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Conduct research, prepare reports, or formulate plans to address economic problems related to the production and distribution of goods and services or monetary and fiscal policy. May collect and process economic and statistical data using sampling techniques and econometric methods.
Titles for this career often contain these words
About 72% of economists have a graduate-level education, and 100% have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by economists
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Context: workers with graduate degrees
More economists have graduate degrees than 96% of other careeers.
Workforce size
Economists, with 21,000 workers, form a smaller workforce than 73% of careers.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for economists are expected to grow by 8%, and should have about 1,800 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Economists are less likely to be automated than 61% of other careers.
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for economists compare to other jobs' salaries?
Distribution: What salary can you expect?
See what most economists earn.
Women account for 30% of economists -- that's a smaller percentage than 57% of other jobs.
Gender of economists
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For economists, the median men's salary was 11% more the median woman's salary.
About 23% of economists are minority, and 33% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of economists
Pacific Islander
American Indian
Context: Foreign-born workers (33%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Economists per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. Blue indicates low density, with lighter shades moving to yellow indicating higher numbers working in this profession.
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs?
Context: Employer offers health insurance
Context: Employer offers a pension plan
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of economists who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (40%)
Salary and diversity
What do economists earn?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides company-reported job titles and corresonding salaries. This data excludes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for economists (BLS Salary Data)
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
The American Community Survey (ACS) asks individuals to report their occupation and salary, and as such includes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for economists (ACS Salary Data)
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
Economists: Inflation-adjusted salary trend
This job's median $99KAll jobs' median $45K$112K$44K070809101112131415161718$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire economists.
Employers of Economists (ACS)
Private for-profit (36.1%)
Private not-for-profit (12.7%)
Local government (9.3%)
State government (8.9%)
Federal government (31.7%)
Self-employed incorporated (0.5%)
Self-employed not incorporated (0.8%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of economists by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$99K$103K$90K$74K$112K$79K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000$200,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of economists by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Salary growth for economists

Is this a job that rewards experience, or is this job most likely a part of a career ladder? The higher a job's experience quotient, the more experience is rewarded with pay increases. Jobs in the green range have the best rewards with experience.

Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?

Salary distribution
Number employed

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Economists and gender

With 30% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 57% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
Gender of Economists
Men (70%)
Women (30%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is a little better for economists, with the median salary for men 11% higher than the median salary for women.

Context: Salary Inequity

The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary for all but about 20 jobs in which women typically earn more than men. Economists have one of the smaller inequity calculations, with the increase for men's median salary over women's median salary in this job lower than that for 67% of other jobs.


We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Race and origin of economists

Here we check out the diversity of origin in this career. There is a higher percentage of minority economists than for 62% of other careers. This career hires a larger percentage of foreign-born workers than most other careers.

Race/origin of economists
White (74% )
Asian (14% )
Black (6% )
Other (2% )
Multiracial (2% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
Distribution: Salaries for economists by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

Distribution: Salaries for economists by nativity
$96K$108K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Economists and Part-time/Full-time employment

We've found that somes jobs hava a huge number of part-time workers, and that typically most who are working part-time are doing so because they cannot find full-time work or the job they have cannot provide full-time hours. With 5% part-time workers, this occupation has a lower percentage of part-time workers than 77% of careers.

Context: Part-time workers in the workforce
Why workers are part-time
Full-Time is less than 35 hours a week
Retired/Social Security limit on earnings
Could not find full-time work
Seasonal work
Slack work/business conditions
Health/medical limitations
Child care problems
Other family/personal obligations
Other reasons
Distribution: Salaries by part-time/full-time status

We only have enough data to accuarately show the salary distribution for full-time workers.

$99K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KFull-time workers
Pathways to this career
Education attained by economists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), economists typically hold a master's degree.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as economists as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.

Details: Education and training recommended for economists

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.

Education attained by economists
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for economists? Below we see the distribution of economists salaries based on the education attained.

$79K$98K$107K$140K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KBachelor's Degree (28%)Master's Degree (41%)Professional Degree (3%)Doctorate (27%)

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

College majors held by economists

This table shows the college majors held by people working as economists.

If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!

Percentage of Economists with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
The link between degrees and careers

With the following sankey diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as economists, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. We hope this provides ideas for similar jobs and similar fields of study.

Lawyers, and judges, magi...Specialized ManagersFinancial ManagersAccountants and AuditorsChief executives and legi...Management AnalystsPersonal Financial Adviso...First-Line Supervisors of...Postsecondary TeachersFinancial and Investment ...Elementary and Middle Sch...Education and childcare a...Paralegals and Legal Assi...First-Line Supervisors of...Wholesale and Manufacturi...Labor Relations Specialis...Customer Service Represen...Retail SalespersonsSecurities, Commodities, ...Loan OfficersSoftware DevelopersSecondary School TeachersComputer ProgrammersComputer and Information ...Computer Systems AnalystsActuariesFirst-Line Supervisors of...Bookkeeping, Accounting, ...Specialized Social Worker...Educational, Guidance, an...Specialized PsychologistsRegistered NursesEconomicsPolitical Science andGovernmentBusiness Management andAdministrationGeneral BusinessFinanceMathematicsHistoryAccountingPsychologyBusiness EconomicsAll other degreesThis jobTop 10 majorsEach major's top ten jobs
What college major is your best entry?

Almost all of people working as economists have at least a bachelor's degree. Each dot represents a college major leading to these jobs, with the dots to the right representing the majors sending the most of their grads into this career. The dots at the top are the majors who earn the most working in this career.

Darker colors have a larger percentage with graduate degreesOverall median salary0.0%5.0%10.0%15.0%20.0%25.0%30.0%35.0%40.0%45.0%Percentage with this major$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000$120,000$140,000$160,000Median salary with this major
Switching Careers
The most common next careers for economists

What jobs will most economists hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of economists reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

EconomistsManagement AnalystsComputer and Information Systems ManagersntsAcsOcc_9140Secretaries and administrative assistantsMarketing and sales managersAccountants and AuditorsSpecialized ManagersChief executives and legislatorsBilling and Posting ClerksMiscellaneous community and social service specialistsGeneral Office ClerksSpecialized appearance workers, including nail and skincareSpecialized Life ScientistsUrban and Regional PlannersSpecialized Physical Scientists
Lateral job transitions for economists

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 3 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as economists as well as 1% of respondents after working as economists. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

How many people have this job?
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
No degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Prior and next careers for economists: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as economists? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of economists surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Variation by state
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most economists? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as economists. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
Number of Economists per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where economists earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for economists compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for economists.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
Location-adjusted median salary
Median salary
Use this data source
Location-adjusted median salary for Economists (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which economists earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the tabs and education selector to find other careers that might be a good fit for you.

How should the career similarity be computed?

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?