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The bachelor’s degree in political economy is designed primarily to prepare students for the advanced study of economics, with a focus on its political context and implications. It would also provide useful preparation for careers in or the advanced study of areas including law, political science, public policy, and urban and regional planning. Opportunities are significant for persons working as lawyers, economists, political scientists, and urban and regional planners. Additional pursuits include working as an analyst in marketing, research, and finance.

Educational Qualifications

 Most economist jobs require an advanced degree, but some entry-level jobs are available with a bachelor’s degree, including jobs with the federal government. Most who complete a bachelor’s degree in economics find jobs outside the economics profession as research assistants, financial analysts, market analysts, and similar positions in business and finance.

Most urban and regional planners have a master’s degree from an accredited urban or regional planning program. Aspiring urban planners with a bachelor’s degree but not a master’s degree can qualify for a small number of jobs as assistant or junior planners. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree typically need work experience in planning, public policy, or a related field.

Political scientists need a master’s degree or Ph.D. in political science, public administration, or a related field. Jobseekers with a bachelor’s degree in political science usually qualify for entry-level positions in many related fields. Some qualify for entry-level positions as research assistants, others as policy analysts for research organizations, political campaigns, nonprofit organizations, or government agencies. Many go into fields outside of politics and policy, such as business or law.

Job Outlook

 Employment of economists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. Employment of urban and regional planners is expected to grow 16 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment of political scientists is expected to grow 8 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations.

Entering Salary

The median annual wage of accountants and auditors was $61,690 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,940 and the top 10 percent earned more than $106,880.

The median annual wage of paralegals and legal assistants was $46,680 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,460, and the top 10 percent earned more than $74,870. The median annual wage of lawyers was $112,760 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $54,130, and the top 10 percent earned more than $166,400.

The median annual wage of financial analysts was $74,350 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $44,490, and the top 10 percent earned more than $141,700.

The median annual wage of medical and health services managers was $84,270 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $51,280, and the top 10 percent earned more than $144,880.

The median annual wage of management analysts was $78,160 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $43,900, and the top 10 percent earned more than $138,790.

The median annual wage of human resources specialists was $52,690 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,050, and the top 10 percent earned more than $93,260.

The median annual wage of market research analysts was $60,570 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,350, and the top 10 percent earned more than $111,440. The median annual wage for marketing managers was $112,800 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $57,750, and the top 10 percent earned more than $166,400.

In May 2010 the wages for economists began at $89,450, for urban planners $40,410, and for political scientists $48,720

Career information adapted from:

  • U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2012). Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh