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An economist is a professional who uses economic analysis to study the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services. They may also work on developing financial policies and managing public finance.

What Do Economists Do?

People in economist jobs may do any or all of the following:

  • Collect and analyze data
  • Forecast economic trends
  • Evaluate economic policy
  • Research new products or services
  • Monitor financial markets
  • Advise businesses on how best to manage their finances

On an average day, an economist might crunch numbers, meet with clients, or write a research paper.

Where Do Economists Work?

Most economist jobs exist in the government, at think tanks, or inside consulting firms. Some also work in the private sector for companies that deal with economic research and analysis, such as banks or insurance companies. Others may teach at colleges and universities.

When working for government agencies, an economist might help develop economic policy or monitor financial markets. They might also work on regulating banks and insurance companies.

At think tanks, economists often conduct research on specific economic issues. They then present their findings in the form of reports or briefs.

In consulting firms, economist jobs may entail providing clients with analysis of financial data, forecasting future trends, and evaluating economic policy.

What Degree is Required to Become an Economist?

Most economist jobs require at least a master’s degree in economics, although some entry-level positions may only require a bachelor’s degree.

A Ph.D. is often required for advanced economist jobs in research or academia. Economics programs typically include coursework in microeconomics, macroeconomics, statistics, and econometrics.

An aspiring economist can gain experience through internships, where they might perform economic analysis, research economic trends and issues, conduct forecasts, and write reports based on their findings.

Many universities help students gain real-world experience by working with government agencies, businesses, or nonprofit organizations. Due to the higher degree requirements for many economist jobs, most people in this field invest extra years in their education.

How Much Money Does an Economist Earn?

The median annual salary for economists comes in at about $108,000. Median wage means that half of all economists earn more than this amount. The other half makes less than $108,000 each year.

The top 10% of economists bring in over $198,000 per year. The bottom 10% of the pay scale earns around $59,000.

Here are the median annual earnings for economists working inside the highest-paying industries.

  • State government (excluding hospitals and education): $73,000
  • Technical, scientific, and management consulting services: $111,000
  • Development, research, and scientific services: $122,000
  • Federal government (excluding postal service): $125,000
  • Insurance and finance: $129,000

While it’s sometimes a requirement to work overtime at certain times of the year, the average economist works a regular full-time schedule.

Economist Job Requirements

The skills that economist jobs require will vary depending on the position. However, some of the most common skills include the following.

Critical thinking and analysis: Economists must be able to look at data and see beyond the surface to understand what is happening with the economy.

Profit and loss analysis: An economist needs to understand a company’s financials and how they’re affected by economic conditions.

Financial modeling: Economists often use models to predict future economic trends.

Statistical analysis: Economists must possess skills for analyzing data and drawing conclusions from it.

Econometric models: These models help economists understand how different factors impact the economy. An economist can’t perform his or her job adequately without a firm grasp of econometric models

Communication skills: Economist jobs often require communicating findings to others, such as clients or policy-makers.

Writing skills: Many economist jobs require writing reports, papers, and briefs on their findings.

Ability to work independently: Many economists work independently, without much supervision.

Time management skills: Economists often have to juggle multiple projects at once and meet deadlines.

Ability to be detail-oriented: Economists need to pay close attention to data and ensure that their findings are accurate.

Math skills: Economists use a lot of math in their work, from basic arithmetic to more complex statistical analysis.

Some economist jobs may also require specific knowledge or experience in a certain area, such as healthcare, energy, or the environment.

Economist Career Path

There are several paths an economist can take to advance their career. Some economists become managers or supervisors, while others may move into consulting or teaching positions. A few economist jobs allow for specialization in certain areas such as financial economics, labor economics, public finance, or international economics.

Here are a few specific examples of the different paths that an economist can take to advance their career.

Government economist: Work for a government agency and help develop economic policy or monitor financial markets.

Bank economist: Work for a bank and provide analysis of financial data, forecast future trends, and evaluate economic policy.

Insurance company economist: Work for an insurance company and help develop new products, analyze claims data, or set premiums.

Academic economist: Teach at a college or university and conduct research on the economy.

Think tank economist: Conduct research on specific economic issues and present findings in reports or briefs.

Overall, the economist job market will grow faster than all other occupations. It’s expected to grow by 13% through 2030. More than 1600 economist jobs will open up each year over the next decade. The fast job growth will occur because of the increasing demand for economist jobs in both the public and private sectors.

Demand is increasing due to the ever-changing economy and the need for more economist jobs that can provide accurate analysis.

Organizations and companies across all sectors need people who can provide quantitative methods and economic analysis techniques to study and forecast market, sales, and business trends. Many businesses and banks require economists to apply big data analysis to vital areas such as advertising and pricing.

Overall, the increasing complexity of the global economy has led to a greater demand for economist jobs in various industries. As a result, those with economist skills are in high demand and can often find jobs with good pay and benefits.

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