Economists perform economic research and analysis, develop and apply theories about production and distribution of goods and services and people's spending and financial behaviour, and provide advice to governments and organisations on economic policy issues.
Also known as: Economic Analyst.
Specialisations: Agricultural Economist, Econometrician, Economic Forecaster, Environmental Economist, Health Economist, Labour Market Economist, Mineral Economist, Taxation Economist.
A bachelor degree in economics is needed to work as an Economist. Many workers have a postgraduate qualification.
analysing interrelationships between economic variables and studying the effects of government fiscal and monetary policies, expenditure, taxation and other budgetary policies on the economy and the community
researching, analysing and assessing the effects of labour market programs and industry policies and programs on economic growth, welfare, education and training
investigating international and national economic situations, and particular features such as industries, regions and socioeconomic groups
studying workplace issues such as enterprise bargaining and wage fixation, and the effect of workplace policies on productivity and economic growth
analysing trends and advising on economic issues such as taxation levels, prices, employment and unemployment, imports and exports, and interest and exchange rates
forecasting changes in the economic environment for short-term budgeting, long-term planning and investment evaluation
formulating recommendations, policies and plans for the economy, corporate strategies and investment, and undertaking feasibility studies for projects
preparing reports on research findings
JSA produces employment projections to show where likely future job opportunities may be. The latest data are for the five years from November 2021 to November 2026. Over this period, the number of workers in this occupation is likely to remain stable.
Source: Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Notes: The number employed includes people who work in this occupation as their main job. People who work in more than one job are counted against the occupation they work the most hours in.
Employment projections figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Calculations based on these rounded figures may result in differences to the numbers that are displayed on this page. Employment projections data (including occupations) can be downloaded from the Employment Projections page.
Number of Workers
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, ABS seasonally adjusted data to November 2021 and Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Earnings and hours
Around 84% of people employed as Economists work full-time hours, in all their jobs combined. This is 18 percentage points above the all jobs average (66%).
Full-time workers work an average of 44 hours per week in their main job. This is the same as the all jobs average.
More than half of workers regularly work overtime or extra hours (either paid or unpaid).
Median full-time earnings are $1,815 per week, this is much higher than the all jobs median ($1,593):
- 3 in 4 workers earn more than $1,390
- 1 in 4 earn more than $2,450
Median hourly earnings are $49, this is more than the all jobs median ($41 per hour).
Sources: Full-time share and full-time hours: ABS, 2016 Census, customised report. Compared to the all jobs average. Overtime hours: ABS, Characteristics of Employment, 2021. Full-time median earnings and median hourly earnings: ABS, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021. Compared to all jobs median.
Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)
|Earnings||Economists||All Jobs Average|
Source: Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021, Customised Report. Median weekly total cash earnings for full-time non-managerial employees paid at the adult rate. Earnings are before tax and include amounts salary sacrificed. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
Economists work in industries like:
- Public administration and safety
- Professional, scientific and technical services
- Financial and insurance services
- Education and training.
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2021.
Employment across Australia
Employment by State and Territory (% Share)
|State||Economists||All Jobs Average|
Around 90% of Economists live in capital cities, compared with the all jobs average of 62%.
The Australian Capital Territory has a large share of employment relative to its population size.
The regions with the largest share of workers are:
- Australian Capital Territory
- Melbourne - Inner
- Sydney - North Sydney and Hornsby
- Sydney - City and Inner South
- Sydney - Eastern Suburbs.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian states, territories and regions, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age and gender
The median age of Economists is 37 years. This is similar to the all jobs average of 40 years.
A large share of workers are aged 25 to 34 years.
Females make up 33% of the workforce. This is 15 percentage points below the all jobs average of 48%.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile and gender share compared to the all jobs average.
Age Profile (% Share)
|Age Bracket||Economists||All Jobs Average|
|65 and Over||3.7||4.2|
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Education, training and experience
A bachelor degree in economics is needed to work as an Economist. Many workers have a postgraduate qualification.
- Course Seeker to search and compare higher education courses.
- ComparED to compare undergraduate and postgraduate student experiences and outcomes.
Highest Level of Education (% Share)
|Type of Qualification||Economists||All Jobs Average|
|Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate||50.2||10.1|
|Year 10 and below||0.1||12.5|
Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Skills and Knowledge
Employers look for Economists who have strong attention to detail, can communicate clearly with a wide variety of people and can work well in a team.
Skills can be improved through training or experience.
Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
Reading work related information.
Writing things for co-workers or customers.
Using maths to solve problems.
Talking to others.
61%Judgment and decision making
Figuring out the pros and cons of different options and choosing the best one.
Figuring out how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect it.
Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
59%Complex problem solving
Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.
Measuring how well a system is working and how to improve it.
Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.
Figuring out the best way to teach or learn something new.
Talking people into changing their minds or their behaviour.
Teaching people how to do something.
Managing your own and other peoples' time to get work done.
43%Coordination with others
Being adaptable and coordinating work with other people.
Looking for ways to help people.
Understanding why people react the way they do.
34%Management of personnel resources
Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, and choosing the best people for the job.
These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.
83%Economics and accounting
Economics and accounting, the financial markets, banking and checking and reporting of financial data.
English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
63%Education and training
Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
59%Computers and electronics
Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
55%Administration and management
Business principles involved in strategic planning, leadership, and coordinating people and resources.
Describing land, sea, and air, including their physical characteristics, locations, how they work together, and the location of plant, animal, and human life.
