I’m not an economist, but several of my friends are (gawd, what does that make me? An economist groupie? ;). Most of them work for the government or for universities.
Simply put, the government economists I know deal with analysing the macro-economic impact of proposed government policies. They also work at gathering economic indicators and intrepreting trends. One economist I know specialises in revenue measures; she investigates the micro- effect of existing government revenue schemes – none of them are neutral meaures – and dreams up new taxes to inflict on the populace.
The economists I know who work for universities are lecturers and researchers. I know something of their teaching side, but comprehend next to nothing about the topics they write on.
Oh, I also know one Masters-level economist who works for a management consulting firm. Absolutely no idea about what he really does, though.
hawthorne, another Australia poster here, is an economist at a university, IIRC.
I will be receiving a bachelor’s in Economics in a couple weeks. Just finishing up my last class (spanish) now. I have not yet decided if I am going to go back to school. As of now, I would have to guess no, but I am sure I will reconsider that in a couple years. I would, however, recommend getting a masters if you decide to go back to school. It will give you more options. I have really just started looking for work. There are some analyst jobs I could do, but I think I will probably end up working for a bank or other financial institution. Hopefully not for the rest of my life. As with most liberal arts majors, a BA will most likely get you a job in a management type position. Now if you were to get a Masters, you could do more with analyzing numbers and what have you. I really didn’t take (wasn’t offered) enough stats and other metric classes to feel comfortable doing that as of now, although I probably could. Most of these jobs involve identifying trends and deciding how they will affect things. I never really paid much attention to the grad school offerings, but with undergrad classes, courses are usually divided into 2 basic categories. You’ve got your theory, which involves math. Such as Financial Econ, Econometrics, Statistics and what have you. The other group focuses more on the social aspects of economics, like public policy and historical perspectives and stuff like that. I went to Indiana University and ended up having to mix them up almost every semester after I got the initial requirements out of the way just because of scheduling conflicts. Well I think I will stop here. I could go on, but I am getting dangerously close to answering questions you have not asked. This was on the IU econ home page:
Assuming you haven’t sone something prudent, like majoring in accounting, you’ll probably be equipped to work (initially) in an entry-level job in a financial services or management consultancy firm - or for the government.
One entry-level job is much like another - generally back-office or filing of some description - unless you can get a job in something like broking or sales. My first job out of uni was in a call centre for a funds manager, from which I moved into IT, then on to work for a regulator.
That covers most of what you’re up for. There’s other stuff out there, such as specialist journalism or such, but they’ll probably want some evidence you’ve worked in the industry before.