All You Need To Know About An Economist Career

You think about becoming an economist but are not entirely sure whether this career path is the right way to go for you or not?

Great! Stick with me since I will show you all you need to know about working as an economist in the following article.

Not only will you learn how much you can make as an economist, but you will also get lots of information on job security, future outlook, educational requirements, working hours and job satisfaction of economists.

At the end of this article, you will also find an FAQ section where I answer various questions about an economist career you might still have.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Table of Contents

What does an Economist do?

Economics study global markets and conduct research so that our scarce resources can be used in the most efficient manner.

Economists are highly involved in political decisions and are also in high demand in the corporate world where they analyze data, monitor market movements and conduct forecasts to assure that companies are well-prepared for the future.

Responsibilities & Duties of an Economist

  • Collection of data
  • Complex data analysis
  • Preparation of forecasts
  • Making sure that resources are used as efficiently as possible
  • Analyzing competitors and improving a company’s performance figures
  • Monitoring of economic trends
  • Preparation of research articles
  • Making important investment decisions
  • Invention and improvement of complex mathematical models
  • Conducting surveys and industry studies
  • Presentation of results using tables, graphs and other electronic media
  • Giving advice to politicians
  • Giving advice to the senior management of companies

What a Typical Day of an Economist looks like?

Most economists start working between 7 and 9 a.m.

The first thing after getting to work is checking their e-mails and making sure that nothing unexpected is going on.

After answering the most important mails, economists turn to the projects they work on right now.

This often includes complex data analysis to understand how world markets develop to make the best possible investment decisions and forecasts for the future.

You will also have to prepare presentations for meetings quite often to show your results to the senior management or to politicians, depending on whether you work in the corporate world or in a public institution.

After doing this kind of office work for many hours, you will usually quit your workday between 5 and 7 p.m. and you will barely have to work longer.

Hence, becoming an economist can be great for you if you aspire to a normal 9 to 5 job and don’t want to work long hours all the time while you can still make good money from what you are doing.

Economist Salary 2021

Economist salary brackets 2021

Salary BracketsSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Top 10 %> $188,000> $93.42
Top 25 %$134,000 – $153,000$71.88 – $76.39
Bottom 25 %$75,000 – $89,000$37.41 – $44.37
Bottom 10 %$62,000 – $68,000$30.94 – $33.92
Range$62,000 – $214,000$30.89 – $106.86
Average (Mean)$109,000$54.43
Median$97,000$51.95

Economist salary 2021 by expert level

Level of ExperienceSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Entry level$62,000 – $69,000$30.89 – $34.42
Junior$67,000 – $84,000$33.34 – $41.87
Professional$81,000 – $96,000$40.29 – $47.93
Senior Professional$93,000 – $114,000$46.45 – $56.88
Expert$108,000 – $147,000$53.92 – $73.91
Top Expert$136,000 – $214,000$67.86 – $106.86

Economist salary by state 2021 (average)

StateSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Alabama$102,100$51.02
Alaska$98,700$49.31
Arizona$104,600$52.28
Arkansas$97,900$48.93
California$116,700$58.29
Colorado$104,300$52.13
Connecticut$101,800$50.85
Delaware$96,500$48.21
District of Columbia$103,700$51.82
Florida$106,500$53.19
Georgia$98,400$49.16
Guam$97,200$48.52
Hawaii$108,600$54.27
Idaho$95,100$47.48
Illinois$97,300$48.61
Indiana$103,800$51.88
Iowa$96,700$48.32
Kansas$98,200$49.06
Kentucky$96,500$48.23
Louisiana$102,200$51.04
Maine$98,500$49.22
Maryland$108,300$54.09
Massachusetts$106,300$53.11
Michigan$96,400$48.17
Minnesota$98,800$49.34
Mississippi$93,200$46.53
Missouri$91,800$45.88
Montana$96,300$48.12
Nebraska$97,200$48.54
Nevada$95,800$47.81
New Hampshire$102,100$51.03
New Jersey$104,600$52.26
New Mexico$94,300$47.14
New York$121,600$60.73
North Carolina$97,300$48.61
North Dakota$98,100$49.01
Ohio$94,800$47.33
Oklahoma$98,600$49.27
Oregon$101,900$50.91
Pennsylvania$104,200$52.06
Rhode Island$99,600$49.71
South Carolina$97,500$48.69
South Dakota$100,800$50.32
Tennessee$103,200$51.54
Texas$89,600$44.78
Utah$97,500$48.69
Vermont$93,200$46,52
Virginia$97,900$48.93
Washington$98,600$49.25
West Virginia$98,400$49.13
Wisconsin$93,200$46.48
Wyoming$91,500$45.64

