An economics degree can prove financially rewarding for recent graduates.
For a college major that is intellectually stimulating, opens doors to a wide range of career options and holds the potential for a strong starting salary, economics is hard to beat. The American Economic Association and “The Wall Street Journal” both reported that economics majors, on average, earn higher starting salaries than majors in many other fields, including many business concentrations.
In a 2008 survey of starting salaries by academic major, “The Wall Street Journal” reported that economics majors earned an average starting salary of $50,100 a year. The survey revealed that economics majors earned higher starting salaries than majors in the other social sciences, such as political science, anthropology, sociology and psychology. Starting salaries in these fields ranged from $35,900 a year for psychology majors to nearly $41,000 a year for graduates with political science degrees.
Economics vs. Business Majors
The Journal also reported that economics majors, on average, have higher starting salaries than business majors. Compared to the average starting salary of $50,100 a year for economics degree recipients, starting salaries for majors in accounting, finance and business management averaged $46,000, $47,900 and $43,000 a year, respectively. Although it is not occupation-specific, a degree program in economics provides the intellectual base for a successful business career. The problem-solving and analytical skills taught in economics courses apply to many jobs in business, according to the American Economic Association.
In a 2007 study of starting salaries by academic major, the American Economic Association reported that economics ranked fifth highest, trailing engineering and computer science majors, but exceeding business and other social science majors.
In addition to a strong starting salary, an economics degree provides excellent preparation for graduate-level study, leading to even greater career opportunities in a variety of fields. The American Economic Association reported that a bachelor’s degree in economics prepares students for master of business administration (MBA) studies, law school and graduate studies in economics.