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Economist

Economists consider how individuals value goods and services and how markets and other mechanisms allocate resources. They conduct research, monitor data, analyze economic information, and prepare reports and plans. They analyze potential impacts of changes in policy or economic conditions. They develop models to explain, forecast, and anticipate problems and opportunities. And they offer ideas or policies as solutions and new initiatives.

Also Known As

Data Scientist, Econometrician, Industry Analyst, Market Analyst, Policy Analysts, Research Scientist, Social Scientist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Economists and Economic Policy Researchers and Analysts (4162) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Economists and Economic Policy Researchers and Analysts (E032) 
  • 2011 NOC: Economists and economic policy researchers and analysts (4162) 
  • 2016 NOC: Economists and economic policy researchers and analysts (4162) 
  • 2021 NOC: Economists and economic policy researchers and analysts (41401) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Economists and Economic Policy Researchers and Analysts

2006 NOC: 4162

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
INNOVATIVE

Interest in conducting research and developing models to analyze, explain and forecast economic behaviour and patterns; in devising methods to collect and analyze data; and in studying the nature of money, credit and credit instruments, and the operations of banks and other financial institutions in order to develop monetary policies and forecasts of financial activity

METHODICAL

Interest in co-ordinating information to monitor economic data and regional and local economic trend; to forecast the production and consumption of renewable resources and supply, consumption and depletion of non-renewable resources; to forecast production and consumption of specific products and services based on records of past production and consumption and general economic and industry-specific conditions; and to prepare forecasts of income and expenditure, interest rates and exchange rates

DIRECTIVE

Interest in consulting to advise government agencies on policies to increase economic activities; in conducting research on market conditions in local, regional and national areas to set sales and pricing levels for goods and services, and to assess market potential and future trends

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2020

In general, economists analyze data about economic resources and how they are used. Some economists who work in academia devise systems to collect this data. Economists also:

  • Develop systems to collect data on the production, distribution, and consumption of goods
  • Develop models to project economic and related activities
  • Compile, analyze, and interpret results from a wide range of economic data and activity
  • Evaluate outcomes and risks of business, investment, and public policy decisions
  • Assess impacts of fluctuating commodity prices (oil, for example) on market trends
  • Analyze how changes in policy and economic conditions affect the economy and cause social changes
  • Help others interpret economic data and present information to diverse audiences
  • Write reports and provide advice to government or business agencies to help them develop policy and make decisions

The work tends to be interpretive and analytical. There is growing emphasis on analyzing data from other economies and comparing it with Canadian data. There is also emphasis on assessing the costs and benefits of different courses of action. Specific duties vary with the economist’s area of specialization and their employer.

Economists may specialize in areas such as money and banking, consumer economics, financial economics, public finance, monetary and fiscal policy, international trade and finance, and industrial organization. Other specialties include natural resources, the environment, health, labour (urban and regional), and agriculture.

Agricultural, natural resource, or environmental economists work for government, industry, academia, non-government organizations (NGOs), or industry associations. They often focus on a specific or closely related group of resource commodities. In general, they:

  • Monitor and analyze trends in prices, supplies, and demand, including the impact of economic activity and regulatory changes on certain commodities
  • Monitor and evaluate macro- and microeconomic impacts of environmental policies, such as climate policy, on emissions and jobs
  • Estimate the market and non-market benefits and costs associated with using natural resources
  • Forecast prices and supplies, crop sizes, and the effects of various policies

For more information, see the Environmental Economist occupational profile.

Econometricians specialize in a branch of economics that relies on statistics, mathematics, and economic theory. With these tools they develop methods of forecasting economic variables and explaining economic behaviour. They most often work for government, academia, or large business firms. In general, they:

  • Explore all areas of economics, using complex mathematical models of the economy to analyze economic relationships and forecast key variables
  • Produce forecasts of specific economic parameters to use for study, analysis, policy development and decision making

Financial economists work for government, academia, banks, investment firms, insurance companies, and other financial institutions. Large industries often employ them for their expertise in macroeconomics, money and banking, and domestic and international finance. In general, financial economists:

  • Study overall economic, financial, and monetary conditions to analyze economic activity and forecast trends
  • Monitor and analyze factors affecting the money supply, including:
    • stock, bond, and other financial markets
    • the movement of interest, inflation, and exchange rates
    • other money market developments
  • Provide advice on financing capital projects and placement of investments

