Economists - What They Do

Economists How to Advance (Advancement)

With experience or an advanced degree, economists may advance to positions of greater responsibility, including administration and independent research.

Many people with an economics background become teachers. A master's degree usually is the minimum requirement for a job as an instructor in a community college. In most colleges and universities, however, a Ph.D. is necessary for appointment as an instructor. A Ph.D. and publications in academic journals are required for a professorship, tenure, and promotion.

Job Outlook

Employment of economists is projected to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 1,600 openings for economists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


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.



The median annual wage for economists was $105,630 in May 2021. 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 $62,460, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $193,690.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for economists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

  • Finance and insurance - $163,640
  • Federal government, excluding postal service - $125,950
  • Management, scientific, and technical consulting services - $117,510
  • Scientific research and development services - $101,910
  • State government, excluding education and hospitals - $82,220

Most economists work full time. Some perform work that may require overtime hours.

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Academic Programs of Interest

Agricultural Economics
Agricultural economics tends to be more microeconomic oriented. Many undergraduate Agricultural Economics degrees tend to be more like a traditional business degree rather than a traditional economics degree.

At the graduate level, many agricultural economics programs focus on a wide variety of applied microeconomic topics. During the last decades, graduates from Agricultural Economics departments find jobs in diversified sectors of the economy; from corporations to... more
Applied Mathematics
At some schools, there is a single mathematics department, whereas others have separate departments for Applied Mathematics and Pure Mathematics. It is very common for Statistics departments to be separate at schools with graduate programs, but many undergraduate-only institutions include statistics under the mathematics department.

If you are thinking about a career in Applied Mathematics, you might want to consider the following emerging fields: Computational... more
Economics is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. Most major universities and many colleges have a major, school, or department in which academic degrees are awarded in the subject, whether in the liberal arts, business, or for professional study. more
Managerial Economics
Managerial economics is a branch of economics that applies microeconomic analysis to specific business decisions. As such, it bridges economic theory and economics in practice. It draws heavily from quantitative techniques such as regression analysis and correlation, Lagrangian calculus (linear). If there is a unifying theme that runs through most of managerial economics it is the attempt to optimize business decisions given the firm's objectives... more