Job Security for Economists

Economists have pretty decent job security.

In fact, economists are in high demand right now and if you are really good at data analytics and other statistical disciplines, chances are that you will almost have freedom of choice regarding whom you want to work for.

Future Job Prospects of Economists

Economists also benefit from a really good future outlook in the job market.

Since data analysis becomes increasingly important to forecast market trends and to outperform the market, many financial institutions will likely love to employ economists in the near future and you will not have to worry about unemployment in this field that much.

Working Hours of Economists

Most economics get to work between 7 and 9 a.m. and finish their workday between 5 and 7 p.m.

Thus, you will often have enough time to meet up with your friends after work and can also avoid having to work at nighttime.

Job Satisfaction of Economists

Many economists are pretty happy with what they do for a living.

In fact, while economists can make really good money, they also have many interesting things to do and will also have a rather relaxed workweek most of the time.

Promotion Opportunities of Economists

There are numerous promotion opportunities for economists.

If you are really good at what you are doing and you are also willing to work hard, many doors will open for you as an economist and you will be able to climb the corporate ladder soon.

Career Levels of Economists

  • Economist intern
  • Junior economist
  • Senior economist
  • Senior economist with budget and/or personnel responsibility
  • Chief economist

Fields and Types of Economists

  • Economist focused on financial markets
  • Economist focused on industry developments
  • Economist specialized in the banking sector
  • Economist specialized in the insurance sector
  • Economist specialized in complex data modeling
  • Economist focused on research
  • Economist for investment analyses
  • Economist working for the government
  • Economist working for a regulatory authority
  • Economist working in the corporate world

Educational Requirements for Economists

You need at least an undergraduate degree in economics or a related field to work as an economist.

Even better would be a master’s degree or even a doctor’s degree, especially if you want to work in the research department of renowned companies or for the government.

How to become an Economist

  1. Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being an economist
  2. Get good grades in high school
  3. Apply for undergraduate degrees at good colleges
  4. Study hard and get good grades
  5. Work as an intern in a research department of big corporations
  6. Make a good impression during your internship
  7. Stay in touch with your colleagues
  8. Finish your degree
  9. Apply for vacancies
  10. Master the job interview
  11. Start your job as an economist and become a real expert over time

Character Traits you need as an Economist

  • Ability to really immerse yourself in a topic
  • Willingness to work with numbers all day long
  • Patience to figure out complex relationships and hidden opportunities
  • Willingness to study hard for your degree
  • You should have trust in yourself
  • Willingness to work in a competitive environment
  • Willingness to take on responsibility
  • Empathy helps you lead a team
  • Stress resistance can help you push through difficult times

Hard Skills for Economists

  • Excellent knowledge of markets
  • Profound understanding of financial instruments
  • Knowledge of how to conduct research
  • Ability to present your results well
  • Good data analytics skills
  • Strong analytical skills in general
  • Ability to understand complex models
  • You should be good at working with numbers
  • Knowledge of foreign languages is a plus
  • Good digital skills help since you will do most of your work on a computer

Soft Skills for Economists

  • Good communication skills help to present your results to stakeholders
  • Patience to understand complex models
  • Humility to do annoying tasks from time to time
  • You should be willing to work in a team
  • Stress resistance helps you during difficult times
  • Persistence keeps you going
  • Ambition to really figure things out
  • Good people skills can help you lead a team
  • You have to become a real leader if you want to work in senior management

Exit Options for Economists

Since economists learn many valuable hard skills, they also have excellent exit options.