Government-employed economists tend to work in specialized areas in federal, provincial, and municipal governments. They often work in treasury and finance departments. In general, they:

  • Perform cost-benefit analyses to determine how to spend tax dollars to maximize taxpayer benefits (especially for capital projects)
  • Study employment, inflation, tax policy, tariff, and trade policies, specific industries, and energy and environmental policies
  • Assess the need to change policies affecting social and regulatory programs and propose alternatives
  • Monitor social and political trends and policies, and their impact on the economy
  • Forecast sources of government revenue and future economic growth

Industrial or business economists tend to work for large businesses and major industrial enterprises. In general, they:

  • Provide and interpret data on economic conditions and trends to help management make marketing decisions and consider alternative ideas for production and investment
  • Study regional and national economic activity, foreign trade and capital flows, and capital markets
  • Perform cost-benefit analyses and feasibility studies for industrial projects
  • Analyze the ways government policies and regulations and international agreements affect business
  • Advise management on business strategies

Labour or industrial relations economists work for unions, academia, associations, governments, and other employers. In general, they:

  • Study labour supply and demand, wages and hours of work, cost of living, labour market discrimination, and worker productivity
  • Study the way labour legislation, employment insurance, provisions for industrial accidents, welfare plans, education, collective bargaining, trade unions, and other industrial factors affect the labour force and economy
  • Suggest ways to improve arbitration and conciliation techniques for settling labour disputes

University and college economists may specialize in one or two fields of economics. They often collaborate with scientists from other fields. They most often:

  • Teach courses in economics, finance, and business
  • Conduct research to improve understanding of how the economy works and how individuals and groups in the economy behave
  • Assess the effectiveness of various policies
  • Publish their findings for others to review, analyze, and use
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Economists work in offices. They often use computers and large databases to compile and analyze data. They sometimes need to do field work. Some work from home offices.

Working conditions can vary over the year. At rare times, such as when key decisions are pending or economic events are affecting business or government, economists may work long hours, under pressure to provide accurate, timely analyses.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Economists need:

  • Strong mathematical, statistical, and analytical skills
  • Computer programming abilities that may include Structured Query Language (SQL) Python, Stata, or other languages
  • An interest in current affairs
  • An above average ability to express complex ideas in plain language, in person and on paper
  • The ability to present information to diverse audiences

They should enjoy developing innovative methods and economic models, analyzing information, and making economic forecasts. They should be comfortable advising others, solving problems, and taking part in government and business decision-making.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Minimum Education 5 years post-secondary

A bachelor of arts (BA) degree in economics, with honours, is enough to work as a research assistant. A position as a professional economist tends to require a master of arts (MA) degree in economics. A doctoral (PhD) degree is the usual requirement for post-secondary teaching and some research positions. Some prestigious companies or institutions require their economists to hold a PhD.

Admission to MA programs requires an acceptable average in the last 2 years of a related 4-year BA (preferably honours) program. A typical MA in economics is 1 year, though some niche programs require 2 years.


To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Economists work in many sectors of the economy, but most work for:

  • Large organizations in finance, business, and industry
  • Universities, colleges, and research centres
  • Municipal, provincial, and federal governments, and Crown corporations
  • Private consulting firms
  • Large international organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund

Many economists work as consultants, advising business, industry, government, labour, and others. Some work for consulting firms, while others are self-employed.

Economists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 4162: Economists and economic policy researchers and analysts. In Alberta, 77% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the industries listed above
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 4162: Economists and economic policy researchers and analysts occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.6% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 39 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Salaries for economists range widely. Economists often earn more after being promoted to management.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Economists and economic policy researchers and analysts

2016 NOC: 4162
Average Wage
$46.81
Per Hour
Average Salary
$92,580.00
Per Year
Average Hours
38.1
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 4162 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $21.63 $67.50 $38.63 $36.00
Overall $28.85 $71.43 $46.81 $43.27
Top $36.06 $73.05 $56.41 $59.55

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

ALL INDUSTRIES
Public Administration
Other Services (Repair, Personal Services and Related)

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
38%
38%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
28%
28%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
9%
9%
Vacancy Rate
3%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Canadian Economics Association website: www.economics.ca

Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE) website: cfee.org

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2020. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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