Woman economist holding a notebook and peers at stylized graphs and charts of economic performance
Career Clusters: STEM

What you need to know


Economists study the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services by collecting and analyzing data, researching trends, and evaluating economic issues.

What is this career like?

Although the majority of economists work independently in an office, many collaborations with other economists and statisticians. Most economists work full time during regular

Some of the things an economist might do:

  • 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
What skills are needed?
  • Analytical skills: Economists must be able to review data in detail, observe patterns, perform advanced calculations, and draw logical conclusions. For example, labor economists analyze the effects of labor policies on employment.
  • Critical-thinking skills: Economists must be able to use logic and reasoning to solve complex problems. For instance, they might identify how economic trends may affect an organization.
  • Speaking skills: Economists must be able to explain their work to others. They often give presentations and explain reports to clients who may not have a background in economics.
  • Writing skills: Economists must be able to present their findings clearly. Many economists prepare reports for colleagues or clients; others write for publication in journals or for news media.
What is the pay?

The average pay for economists in the United States ranges from $59,450 to $185,020 as of May 2019.

The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

Employment of economists is projected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.

Businesses and organizations across many industries use economic analysis and quantitative methods to analyze and forecast business, sales, and other economic trends. Demand for economists should come from the increasing complexity of the global economy, additional financial regulations, and a more competitive business environment.

What education is required?

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.

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.

Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Economics.