If you no longer want to work as an economist, you can switch to working as an investment banker, financial analyst, controller or risk manager.

Economist – Similar Careers

  • Risk manager
  • Financial controller
  • Analyst
  • Investment banker
  • Consultant
  • Auditor
  • Stock broker
  • Accountant
  • Statistician
  • Financial planner

Economist Career FAQs

Is working as an economist physically demanding?

The job of an economist is not physically demanding at all.

You will do most of your work on a computer and while your fingers may start to hurt after a while, you will still have a rather relaxed time in this regard while other people like construction workers or carpenters have to work in a hard physical manner every day.

Is working as an economist mentally demanding?

Working as an economist is heavily mentally demanding.

In fact, you will often conduct complex research and prepare data analyses that rely on sophisticated models.

In order to understand what you are doing, you have to immerse yourself in those things and this means that you will often get to your mental limit at work.

Is it dangerous to work as an economist?

Working as an economist is not dangerous at all.

Most of your time, you will be able to work in a protected office environment while other people who work with heavy machines often have to fear getting seriously injured at their workplace.

How long do economists stay in their jobs?

Most economists stay in their jobs for quite a long time since they really enjoy what they are doing for a living, have enough time for their family and friends and also make pretty good money at the same time.

Thus, the incentive for economists to switch jobs will be pretty low.

Is it easy for economists to find a new job?

Since economists are in high demand right now, it is also pretty easy for economists to find a new job.

In fact, you don’t have to worry about becoming unemployed anytime soon and even though you might get fired, you would still find a new job pretty soon in most regions.

Is it hard to switch from being an economist to another field of work?

Economists also have a pretty easy time working in a different field.

For instance, if you don’t want to work as an economist anymore, you can still switch to accounting, investment banking, controlling, consulting and many other disciplines since the skill set you need in those fields will be quite similar.

Do economists have a high social status?

Economists have decent social status since they are important for our economy and for politicians to make good decisions that can greatly benefit society as a whole.

However, you will still not have the same high social status as doctors who really can save lives on a daily basis.

Can you help out your family and friends as an economist?

Since you will be focused on complex data analyses and world markets, you will not be able to do good for your loved ones with your expertise from your job.

Yet, you can still consult your family and friends when it comes to investment decisions since you will understand financial markets much better than most people of the general public.

Can economists work remotely?

Since economists do computer work all day long, they can also work remotely on a regular basis.

Sure, this also depends on the company or the institution you work for.

However, most big companies allow teleworking in this field and this means that you can save lots of time and money commuting issues in the long run.

Is it easy to find a partner as an economist?

Since economists make really good money and also have a pretty safe job while they also don’t have to work much overtime, economists have a pretty easy time in the dating market since they are considered good providers and will have almost freedom of choice in this regard.

Do economists have to work on weekends?

Economists don’t have to work on weekends most of the time.

However, during stressful periods of the year when you have to do many things at the same time, you may have to work on Saturdays or even Sundays to get things done for meetings you might have on Monday.

Do economists have to work on holidays?

Economists don’t have to work on holidays.

Instead, they can spend this time with their loved ones or on their favorite hobbies. You can also make nice hiking trips or just spend your time in your garden and do a nice barbecue.

Do economists have to work at nighttime?

Economists also don’t have to work in the evening or at nighttime.

Instead, economists work in a classical 9 to 5 environment and even though they might have to work longer than 40 hours on average, most economists are still happy with their working hours and their workload and will come home from work relatively early.

Do you have to travel as an economist?

You will not have to travel much as a junior economist.

However, once you climb the corporate ladder, business trips will become more common and especially if you want to work in economic consulting one day, you will have to travel quite a lot.

