Political Economics Career Options and Education Requirements

Sep 18, 2019

Degrees in political economics typically cover business, law and political science. Find out about the requirements of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for political economics graduates.

A degree in political economics offers several career options. Though a bachelor's degree is the minimum needed for some jobs, graduate-level education provides more high-paying opportunities, such as a lobbyist or political scientist.

Essential Information

Entry-level jobs in the political economics field typically require a bachelor's degree in a field like political science or economics, but an advanced degree in these fields can help professionals find higher-ranking jobs in executive and management positions. Those interested in the legal aspects of political economics can pursue a Juris Doctor degree or choose an economic or political focus in law school. Many of these advanced degrees require additional schooling commitments, but those seeking advanced positions in the political economics field will need the skills and experience these programs provide.

Careers Financial Manager Political Scientist/Lobbyist
Required Education Bachelor's degree Master's Degree
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 16%* 5% for political scientists*
Annual Median Salary (2018)** $127,990* $117,570 for political scientists*

Source: *U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Graduates of political economics programs at the bachelor's degree level can continue their education into a master's program or enter the workforce in the business sector, specializing in finance, technical, or trade economics. There are a variety of jobs for people with a bachelor's degree, including financial manager, technical analyst, or business consultant. A law specialization affords several more career options focusing on the legal side of economics, including careers as a lobbyist or foreign policy specialist. Many political economics graduates pursue careers in government agencies or education, and obtaining an advanced degree in the field opens up research or higher education positions.

Business Careers

Political economists in the business sector could work as financial, technical or trade specialists. These professionals generally forecast business climates according to global political and economic events. Additionally, they could provide businesses with an expert analysis of tools and technology necessary to compete in an international market. Depending on a professional's specialization, job options could include executive manager, financial operations officer, technical analyst or business consultant. Job outlook may vary by career. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job positions for financial managers are expected to increase by 16% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than the national average. Payscale.com, as of September 2019, reports that financial officers make an annual median salary of $58,993.

Legal Careers

Political economists entering the field of law could choose to specialize in a number of disciplines, including environmental, corporate and financial law. Those with a legal background could also choose to provide advocacy for underprivileged or underserved populations as legislative lobbyists, legal advisors or foreign policy specialists. BLS reports that the number of political scientists is predicted to increase by 5% between 2018 and 2028, which is as fast as average. The annual median salary for a lobbyist, according to Payscale.com in August 2019, was $73,393.

Other Career Options

Business and legal professions make up a large portion of this field, though many political economists also seek positions in domestic and international government agencies, through support organizations and at colleges and universities. Job prospects in these fields include researchers, professors, foreign service officers, historians and economists. With advanced education and experience, these professionals could establish careers that help shape public policies and international strategies.

Educational Requirements for Political Economists

A bachelor's degree in political science or economics could be sufficient to qualify for entry-level jobs in the financial services industry or other business enterprises. However, those seeking senior management and top executive jobs might find advanced education through a master's or doctoral degree program necessary. Those specializing in international affairs or working in foreign countries could need to become proficient in one or more languages.

Aspiring political economists interested in the legal influences of the profession could earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Law schools typically allow students to specialize their curricula in interdisciplinary legal studies that could include economics and political coursework. Master's and doctoral degree programs also offer focused education in political science and economics, and many schools offer dual-degree programs for law students to further specialize in these disciplines.

Individuals interested in political economics may find work as financial managers, lobbyists and lawyers, among other careers. Professionals in this field have the opportunity to shape political and economic policies, though this level of involvement usually requires a graduate degree of some kind.

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