Careers for students in economics
Economics is about making good decisions; explaining and predicting; behaving strategically; achieving objectives efficiently. Economics is a way of thinking and a collection of powerful quantitative and analytic tools. It is a body of knowledge about the national economy, the world economy and the many sectors in each. When you put all of this together you find that economics can prepare students for an extraordinary range of career choices.
Graduates of our programs have become lawyers, accountants, financial analysts, investment advisers, policy makers, academics, chief economists of major financial institutions, CEOs of major companies, entrepreneurs, and more. They occupy positions at all levels in government, business and academia.
The diversity of our programs allows our students to get a head start in preparing for all of these. The information here and on the other careers pages will help you in making decisions about how best to do this, both in terms of which of our programs to choose and how you can build on them through follow-on programs.
Preparing for careers in business, finance and accounting
The combination of a BA or BSC Major with the Business Option (or Business Minor) and Finance Option provide a good starting point for most careers in business including finance, financial services and accounting, among others.
The major accounting certifications are: Chartered Accountant (CA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and Certified General Accountant (CGA). In September 2013 the BC branches of the CA and CMA will merge under a new Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation, which may eventually include the CGA. For updates on merger status see Uniting the Canadian Accounting Profession.
An effective route to achieve an accounting certification is to combine an Economics degree program with the courses required by the certifications: CA transfer guide, CMA transfer guide, CGA information; CPA transfer guide should be forthcoming by May 2013. The certifications accept courses that are required in Economics programs (ECON 103, 104, 245 & 246; some certifications accept 225 and 454). In addition, the certifications require a number of courses in accounting and other areas. The certifications accept all of the courses in our Business Option but not our accounting course COM 270 (with one exception, see below).
Most accounting and other required courses have to be taken off campus. For example, Accounting at Camosun offers the full range of acceptable courses as well as a Professional Accounting certificate program (PACCT). Their accounting sequence starts with ACCT 110 & 111 and ACCT 220. Together these courses can be counted in place of COM 270 as credit in the Business Option. (The BC Transfer Guide under COM 270 notes: CAMO ACCT 110 + CAMO ACCT 111 + CAMO ACCT 220 can be used to satisfy UVic COM 270 requirement for Bus minor & option programs). If a student takes CAMO ACCT 110, CAMO ACCT 111 & CAMO ACCT 220, this precludes credit for UVIC COM 270. Most courses required for the certifications transfer to UVic as 200-Level credit, check the BC Transfer Guide. (For example, "CAMO ACCT 110 & CAMO ACCT 111 = UVIC COM 200 lev (1.5)", and CAM0 ACCT 220 transfers as "UVIC COM 200 lev (1.5)". By the way, Business accepts Camosun's ACCT 110 & 111 as satisfying the co-requisite for COM 240.)
To complete your degree and certification efficiently you should plan early and not take too many 100- and 200-Level electives at UVic. Otherwise, you might end up taking extra courses to satisfy graduating requirements (e.g. at least 20 courses must be taken at UVic, at least 12 courses must be at the 300 and 400 level, and at least 8 of the 10 required 300 and 400 level courses in the economics Major program must be taken at UVic). Upper level UVic courses that may count towards accreditation include: COM 302 (or 402), 425, 426, 445, 446; ECON 454; PHIL 330. Econ courses that complement the material are ECON 305, 310A, 413, 435, 458.
The accounting certifications offer ways of catching up if you have not taken the required courses. For example, the CMA Accelerated Program is an intensive 9 month part-time program (offered in Victoria) that prepares you to challenge their CMA Entrance Exam. You can get into this program if you complete the equivalent of ECON 103, 104, 245, 246, COM 270, COM 302 (or 402), and a CMA correspondence course on management accounting. If you don't have COM 302 you can take a CMA correspondence course. Also, CAMO ACCT 110 & 111, 220 would satisfy accounting requirements including COM 270 and the CMA correspondence course.