Are economist pensions good?

Since economists make really good money from what they are doing, also their pensions are pretty decent.

Moreover, you will also be able to save and invest enough money during your active career to build up a solid retirement fund on the side.

Are economist salaries going up?

Economist salaries have been going up significantly over the past decade and since there is a shortage of qualified economists out there, chances are that this trend will also continue in the near future.

Can you have a positive effect on society as an economist?

Since you will conduct important industry forecasts and your analyses will have a significant impact on the decisions of senior management, you can have a huge impact on society in general, both in a positive but also in a negative way in case you make huge mistakes.

How long does it take to become an economist?

Since you have to go to college and get a degree in economics, it will take you at least 3 years to become an economist.

However, many big companies require you to get a master’s or even a doctor’s degree before you are able to work for them and this means that it can take you 5 up to 10 years to be finally able to work in one of these positions.

Is it difficult to become an economist?

Becoming an economist is not that easy since you will have to study hard to get your degree and to get good grades.

In fact, many students in this field quit their studies pretty soon since they just don’t understand economic relationships and are also not willing to really immerse themselves into it.

Do you need to be smart to work as an economist?

You should have a high level of intelligence to work as an economist since you often have to do complex modeling and other data analytics stuff and if you are not smart, you will really struggle in this regard and may be overwhelmed at work quite often.

Do economists have a good work-life balance?

Economists have a pretty decent work-life balance.

Since they don’t have to work at nighttime and also have free weekends and holidays most often, many economists are pretty happy with their salary compared to the workload they have to manage.

Do economists have to work many extra hours?

Economists usually don’t have to work many extra hours.

However, during busy times, it might happen that you have to work some overtime to get things done.

Yet, for most of the year, you will have a rather relaxed time in this regard, especially if you work for the government instead of having a demanding job in the corporate world.

How to maximize your chances of becoming an economist?

The harder you study and the better your grades, the more likely it will be for you to be able to work as an economist.

Apart from that, you should also work as an intern in big corporations for a while to make valuable contacts and to get an edge over the competition when it comes to applying for jobs.

Can economists work part-time?

While economists are able to work part-time in theory, most economists still work full-time since they are just pretty interested in what they are doing and also want to climb the corporate ladder soon and this is just not possible if you are just willing to work part-time.

Do economists work indoors or outdoors?

Economists work indoors and therefore don’t have to care about weather conditions outdoors while many other people who work outdoors suffer from adverse climatic conditions like heat, rain or snow on a regular basis.

What does the workplace of an economist look like?

Economists work in classical office jobs.

Hence, you will often just work in an office building or also from home if teleworking is possible.

Either way, you will use our modern technologies to make your work as efficiently as possible and will often also use more than one computer screen at the same time.

Do you have to look good for working as an economist?

While your looks don’t matter that much for succeeding as an economist, studies have shown that there is still a correlation between success at work and the level of attractiveness and the better you look, the more likely it might be to get promoted soon.

Is an economist career beneficial for your private life?

Since you can make good money, don’t have to work at nighttime and also have enough leisure to spend with your family, working as an economist is the perfect career to combine family and job and chances are that your partner will be really happy with your overall situation and will be unlikely to leave you.

Do you need a college degree for becoming an economist?

You will need at least an undergraduate degree in economics or in a related field to be able to work as an economist.

Even better would be a master’s degree or a doctor’s degree, especially if you want to work in the research department of big corporations where you have to do pretty complex analyzes on a daily basis.

Do you need to be certified to work as an economist?

You don’t need to be certified to work as an economist.

However, some economists still get additional courses or certifications to prove that they are real experts in their fields and may also be able to demand higher wages due to that.

How much does it cost to become an economist?

Since you will have to spend many years in college before you are able to work as an economist, you may have to take on six-figure student loans that you have to pay back sooner or later and you should therefore really make sure that you are willing to work in this field for quite a long time to make it worth the investment.

Is being an economist a good career?

