Economist Ngaio Ōhanga

Economists analyse financial, labour and trade markets, and predict or explain economic events.

Economists may do some or all of the following, depending on their area of specialisation:

  • collect, study and analyse information on the economy or a specific part of the economy
  • make predictions on the economy or parts of the economy based on their research
  • develop economic policies and plans
  • use computer software to predict economic behaviour
  • study and explain economic events
  • advise the Government and businesses
  • write reports and give presentations.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for economists includes:

  • work as a data analyst
  • public speaking.

Personal Qualities

Economists need to be:

  • accurate and organised
  • able to work well under pressure
  • able to keep information private
  • good at analysing and interpreting figures
  • excellent at communicating
  • excellent at problem-solving
  • able to write reports
  • able to present information.


Economists need to have knowledge of:

  • economic methods and theories
  • economic ideas and trends
  • project management
  • maths, including statistics, for using methodologies to think about the world and specific issues.



  • usually work regular business hours, but sometimes have to work overtime to meet project deadlines
  • work in offices 
  • may travel locally and around New Zealand to make presentations. They may also travel overseas to attend conferences or do contract work.

Economists can earn around $47K-$65K per year.

Pay for economists varies depending on experience, location, and the type of organisation they work for.

  • Graduate economists usually start on $47,000 to $65,000 a year.
  • Economists with two to five years' experience usually earn between $65,000 and $90,000.
  • Senior economists with over six years' experience may earn $90,000 to $114,000.

Pay for self-employed economists varies depending on the amount of work they get.

Economists in the private sector usually earn more than those in the public sector, and often earn bonuses and other benefits in addition to their salary.

Source: Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL), 2018; and Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) research, 2018.

Economists may progress to work as academics, business managers or economic strategists.

Economists may specialise in researching a particular area, such as:

  • health
  • infrastructure
  • regional economies
  • labour markets.

Years Of Training

3-5 years of training usually required.

There are no specific requirements to become an economist. However, a Bachelor's degree in economics or maths may be useful, and a Master's degree in economics is preferred.