Representatives of the Accounting certification usually visit campus for the annual Fall Co-op and Career Fair. If you miss the Fair, contact their recruitment managers by phone or email. Besides specifics, you might ask them what distinguishes one certification from the other. Historically, the CA and CGA certifications emphasized financial accounting. CAs and CGAs typically work for accounting firms which produce reports (e.g. auditing reports) for shareholders and regulators. In contrast, CMAs typically work within a firm and use management accounting to provide detailed information in firm decision-making. The new CPA will offer specialization streams. Fortunately, you don't have to make up your mind right away, since the certifications and specialization streams all involve the same introductory and intermediate level courses.
Financial analysis relies on the analytic and quantitative methods of economics and is generally regarded as a branch of economics, as well as business. UVic students interested in pursuing a graduate finance program, either a specialized program or as part of an MBA, will be well served by an undergraduate economics program that includes the right combination of courses. For those interested in a career in financial services a BA or BSc Major combined with the Finance Option is a good choice. Follow the links on the left for sources of more information about training for the financial services industry.
- Canadian Securities Institute. The CSI offers a number of programs to prepare for careers in the financial services industry. The Canadian Securities Course is the most popular.
- Chartered Financial Analyst Program. This is the Gold Standard for the investment profession. Financial analysis in general, and this program in particular, draw on the analytic and quantitative skills that are part of our programs. An Economics degree that includes courses in accounting and finance provides a good starting point. This is a self-study program with exams written at three successive levels. Completing the Level I CFA exams serves as a strong signal to potential employers that you are serious about career in this field. There is a CFA branch in Victoria with a website at www.cfavictoria.com.
- US Department of Labour, Bureau of Labour Statistics Financial Analyst Career Page. The official US government site containing financial analyst career information.
All government policies have economic implications and, whatever the objectives of the policy might be, the economic way of thinking and the economics tool-kit can help insure that these objectives are achieved most effectively. Not surprisingly, economists are at the centre of policy formation by governments and international agencies at all levels.
We offer a number of courses with an explicit policy focus, including courses in labour economics, health economics, Canadian public policy, urban economics, as well as a complete four course sequence in environmental and resource economics. A graduate degree is often expected.
Graduate studies in economics
A graduate degree in economics is a common expectation for most jobs performed by professional economists. Our BSc honours program provides an excellent foundation for graduate studies in economics. Many of our undergraduates have gone on to notable success in some of the best graduate programs in Canada and elsewhere. Some are now themselves teaching in Universities both in Canada and in the United States. We also offer our own Masters and PhD programs.
Each year there will be a number of information sessions that will provide information about employment opportunities and opportunities for graduate study. In addition, there will be a number of events that will allow you to make contact with professional economists and their associations. You can check out the events calendar for a list of past and upcoming events. To keep informed about upcoming opportunities you should subscribe to the Econstudents list.
The alumni profiles on the Alumni Page will provide you with examples of some of the many students who have pursued careers as professional economists.
- Accelerated Economist Training Program. The AETP is a Government of Canada program targeted at Masters students in economics and public policy. It provides students with an opportunity to gain work experience in a number of departments in the federal government.
- Canadian Association for Business Economics. This is the national web site for the CABE. There is a Victoria chapter and you can learn more about their activities through the national site.
Other career paths
Many other alternatives are open to students with an undergraduate degree in economics, including professional programs in law, public administration, health information science and economic consulting. The type of preparation best suited for each of these differs considerably. For example, students preparing for studies in law would benefit most from our courses that emphasize the institutional foundations of the economy. These include not only the courses in law and economics, but also the courses in economic history, economic development and the history of economic thought. In this case, the BA Major or Honours programs would be more suitable than the BSc programs.
Other economics career websites
There are a number of other sites on the Internet that provide information about the career opportunities open to students of economics. Here are some of the best.
- EconLinks: Career Options for Econ Majors - This contains links to all of the major career web sites for students of economics.
- McGraw-Hill Careers in Economics - A site maintained by the McGraw-Hill publishing company.
- South Western Economics Careers Page - A site maintained by South Western Publishing.
- Career information from the State University of New York at Oswego.
- 2013-05-29 - Lecture/Seminar - Brown Bag Seminar - Daniel Rondeau
- 2013-06-12 - Lecture/Seminar - Brown Bag Seminar - Carl Mosk
- View all events on the UVic Economics calendar