Many economists are pretty satisfied with what they are doing for a living since they are able to make pretty good money while they still have enough time for their hobbies or to spend with their favorite people.

Is it easy to start your own business as an economist?

It is also pretty easy to start your own business as an economist.

Since people will really trust in your expertise when it comes to financial decisions, you can start a financial consulting firm and consult wealthy people on how to invest their money in a proper manner.

You may also want to start a YouTube channel or a blog to build a strong personal brand.

Can economists teach themselves?

While economists can teach themselves to a certain extent, they will still have to go to college to get a degree before they are employable since there are just so many complex things to learn that are hard to do on your own and companies will also not be willing to employ you if you don’t have a degree, even though you might still be sufficiently qualified for the respective position.

Do economists make good money?

Economists can make pretty good money.

In fact, if you are talented and also really ambitious, you can make a six-figure income relatively early in your life while many other people out there can not even dream about making this kind of money.

Is it ever too late to become an economist?

Since it will take you many years before you are finally able to work as an economist, you should not start your education in this field too later.

Otherwise, you would have to spend lots of time and money on something that would not make you enough money to make it worth the initial investment.

Do economists have to quit their careers early?

Since you don’t have to work in a physical manner, most economists don’t have to quit their careers early but can work in their position for many decades until they reach retirement age and can quit their careers in an official manner.

What is the most challenging thing about working as an economist?

The most challenging thing about being an economist is that you will have to work with many complex models and try to figure out what other people had in mind when coming up with their numbers.

Hence, you have to really immerse yourself in those things to finally understand the intuition underlying complex models.

Can you provide for your family by working as an economist?

As an economist, you can make pretty good money and it will therefore be pretty easy to provide for your family.

In fact, your partner will not even have to work anymore but can rather take care of the kids.

Will economists suffer from old-age poverty?

Due to their good salary, most economists don’t suffer from old-age poverty.

Not only will economists get good pensions, but they also know how to save and invest their money wisely to get good returns and to make decent financial decisions in general.

Can economists retire early?

If you don’t spend your money on useless consumption but rather start saving and investing your income from a rather early age, you as an economist may be able to retire in your 50s or even 40s while most other people out there still have to work in their 60s.

Do economists get a fixed or variable salary?

Economists often get a fixed salary while there is still a small variable component that might add up to 5 to 20% of the overall salary.

Hence, even though you might perform rather poorly at work, you may still not make that much less compared to the best people in your company.

Can you get rich as an economist?

While you can make decent money, it will still be hard to get rich as an economist.

If your goal is to really get rich, you should not work as an employed economist but rather start your own business to at least have the small chance to ever get to this point.

Do economists need a second job?

Thanks to their decent salary, economists don’t have to work a second job.

Instead, they can rather spend enough leisure with their families or also do nice weekend trips while many other people out there have to work a second or even a third job and don’t have either time or money for those things.

Do you get continuous training as an economist?

While you will learn most theoretical things in college, you will also get continuous training on the job as an economist.

In fact, our understanding of economic decisions changes quite rapidly and you have to always stay up-to-date with those changes to stay ahead of the game and to stay competitive in the long run.

Do you get paid when you are sick as an economist?

If you work for big renowned corporations, you will often get sick pay and don’t have to worry in this regard that much.

However, if you are not sure, you can still have a look at your employment contract before you sign it to be on the safe side in this regard.

Do economists have a high level of responsibility?

Since the analyses of economists can greatly impact investment decisions of many people, you have a high level of responsibility for society as an economist.

Hence, you should always stay focused to avoid mistakes that may lead to serious adverse outcomes for many people.

Can economists work abroad?

Since economists are needed all over the world, it will also be easy for you to work abroad as an economist.

However, you should still make sure to have good knowledge of the local language since companies might not be willing to employ you otherwise.

Is it stressful to work as an economist?

While there are busy times and you will have to work some extra hours as an economist, you will still have a rather relaxed life for most of the year and working as an economist is therefore not that stressful from an overall perspective.

