Career Facts

Investigate MORE INFO on all professions that sound interesting. Take your time. Don't skip a step.

Job Outlook: 8% (Faster than average)

  1. Is WHAT YOU DO enjoyable?
  2. Does the WORK ENVIRONMENT feel comfortable?
  3. Are you ok with THE REQUIREMENTS?
  4. Is the PAY ENOUGH?
  5. Is the JOB OUTLOOK positive- more than 7%?
  6. Still interested? WATCH THE VIDEO
  7. RELATED OCCUPATIONS Click here to view similar jobs.
FIND A JOB and more.

What Economists Do About this section

Economists
Economists prepare reports, tables, and charts.

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

Duties

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 About this section

Economists
Economists typically work with computers.

Economists held about 18,600 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of economists were 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.

 

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

Economists
Communication skills are important for economists, since they sometimes present research to colleagues.

Economists typically need at least a master’s degree to enter the occupation. However, some entry-level jobs—primarily in government—are available for workers with a bachelor’s degree.

Education

Economists typically need a master’s degree or Ph.D. 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 a graduate degree in economics with a bachelor’s degree in a number of fields, including economics, business, and mathematics. A Ph.D. in economics may require several years of study after earning a bachelor’s degree, including completion of 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. A graduate degree is sometimes required for advancement to higher level positions.

Other Experience

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

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.

Pay About this section

Economists

Median annual wages, May 2021

Economists

$105,630

Social scientists and related workers

$80,890

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for economists was $105,630 in May 2021. 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.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for economists in the top industries in which they worked were 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 About this section

Economists

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Economists

13%

Total, all occupations

8%

Social scientists and related workers

7%

 

Employment of economists is projected to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030, 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

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 SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Economists

19-3011 18,600 21,000 13 2,400 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about economists, visit

American Economic Association

For information about careers in business economics, visit

National Association for Business Economics

For information on federal government education requirements for economist positions, visit

U.S. Office of Personnel Management

O*NET

Economists

Environmental Economists

Video