Naturally then, you might wonder how you can further your skills beyond just graduating with your latest degree. Or, you may have encountered situations or job opportunities where you wish you’d had more time to study a particular topic. Professional development courses or skills training are one great method to do so.
What is a professional skills training for economists?
Professional trainings for economists may be offered by a university or by other organizations, including private companies. Usually for a modest tuition fee, you can take a class that lasts anywhere from a single day to a few weeks. Some of these economics trainings are only offered in person and on-site, but many course providers are increasingly offering online courses so that anyone around the world can join in.
These trainings are usually focused around a particular topic, and are designed to give either an introduction to a specific area of economics (for example, macroeconomic forecasting), a useful tool for economists (such as R or Python), or a related field (like data science).
Because these courses are designed to help economists advance their skills, some knowledge of economics is usually required. Many courses require participants to already have an advanced degree in economics, or some related field. This is important as the learning environment can be fast-paced, offering an introduction or advanced training in a complicated topic in as little as one week.
Common topic areas for trainings
There are a number of areas in which economists (particularly fresh Master’s or PhD graduates) can further hone their skillset through these types of opportunities. The following are a few major areas you may consider taking a training course in after your degree:
Advanced micro- or macroeconomics: Although every economics degree comes with introductory and advanced micro– and macroeconomics coursework, it’s easy to forget much of this knowledge once you pick a major or specialization within your degree. Advanced microeconomic or macroeconomic courses help reinforce the fundamentals of economics, or can even inspire your research by reminding you how macroeconomists (for example) tackle some problems that you and your microeconomics-focused colleagues don’t think about as often. But it’s not just for refreshing: some of these courses can delve deep into newly emerging research methods, or explain niche economic models that semester courses don’t have time to introduce.
Econometrics and statistics: This is an important area containing many critical skills for economists. Additional coursework in econometrics or statistics can be massively helpful in your career and improve your career opportunities, since every economist benefits from a deeper understanding of the models, methods, and theories that power economic thought. Consider taking professional training courses in econometric methods to sharpen your skills. This can include topics on statistics, time series analysis, managing panel data, niche regression models (or advanced, like gravity models), etc.
Software tools: R, Stata, Python, SAS, SPSS, Eviews and dozens more: the statistical software tool options for economists are as myriad as they are complex. It’s likely that as an economist, you will need to learn at least one of these tools well in order to conduct data analysis. Multiple proficiencies will be a plus as different employers or universities may utilize different tools. Professional training courses that help you become more savvy with one or more of these tools can therefore improve the quality of your work and potentially save you thousands of hours of troubleshooting over the course of your career.
Data Science topics: Economists will find many topics in data science interesting and helpful for their research, and more widely for their career. Courses in data science can help economists work more effectively and conscientiously with large datasets. Further, these courses can also help prepare economists for the cutting-edge technology and research methods that will impact how economics is researched in the future. For example, economists and data scientists are already using machine learning algorithms to forecast, and may increasingly be using large-language models (LLMs) to analyze economic data. Other elements of data science (such as bootstrapping and decision tree models) have already made their way into the field, so it can be helpful to become familiar with them.
Broadening your horizons: Did you finish an economics degree, and wish you had time to take more courses? Maybe you did your Master’s of Economics and specialized in quantitative macroeconomics, but wish you had time to take that cool class on energy economics. Professional training courses are a great way to do just that. Specific areas of focus like behavioral economics, accounting, applied economics, or real estate can all provide helpful knowledge and context for economists who work in related fields.
Interested in some opportunities? Check out further professional training listings on our website.
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