If confirmed by the Senate, she would be the first woman to hold the position in US history.
The 74-year-old economist previously served as head of America’s central bank and as a top economics adviser to former President Bill Clinton.
She is credited with helping steer the economic recovery after the 2007 financial crisis and ensuing recession.
As chairwoman of the US Federal Reserve, Ms Yellen was known for focusing more attention on the impact of the bank’s policies on workers and the costs of America’s rising inequality.
Donald Trump bucked Washington tradition in 2018 when he opted not to appoint Ms Yellen to a second four-year term at the Fed. Starting with Bill Clinton in the 1990s, presidents kept on bank leaders appointed by their predecessors in an effort to de-politicize the bank.
Since leaving the post in 2018, Ms Yellen has spoken out about the need for Washington to do more to shield the US economy from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Who is Janet Yellen?
She grew up in New York City and earned her degree in economics from Yale University. In addition to her work at the Fed and in government, she was a professor at University of California, Berkeley.
She is married to George Akerlof, a Nobel Prize-winning economist whom she met working as a researcher at the Fed in the 1970s. They have one son, who is also an economics professor.
Her climb to the top of the economics profession also made her a feminist icon in the economics world. When she left the Fed in 2018, many paid tribute to her leadership by imitating her signature look of a blazer with a popped collar.
How does she fit into the US political scene?
Ms Yellen has a long history of working in Washington. Before Mr Obama named her to lead the Fed in 2014, she had served as one of its board members for a decade, including four years as vice-chair.
She is seen as a pick able to satisfy progressive and centrist members of Mr Biden’s Democratic party. Her nomination to lead the Fed in 2014 won support from some Republicans.
“2 cheers for Janet Yellen at Treasury,” liberal public policy professor and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote on Twitter.
While she is not as left-wing as some of the names rumoured to be under consideration, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, she still “understands the huge toll stagnant wages, systemic racism, and widening inequality have taken on our economy and society”, he said.