Economists are in higher demand in the United States today. The economy is expanding, and there is higher need for experts who are skilled in studying the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services be collecting and analyzing economic data. Professionals who obtain a degree in economics will find a variety of good paying jobs available.
A key question is how much can you earn with a degree in economics? To make this determination, it is important to review these factors:
- The difference in salary between a bachelor’s and master’s degree
- The occupation you choose
- Your amount of experience
- Where you live and work geographically
With this information, you will have a good idea of what you can earn with a master’s degree in economics.
Level of Economics Degree
There is extensive research that shows people with a graduate or masters degree in economics will earn a higher salary in their career. For example, The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS tells us that you can earn $68,000 per year with a master’s and $56,000 with a bachelor’s on average. This is a difference of $12,000 and this can add up to a lot of money over a 30 year career.
BLS also reports the differences in salary for a variety of business and finance related occupations:
- Financial manager: $78,000 vs. $110,000
- Market research analyst: $65,000 vs. $90,000
- Marketing and sales manager: $80,000 vs. $110,000
- Securities, commodities and financial service sales agent: $90,000 vs. $170,000.
Payscale.com also notes how salaries for people with an economics degree will vary due to the level of degree. For a bachelor of arts in economics, the website notes these salaries:
- Financial analyst: $59,600
- Senior financial analyst: $78,400
- Business analyst: $51,800
- Data analyst: $55,500
- Senior business analyst: $76,600
- Credit analyst: $46,200
- Operations manager: $58,900
For a master of arts in economics, you can earn these salaries, according to Payscale.com:
- Economist: $68,500
- Analytics manager: $96,000
- Data analyst: $71,200
- Financial consultant: $67,500
- Business analyst: $45,100
- Senior financial analyst: $85,200
- Operations manager: $67,800
- Market research analyst: $53,700
- Business analyst: $70,800
Having your master’s in economics will usually give you a higher salary over the long term than just a bachelor’s degree.
Types of Economics Job
The job type that you select will also have a big impact on your salary. People with the best economics degrees can work in many occupations, with the following being the most common:
Economists study the distribution and production of goods, resources, and services as they collect and analyze data, trends in research and evaluating economic matters for public and private organizations. Economists do both quantitative and qualitative economic analysis in many fields: education, health, development and environment. Some in the field will study product costs, energy or healthcare, and others look at employment, exchange rates and business cycles.
While economists can work for almost any sort of organization, a high number work for the state, local and federal governments. Federal government economists are responsible for collecting and analyzing data about our economy, such as prices, productivity, employment wages and other data. They also estimate spending needs and give legislators information about how laws will affect laws and regulations.
The median salary for economists in 2017 was $102,400, with the top 10% earning more than $172,000 per year. Economists with the most experience and a master’s degree usually earn more than $100,000 per year. Some of the top industries for economists in terms of salary are:
- Finance and insurance: $12,900
- Federal government: $113,000
- Scientific research and development: $109,000
- Management, scientific and technical consulting: $106,700
- State government: $70,300
A budget analyst is an economic professional who helps public and private organizations to better organize their finances. They are responsible for preparing budget reports for private and public organizations, and also monitor institutional spending.
Budget analysts provide detailed financial and economic advice to governments, businesses and universities on ways to organize their finances more efficiently. They are usually responsible for preparing annual and special reports and evaluating budget proposals. Budget analysts also analyze financial data to determine the costs and benefits of different programs. Government officials and top executives in private organizations usually make the final decision on budgets, but they rely on budget analysts to organize the information to make these decisions.
Budget analysts often use a cost benefit analysis to review any financial requests made and to assess the tradeoffs for funding various programs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary for budget analysts in 2017 was $75,200, and the top 10% earned more than $113,700. Budget analyst salaries vary according to these industries:
- Professional, scientific and technical services; $82,300
- Federal government: $80,700
- Local government: $70,500
- Educational services: $66,600
- State government: $64,400
A financial examiner ensures laws about financial institutions and transactions are followed. Financial examiners review balance sheets, evaluate risk level of loans and assess bank management. Financial examiners normally work in either risk assessment or consumer compliance. Financial examiners that work in risk assessment evaluate how healthy financial institutions are. They ensure that banks and other financial organizations offer loans that are safe, and that they have enough cash in reserve to manage losses that were not expected. These procedures ensure that our financial system will stay stable.
Financial examiners in consumer compliance monitor the lending activity of financial organizations to ensure that all borrowers are treated according to the law. They will ensure that banks are giving loans to people who will probably pay them back. Also, financial examiners can help people to avoid predatory loans.
BLS states the median salary for financial examiners was $81,600 in 2017, with the top 10% with a master’s degree earning more than $153,000 per year.
Financial examiners earn the following salaries in these industries:
- Federal government: $118,000
- Securities, commodities contracts and other financial investments and related activities: $90,800
- Management of companies and enterprises: $82,300
- Credit intermediation: $76,300
- State government: $68,900
As with most professions, you will earn a higher salary over time with more work experience. Payscale.com reports an average salary of $74,000 per year for economists overall, and it reports the following average salaries for an economist based upon work experience:
- Less than five years of experience – $63,000
- Five to 10 years of experience – $89,000
- 10 to 20 years of experience – $102,000
- More than 20 years of experience – $119,000
Payscale.com also states that more experienced economists with skills in SAS, research analysis and policy analysis tend to make an average of 15% more.
Where you work geographically as an economist will also affect your pay. The national average salary for an economist per Payscale.com is $74,300, with the following increases and decreases based upon the city in which you live:
- Houston: +102%
- Washington DC: +29%
- Seattle: +7%
- New York City: +1%
- Boston: -5%
- San Francisco: -6%
- Philadelphia: -18%
- Chicago: -20%
Professional economists with a master’s degree can anticipate a solid salary over the years that will be a good deal higher than if you only had a bachelor’s degree.
- Should I Get a Master’s Degree? 2015). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm
- Economist. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/economists.htm#tab-2
- Financial Examiner. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-examiners.htm#tab-5
- Economist Salary. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Economist/Salary