Is it boring to work as an economist?

Since you will do many different things every day and will also work on complex models and with sophisticated research methods, chances are that you will never get bored as an economist but rather stay curious about all the nice things you can do at your workplace.

Is being an economist hard?

Working as an economist can be hard from a mental and emotional perspective in case you don’t have a high IQ since you will often have to do complex things and if you are overwhelmed at work on a regular basis, chances are that you will just not get happy with what you are doing in the long run.

Are economists at risk of burnout?

Since working as an economist is not that stressful if you learn how to manage your time properly, your risk of suffering from burnout will be rather low.

However, it is still possible and you should therefore know when it is too much for you and just take a break in such situations.

Is there a dress code for economists?

You will often wear a suit or other conservative types of clothing as an economist since you will often work in fields like banking where people are still conservative and really care about your looks and your appearance in general.

What kind of economists are paid the most?

If you want to make really good money as an economist, you should work in the financial industry since there is a lot of money to be made in this field and if you are really good at what you are doing, you can easily make a six-figure income.

What percentage of economists are women?

While 25% of economists are women, 75% are men.

However, while this industry is still dominated by men, it doesn’t mean you can’t succeed as a woman.

It just means that fewer women want to work in this field right now but this may change in the near future.

Do I need a mentor to succeed as an economist?

You don’t need a mentor to succeed in the field of economics.

Yet, it is still important to build a strong business network if you want to climb the corporate ladder soon since it is often more important whom you know compared to what you know.

Will you be personally liable for mistakes as an economist?

As long as you work as a normal employee, you will often not be personally liable for mistakes as an economist.

However, once you get management responsibilities or even start your own company, things may be different and you should therefore get proper insurance in this regard.

Do economists have a high life expectancy?

Since economists are not at great risk of suffering from serious accidents at work and also make good money to afford proper medical treatment in case of medical emergency, economists have a pretty high life expectancy that is clearly above average compared to the general public.

Do economists suffer from sleeping problems?

Since economists don’t have to work at nighttime, they will also not suffer from sleeping problems related to their jobs that much.

In turn, economists can get lots of good sleep and will be full of energy compared to other people who have to work at nighttime and will often be tired throughout the day.

What states are best for working as an economist?

The best states for working as an economist are New York and California since you can simply make the most money by working in big cities in those states while you will also have a pretty high quality of life in general.

Who do economists work with?

Economists work with people from many different departments to get the information and data they need to do their research.

However, you will still not have much contact with the outside world since most of your reports will be done for internal purposes and you will therefore not talk to clients that much.

Is working as an economist cool?

Working as an economist is reasonably cool.

While economists are not that popular among the younger generation, they are still admired by many middle-aged people and you will therefore have a decent social reputation as an economist.

Can you start a side hustle as an economist?

Due to your sophisticated knowledge of financial markets, you will have many options for side hustles as an economist.

For instance, you can start a consulting business on the side or also build your personal brand on social media to monetize your audience in the long run.

Do you have to be creative as an economist?

There is no need to be overly creative as an economist.

In fact, it is much more important that you are good at working with numbers and that you have strong analytical skills while creativity will not matter that much for career success or failure in this industry.

How employable are economists?

Economists are pretty employable and in high demand right now since they can perform complex data analyses and in our data-driven world, good statistical knowledge will be key to make companies successful in the long run.

Are economists happy with their jobs?

Most economists are pretty happy with their jobs since they can make decent money while they still have free weekends and therefore enough time to spend with their loved ones or on their favorite hobbies.

Is working as an economist exciting?

While working as an economist can be exciting during your first months, you will soon develop a certain routine in your job and your initial excitement may vanish pretty soon and may rather turn into stoicism instead.

What are the pros and cons of working as an economist?

If you are still interested in becoming an economist, also make sure to have a look at additional pros and cons of an economist career.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/topics/771/employment/

https://www.statista.com/topics/789/wages-and-salary/

Interviews and own research.

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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