bachelor’s degree should be a serious consideration.

Bachelor’s Degree

Some colleges and universities offer both a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Economics. The course material is similar in both. There may be a difference in the number of hours required in the school’s core curriculum, majors and electives. Most on-campus programs require a total of 120 credit hours to graduate.

In the BA core curriculum, the University of Texas, Dallas, for example, offers courses in algebra, humanities, philosophy, world literature, civil war history, and criminal justice. The major requirements delve into macroeconomics and microeconomics principles and theory, international finance, energy and natural resource economics.

In the BS core and major requirements at UT Dallas, there is a greater emphasis on calculus, global economy, and statistical decision making.

Master’s Degree

In accordance with the bachelor’s level, there are schools offering both a Master of Arts (MA) and a Master of Science (MS) in the field of economics. As with most professions, one’s career choices broaden with a graduate degree. You become more marketable which equates to a higher salary and more opportunities to pursue, such as: banking, insurance, investment firms, government agencies, and consulting organizations, to name a few.


As stated previously in this report, the field of economics can be a very lucrative profession. Most only require a bachelor’s degree for these occupations and median salaries:

  • Actuary-  $87,650
  • Economist-  $94,900
  • Financial Analyst-  $74,350
  • Health Services Manager-  $84,270
  • Loan Officer-  $60,660
  • Management Analyst-  $78,160


The field of economics is diverse in its educational programs and specialties to its employment opportunities. It is an in-demand profession offering a well-above average income for those with a baccalaureate degree. Should you decide to make this your career path, you’ll be among famous people, for example:

  • Ted Turner, CNN, Atlanta Braves owner
  • Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO, Los Angeles Clippers owner
  • Lionel Richie, Singer/songwriter
  • John Elway, NFL Super Bowl winner and Denver Broncos Executive
  • Donald Trump, Billionaire
  • Warren Buffett, Financier, Billionaire