How Much Does an Economist Make? (With Useful FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 4 September 2022

Published 29 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When deciding which career path you wish to pursue, you may want to consider the earning potential within your desired job role. Economists play an important role in both the public and private sector, providing the necessary financial and economical advice that guide government and business decisions. With such a large responsibility to use specialist knowledge to guide a wide range of organisations, you may be wondering, 'how much does an economist make?' In this article, we explain the salary expectations for economists across the UK and answer some frequently asked questions surrounding the position.

How much does an economist make?

The average salary of an economist is £44,028 per year but typically ranges from £25,000 to in excess of £75,000 across the UK, according to the National Careers Service. There are multiple factors that can impact the earning potential of an economist. These factors include:

  • Experience: The highest paying jobs for economists are typically proportionate to the number of years of experience working within the industry and the level of responsibility within the position.

  • Location: Larger towns and cities typically pay economists a higher salary than more rural locations.

  • Employer: Economists can work in both public or private sector roles, and the amount that they can earn may vary depending on their employer.

Related: Top 10 Jobs That Pay Well in the UK

Highest paying cities for economists

The amount an economist can make may vary depending on geographical location. The average salary for economists within the highest paying cities across the UK are:

  • Lisburn: £37,624 per year

  • Edinburgh: £41,988 per year

  • Birmingham: £45,493 per year

  • Cardiff: £45,820 per year

  • London: £47,595 per year

  • Southampton: £48,774 per year

  • Glasgow: £49,059 per year

  • Manchester: £56,295 per year

Other employers of economists

Economists are employed within a wide range of industries, so there are multiple sectors that you could hope to work in throughout your career. The largest employer of economists in the UK is the Government Economic Service. They act as a professional body for economists within the public sector and recruit across various government departments and agencies. Banks are another big employer of economists; they sometimes also offer graduate training and developmental programmes for economists looking to improve their skills. Other employers of economists include:

  • higher education facilities

  • banks, insurance and accountancy firms

  • trade unions

  • local authorities and regional development agencies

  • political parties

  • management and specialist economic consultancies

  • financial journals and newspapers

A number of large businesses may also seek the guidance of economists to study and analyse data, which can then be used to guide their decision making and strategies. The prospects for a career in economics are extremely varied, and you could have the opportunity to experience a number of different working environments and responsibilities, all carrying various salary expectations.

Related: What Are the Benefits of a Graduate Scheme?

Frequently asked questions

Here are a number of frequently asked questions regarding the job of an economist:

What do economists do?

As the number of employment industries for economists is so varied, the role of an economist is relatively diverse. The typical overview of an economist's role is to analyse information using different theories, concepts and analytical techniques. This research is then used to make forecasts of economic trends that can be used to guide various organisations on their business decision making. It's important that economists can present their findings in a manner that is diplomatically understood and accurate enough to inform conclusions that can impact the whole of society.

Although the responsibilities of an economist may vary depending on their position, typical day-to-day tasks can include:

  • creating innovative methods and procedures for obtaining and analysing data

  • collecting and analysing data related to numerous economic issues

  • using advanced mathematics and statistical analysis to draw conclusions from data

  • presenting data to a range of stakeholders using reports, charts and tables

  • using various financial modelling techniques to develop accurate forecasts

  • assessing and analysing market trends to make predictions about the future

  • advising policymakers when creating policies to solve economic problems

  • using data to test the effectiveness of policies, products or services

  • suggesting alternative courses of action to improve upon organisational strategies

What are the areas of specialisation in economics?

As the field of economics is so vast and complex, there are several sub specialities of economics that you could choose to enter into. Some of these specialisations include:

  • Public economics: focus their studies on government finance and policies, analysing how they influence the wider economy

  • Econometrics: use complex mathematics, statistical analysis and computer science to draw conclusions about various economic trends and facts

  • Economic history: this is the exploration of previous economic trends and the evolution of economic institutions to provide perspective on present-day economic issues

  • Development economics: deals with the economic aspects of development processes across low-income countries

  • Environmental economics: the study of how environmental problems such as global warming, pollution and deforestation, for example, alongside government policies, impact the economy

  • Health economics: focus on issues related to the efficiency and effectiveness of government policy and market behaviour that impact the provision of and access to healthcare

  • Industrial organisation economics: study the structure of firms within individual markets to determine how businesses can manage against real-world complications in a competitive environment

  • Labour economics: examine the various dynamics within the market for wage labour, such as minimum wage laws, trade unions, pension plans and worker incentive programmes

  • Macroeconomics: focus on the performance of whole economies, analysing changes in inflation, rates of unemployment and government set fiscal policies and how they impact the wider economy

  • Microeconomics: seeks to understand how the behaviours of individuals, households and firms, their interactions and the allocation of resources impact the price of goods and services available to the population

  • International economics: study how global financial markets and exchange rates can impact international trade and prices

Related: 14 of the Best Paid Jobs in Finance

What qualifications do you need to become an economist?

To become an economist, you typically need a bachelor's degree with a 2:1 or higher in economics. You could also complete a joint degree, combining economics with another relevant subject such as:

  • mathematics

  • finance

  • law

  • politics

  • business

If you opt to proceed with a combined course, make sure that at least 50% of the course modules include a focus on economics. It's not uncommon for employers to favour candidates who have a postgraduate qualification in economics, such as a master's degree or a PhD. You can also enter the profession by completing a degree-level apprenticeship in economics, which combines working as a government economist while studying for your qualification. Entry requirements for degree level economics study typically require two to three A-levels, including either maths or economics.

Related: What Is a Bachelor's Degree?

What skills do economists need?

To become successful in the field of economics, economists typically require the following skills:

  • Maths knowledge: Economists deal with large amounts of financial and numerical data, so an aptitude for maths is highly beneficial within this profession.

  • Critical thinking: An analytical mind with the ability to use logic and reason can help economists to solve complex issues in their chosen field.

  • Analytical skills: To organise and review the large amounts of data economists deal with, economists must be able to use advanced methods to discover patterns and trends that can be used to draw relevant conclusions.

  • Attention to detail: When dealing with complex data and drawing conclusions that influence government policy and society as a whole, it's essential that economists are detail-oriented to avoid making impactful mistakes.

  • Verbal communication skills: Economists are often required to present their findings to people with very little or no economic background. It's essential that they can relay information in a way that can be easily understood.

  • Written communication skills: Findings may also need to be presented to a wider audience using written reports which may then be used by coworkers, clients or economic publications. Therefore it's necessary for your writing to be clear and precise.

  • IT skills: Economists often rely on complex computer programs to help them analyse large amounts of data, confidence and proficiency in IT is a beneficial skill in most economics positions.

  • Organisational skills: It's common for economists to work to tight deadlines, excellent time management, and the ability to prioritise different tasks and remain organised are necessary when handling multiple large projects.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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