Career earnings

What economists can expect to earn in different fields

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook (online in 2023) reports annual wages for economists. For economists of all educational levels, the median earnings in 2021 were $105,630 with $62,460 at the tenth percentile and $193,690 at the 90th percentile.

Median Annual Wages for Economists in May 2021 in the Top Five Industries Employing Economists (from the Occupation Outlook Handbook)
Industry Annual Wage
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 and local government, excluding education and hospitals $82,220

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Economists. (Visited May 4, 2023). reports its survey of people with Baccalaureate degrees (and no more) who are employed full time, showing starting salaries (typically with two-years of experience) and mid-career annual earnings.  Here are selected occupations for the 2021 report.

College Major Starting Salary Mid-career Salary
Petroleum Engineering $93,200 $187,300
Operations Research & Industrial Engineering $84,800 $170,400
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science $108,500 $159,300
Interaction Design $68,300 $155,800
Public Accounting $59,800 $147,700
Operations Research $83,500 $147,400
Applied Economics and Management $66,100 $146,400
Business Computing $73,000 $143,600
Actuarial Mathematics $64,300 $143,400
Electrical Power Engineering $76,100 $142,600

Source: Majors That Pay You Back,

For more information about academic salaries in economics, check out the Universal Academic Questionnaire (UAQ) published each year in AEA Papers and Proceedings. The UAQ is a survey of US economics departments taken each fall. One survey is addressed to the chair of the Department of Economics of each institution. Another resource is the annual "Survey of the Labor Market for New Ph.D. Hires in Economics" conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas.