Economists

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Economists collect and analyze data, research trends, and evaluate economic issues for resources, goods, and services.

Work Environment: Although the majority of economists work independently in an office, many collaborate with other economists and statisticians. Most economists work full time during regular business hours, but occasionally they work overtime to meet deadlines.

How to Become One: Most economists need a master’s degree or Ph.D. However, some entry-level jobs—primarily in the federal government—are available for workers with a bachelor's degree.

Salary: The median annual wage for economists is $105,630.

Job Outlook: Employment of economists is projected to grow 13 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of economists with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as an economist with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Economist Jobs

  • Beach Economist - Part Time - Moffatt ' Nichol Engine - Costa Mesa, CA

    We are actively looking for a Beach Economist to join our Costa Mesa office on a part time basis. As part of the Coastal Group Group, the Economist will help in the delivery of projects

  • Game Economist Internship - Activision Blizzard, Inc. - Santa Monica, CA

    Game Economist Internship Your Platform At Activision Blizzard we are dedicated to creating the most epic entertainment experiences, driven by our company values and passion, Activision Blizzard ...

  • Senior Economist, Economic Development Research - Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation - Los Angeles, CA

    SUMMARY The Senior Economist is a key member of the Institute of Applied Economics (IAE) Team, requiring a range of sophisticated skills, technical experience, and independent decision-making to ...

See all Economist jobs

What Economists Do[About this section] [To Top]

Economists study the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services by collecting and analyzing data, researching trends, and evaluating economic issues.

Duties of Economists

Economists typically do the following:

  • Research economic issues
  • Conduct surveys and collect data
  • Analyze data using mathematical models, statistical techniques, and software
  • Present research results in reports, tables, and charts
  • Interpret and forecast market trends
  • Advise businesses, governments, and individuals on economic topics
  • Recommend solutions to economic problems
  • Write articles for academic journals and other media

Economists apply both qualitative and quantitative economic analysis to topics within a variety of fields, such as education, health, development, and the environment. Some economists study the cost of products, healthcare, or energy, while others examine employment levels, business cycles, exchange rates, taxes, inflation, or interest rates.

Economists often study historical trends and use them to make forecasts. They research and analyze data using a variety of software programs. They sometimes present their research to various audiences.

Many economists work in federal, state, and local government. Federal government economists collect and analyze data about the U.S. economy, including employment, prices, productivity, and wages, among other types of data. They also project spending needs and inform policymakers on the economic impact of laws and regulations.

Economists working for corporations help managers and decisionmakers understand how the economy will affect their business. Specifically, economists may analyze issues such as consumer demand and sales to help a company maximize its profits.

Economists also work for international organizations, research firms, and think tanks, where they study and analyze a variety of economic issues. Their analyses and forecasts are frequently published in newspapers and journals.

Many PhD economists become postsecondary teachers.

Work Environment for Economists[About this section] [To Top]

Economists hold about 18,600 jobs. The largest employers of economists are as follows:

Federal government, excluding postal service 25%
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 17%
Scientific research and development services 14%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 11%
Finance and insurance 7%

Economists typically work independently in an office. However, many economists collaborate with other economists and statisticians, sometimes working on teams. Some economists work from home, and others may be required to travel as part of their job or to attend conferences.

Economists spend much of their time using computers to analyze data, review research, or write findings.

Economist Work Schedules

Most economists work full time. In addition to working full time at a business or university, some economists consult part-time. Some perform work that may require overtime hours.

How to Become an Economist[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Economists near you!

Most economists need a master's degree or Ph.D. However, some entry-level jobs—primarily in government—are available for workers with a bachelor's degree.

Education for Economists

A master's degree or Ph.D. is required for most economist jobs. Positions in business, research, or international organizations often require a combination of graduate education and work experience. In addition, courses that introduce students to statistical analysis software are helpful.

Students can pursue an advanced degree in economics with a bachelor's degree in a number of fields, but a strong background in mathematics is essential. A Ph.D. in economics may require several years of study after earning a bachelor's degree, including completion of detailed research in a specialty field.

Candidates with a bachelor's degree may qualify for some entry-level economist positions, including jobs with the federal government. An advanced degree is sometimes required for advancement to higher level positions.

Other Experience for Economists

Aspiring economists can gain valuable experience from internships where the work involves gathering and analyzing data, researching economic issues and trends, and writing reports on their findings. In addition, related experience, such as using statistical analysis software, can be advantageous.

Important Qualities for Economists

Analytical skills. Economists must be able to review data in detail, observe patterns, perform advanced calculations, and draw logical conclusions. For example, labor economists analyze the effects of labor policies on employment.

Critical-thinking skills. Economists must be able to use logic and reasoning to solve complex problems. For instance, they might identify how economic trends may affect an organization.

Speaking skills. Economists must be able to explain their work to others. They often give presentations and explain reports to clients who may not have a background in economics.

Writing skills. Economists must be able to present their findings clearly. Many economists prepare reports for colleagues or clients; others write for publication in journals or for news media.

Economist Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

Salary Calculator


Entry Level Experienced

The median annual wage for economists is $105,630. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $62,460, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $193,690.

The median annual wages for economists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Finance and insurance $163,640
Federal government, excluding postal service $125,950
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services $117,510
Scientific research and development services $101,910
State government, excluding education and hospitals $82,220

Most economists work full time. Some perform work that may require overtime hours.

Job Outlook for Economists[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of economists is projected to grow 13 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 1,600 openings for economists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment of Economists

Many of the new jobs for these workers are expected to be in firms that specialize in research and consulting services.

Organizations across many industries use economic analysis and quantitative methods to study and forecast business, sales, and other market trends. Employment demand is expected to be strong for these workers, as organizations increasingly turn to economists to apply analysis of big data to pricing, advertising, and other areas. The increasing complexity of the global economy and a more competitive business environment also are expected to support demand for economists.

Employment projections data for Economists, 2020-30
Occupational Title Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30
Percent Numeric
Economists 18,600 21,000 13 2,400


A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.


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