48%Law and government
How our laws and courts work. Government rules and regulations, and the political system.
45%Sociology and anthropology
Group behaviour and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
Human behaviour; differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; research methods; assessing and treating disorders.
42%History and archeology
Events of the past, their causes, how we learn about them, and how they influence the way we live today.
40%Customer and personal service
Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.
38%Communications and media
Media production, communication, and dissemination. Includes written, spoken, and visual media.
33%Personnel and human resources
Recruiting and training people, managing pay and other entitlements (like sick leave), and negotiating pay and conditions.
33%Sales and marketing
Showing, promoting, and selling including marketing strategy, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
33%Philosophy and theology
Philosophical systems and religions, including their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and impact on society.
Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.
25%Production and processing
Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.
Moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road.
Transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
Workers use these physical and mental abilities..
Write in a way that people can understand.
Communicate by speaking.
Listen to and understand what people say.
Read and understand written information.
63%Working with numbers
Add, subtract, multiply, or divide.
Use general rules to find answers or solve problems logically.
Use lots of detailed information to come up with answers or make general rules.
Choose the right maths method or formula to solve a problem.
Come up with a number of ideas about a topic, even if the ideas aren't very good.
Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.
Speak clearly so others can understand you.
See details that are up-close (within a few feet).
52%Sorting or ordering
Order or arrange things in a pattern or sequence (e.g., numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Identify and understand the speech of another person.
Come up with unusual or clever ideas, or creative ways to solve a problem.
Come up with different ways of grouping things.
Remember things like words, numbers, pictures, and procedures.
See details that are far away.
37%Flexibility of closure
See a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) hidden in other distracting material.
Pay attention to something without being distracted.
These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.
94%Making sense of information and ideas
Looking at, working with, and understanding data or information.
86%Collecting and organising information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or checking information or data.
86%Keeping your knowledge up-to-date
Keeping up-to-date with technology and new ideas.
84%Researching and investigating
Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.
83%Making decisions and solving problems
Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.
82%Explaining things to people
Helping people to understand and use information.
80%Giving expert advice
Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups.
Using your own ideas for developing, designing, or creating something new.
76%Looking for changes over time
Comparing objects, actions, or events. Looking for differences between them or changes over time.
74%Training and teaching others
Understanding the needs of others, developing training programs, and teaching or instructing.
74%Communicating within a team
Giving information to co-workers by telephone, in writing, or in person.
71%Communicating with the public
Giving information to the public, business or government by telephone, in writing, or in person.
71%Planning and prioritising work
Deciding on goals and putting together a detailed plan to get the work done.
70%Working with computers
Using computers to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
59%Building good relationships
Building good working relationships and keeping them over time.
59%Assessing and evaluating things
Working out the value, importance, or quality of things, services or people.
57%Coming up with systems and processes
Deciding on goals and figuring out what you need to do to achieve them.
57%Estimating amounts, costs and resources
Working out sizes, distances, amounts, time, costs, resources, or materials needed for a task.
56%Guiding and directing staff
Guiding and directing staff, including setting and monitoring performance standards.
43%Documenting or recording information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Interests and demands
Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.
Interests are the style or type of work we prefer to do. All interest areas are shown below.
Ideas and thinking. Searching for facts and figuring out problems in your head.
Following set procedures and routines. Working with numbers and details more than with ideas, usually following rules.
Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.
Working with forms, designs and patterns. Often need self-expression and can be done without following rules.
Practical, hands-on work. Often with plants and animals, or materials like wood, tools, and machinery.
Working with people. Helping or providing service to others.
Job security and good working conditions. There is usually a steady flow of interesting work, and the pay and conditions are generally good.
Work alone and make decisions. Workers are able to try out their own ideas, make decisions on their own, and work with little or no supervision.
Results oriented. Workers are able to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.
Advancement and the potential to lead. Workers are recognised for the work that they do, they may give directions and instructions to others, and they are looked up to in their company and their community.
Supportive management that stands behind employees. Workers are treated fairly by their company, they are supported by management, and have supervisors who train them well.
Serve and work with others. Workers usually get along well with each other, do things to help other people, and are rarely pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
Use electronic mail.
Talk with people face-to-face.
91%Freedom to make decisions
Have freedom to make decision on your own.
Have freedom to decide on tasks, priorities, and goals.
86%Indoors, heat controlled
Work indoors with access to heating or cooling.
86%Spend time sitting
Spend time sitting at work.
82%Being exact or accurate
Be very exact or highly accurate.
Talk on the telephone.
Compete with others, or be aware of competitive pressures.
Work to strict deadlines.
72%Contact with people
Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.
72%Letters and memos
Write letters and memos.
70%Impact of decisions
Make decisions that have a large impact on other people.
Talk to a group of people.
67%Frequent decision making
Frequently make decisions that impact other people.
Work with people in a group or team.
57%Lead or coordinate a team
Lead others to do work activities.
52%Contact with the public
Work with customers or the public.
52%Responsible for outcomes
Take responsibility for the results of other people's work.
48%Consequence of error
Work where mistakes have serious consequences.
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 19-3011.00 - Economists.
Links and downloads
Research and reports
The Skills Priority List provides a current labour market rating and a future demand rating for nearly 800 occupations nationally. Current labour market ratings are available for occupations at a state and territory level.
Occupation profiles data are available for download.
The Employment Projections are available for download.