How to Become An Economist

Economist Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $111,980
Avg. Pay / hour $53.84
Education 3-4 Years
Job Outlook 6.1%

An economist is a financial researcher, analyst, and also forecaster.

With a keen understanding of financial markets, they gather information, look for trends, and predict what will happen in the future when it comes to resources, money, and finance.

Economists have great skills in logic, as well as mathematics.

They are problems solvers, have a keen attention to detail, and are apt in academics.

If you enjoy working with research, statistics, and find financial markets intriguing, then you might consider a career as an economist.

Education Requirements to Become an Economist

To become an economist, you’ll need to have a four year Bachelor Degree with a focus on business and economics.

Take subjects like business, marketing , finance, accounting and economics.

Having an understanding of politics and industry can also be helpful, as these sectors are closely linked with the economy, both locally and globally.

Most successful economist have an MBA or PhD in economics, or a similar field within business.

The pathway many people take is to first complete their four year undergraduate degree, and find a job somewhere within business.

While they are gaining experience and earning money, they take on postgraduate study part time.

While you’re studying, it’s advisable to take on internship programs and any other work experience you can get.

Even if you are making coffee in a strong company, you are still learning as well as meeting people in the industry.

Networking is going to be an important part of your career, and it’s never too early to start.

Learning as much as you can about areas other than finance is also important to become an economist.

You will need to have strong communication skills as an economist, especially written, so taking subjects in English or Writing is a good idea.

Knowledge of state, federal, and international law can also be of help.

You can find more useful information from the American Economic Association, or the National Association of Business Economists.

Economist Job Description

An economist will spend most of their time looking at data and predicting trends.

There are many different kinds of market they might work within.

Some work with currency and interest rates, others in inflation, some look at the pricing of consumer goods, some analyze tax, and others consider wages and unemployment.

There are many different areas you could pursue as an economist, depending on your strengths and interests.

Here are some of the duties of an economist:

  • Collecting raw data
  • Conducting research studies
  • Analyzing Data
  • Predicting Trends
  • Preparing Reports

Economist Salary and Career Path

Most economists start their career working in other parts of the business sector.

For instance, you might work as a financial researcher, an accountant, or as an assistant to an economist.

Working as an economist takes more than just study, you also need to build experience in the industry and earn the respect of your peers.

After you have done this, you can expect to start work as an economist.

While some economists spend most of their time researching, others have more high profile jobs and earn media presence.

You may find yourself writing a column, or even giving public speeches.

Some economists may work in government roles, for financial planning firms, for political parties, banks and lenders, in academia, or in many other sectors.

Some may become self-employed and run a consulting business.

The job prospects for an economist are good, with better than average growth predicted in this industry.

It’s important to also point out, that while there is job opportunity for experienced economists, getting a start can be difficult.

Many spend years working in sales, accountancy, or research before they get a job as an economist.

The median wage for an economist is $80,000.

Earlier on in your career you can expect to earn close to $60,000.

The top economists demand more than $150,000 a year.

The path to become an economist is demanding, there is a good deal of education needed, as well as experience in the business world.

However, if you find statistics and finance intriguing, then it’s likely that you will find working as an economist rewarding.

Gaining a position may be difficult, but for those that do there are excellent benefits and salary available.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$140,690
New Hampshire$124,880
New Jersey$97,300
New Mexico$75,770
New York$152,810
South Carolina$71,110

The top earning state in the field is New York, where the average salary is $152,810.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New York - $152,810
District of Columbia - $140,690
California - $137,350
New Hampshire - $124,880
Illinois - $124,530
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Economists, OCC Code 19-3011, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an economist do?

In general, an economist is a specialist in economics.

The person who attained a Ph.D. in economics, teaches the subject, and has published literature is considered to be an economist.

However, it is also someone who studies the distribution of goods, services, and resources.

Economists can be engaged in a wide range of fields.

Specialists can work in the federal, local, and state government and make forecasts by studying historical trends, as well as analyze the economic impact of regulations and laws.

If an economist works for a corporation, his or her main aim is to figure out how the economy is going to affect the business.

Economists can also be teachers and professors.

Typically, the responsibilities of an economist include collecting data; researching economic issues; forecasting market trends; making recommendations for solving economic problems; giving advice on economic topics, and so on.

How much do economists make?

On average, economists make about $70.000 annually in the United States.

If you want to become an economist, you can expect to earn anywhere between $60.000 and $108.500 per year.

The wage will depend on your education, experience and on the company or individual that you have decided to work for.

Entry-level economists earn a little more than $28 per hour, while top-level specialists can make around $52.

Economists that have over 10 years of experience in the field can expect to earn six-figure salaries.

How much does it cost to become an economist?

In case you want to become an economist, you would have to obtain at least a bachelor’s degree.

However, a lot of employers prefer to work with specialists who have a master’s degree or Ph.D.

A year in school can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $60.000 depending on whether you are an in-state student or not, whether the school is public or private and on the overall prestige of the institution.

Accommodation, books, supplies, and living expenses can cost you around $15.000-$25.000 per year.

What is the demand for economists?

Between 2016 and 2026, the economist job market is expected to grow by 6.1%.

The industry will be providing low employment opportunities in the near future.

Some of the responsibilities can be conducted by computers, so the need in economists will slowly decrease.

Specialists with a master’s degree or Ph.D. will have more chances in finding a well-paid job.

The industry is concentrated in Virginia, District of Columbia, and California.

How long does it take to become an economist?

You would need at least a bachelor’s degree to become an economist.

It will take you 4 years to obtain that one and then you will be able to apply for entry-level positions in the federal government, for example.

It is recommended to pursue an advanced degree in economics if you want to apply for a well-paid job.

A Ph.D. requires a few years of study.

Bear in mind that you would have to choose a specialty field and perform detailed research to obtain a Ph.D.

You might want to seek an internship to gain the necessary experience.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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