Economists collect and analyze data, research trends, and evaluate economic issues for resources, goods, and services.
What they do
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.
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.
How to become an Economist
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.
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.
The median annual wage for economists was $105,020 in May 2019. 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 $59,450, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $185,020.
Employment of economists is projected to grow 14 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 2,900 new jobs over the decade. 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.
Similar Job Titles
Economic Analyst, Economic Consultant, Economic Development Specialist, Economist, Forensic Economist, Project Economist, Research Analyst, Research Associate, Revenue Research Analyst, Tax Economist
Operations Research Analyst, Sociologist, Political Scientist, Business Teacher-Postsecondary, Economics Teacher-Postsecondary
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- Agricultural and Applied Economics Association
- American Economic Association
- American Finance Association
- American Law and Economics Association
- Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management
- Financial Management Association International
- International Association for Energy Economics
- International Association for Feminist Economics
- International Economic Development Council
- National Association for Business Economics
Magazines and Publications
According to its Greek origins, the word “economics” described the management of a person’s household. While today’s economists may study individual behavior, or broaden their focus to communities, countries, and even global patterns, the field still pursues the improvement of conditions for people’s lives. Economists study the patterns of production, distribution, and consumption of resources, goods, and services. They conduct surveys, analyze data, and communicate their findings in reports and charts to make the data understandable to others. Economists work in fields from education to health and the environment. They may study the psychological and social factors of economic decision making, analyze savings, investments and risk, study international trade, or focus on the economic role of government It’s common for economists to study historical trends to forecast future patterns. Math skills are essential. Most economists work in an office, generally full time, although a deadline can require more than 40 hours per week until it’s met. While they mostly work independently, many economists collaborate and work in teams with other economists and statisticians. A master’s degree or Ph.D. is required for most economist positions. A bachelor’s degree in economics may qualify candidates for some entry-level economist positions, especially with government offices, or for jobs as research assistants or analysts in business, finance, and consulting.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org