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The role

Economists give advice about the economy, drawing on their knowledge and understanding of economic theory.

They achieve this by researching past and present economic trends, analysing statistics and building computer models to help predict future changes.

Economists may advise the government, or banks, businesses and other organisations. Their work will help these organisations to make decisions and draw conclusions about their own financial strategies.

How to become an Economist

Candidates will need at least a degree in economics or a similar subject. Some employers require a Masters qualification.

Entry requirements for degree courses vary according to the institution, and should be checked.   

Businesses may recruit candidates who have degrees in subjects such as maths, statistics and business studies, as well as those who studied economics. Successful applicants receive on-the-job training, starting in junior positions such as an economic research officer, working their way up.

If a candidate is going to work for the government, the requirements are for them to have achieved at least a 2:1 in economics, or a combined degree that is at least 50 per cent economics-based. If successful, a candidate joins the Civil Service Fast Stream graduate scheme. This fast-track scheme aims to get a candidate to the level of economic adviser in three to four years.

Skills and knowledge required

  • Aptitude for numbers and statistics
  • Good analytical skills
  • Excellent research skills
  • Knowledge of economic theory
  • Good IT skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • High level of organisation


Starting salaries are usually around £25,000 a year. Those who work in the private sector often get paid more than government advisers, who get between £35,000 and £45,000 with experience. Senior economic advisers earn £60,000 to £80,000 a year.

The hours

Economists usually work 37-40 hours a week in normal office hours. Overtime may sometimes be required.

Useful websites – Government Economic Service - Royal Economic Society – Society of Business Economists - Bank of England - Civil Service

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