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 2023 were $115,730 with $62,520 at the tenth percentile and $216,900 at the 90th percentile.

Median Annual Wages for Economists in May 2023 in the Top Five Industries Employing Economists (from the Occupation Outlook Handbook)
Industry Annual Wage
Scientific research and development services $140,940
Federal government, excluding postal service $135,200
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services $110,120
Local government, excluding education and hospitals $91,980
State and local government, excluding education and hospitals $74,900

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Economists. (Visited May 23, 2024). 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 2023 report.

College Major Starting Salary Mid-career Salary
Petroleum Engineering $97,500 $212,500
Operations Research & Industrial Engineering $98,300 $191,800
Interaction Design $74,700 $173,600
Applied Economics and Management $76,500 $164,400
Building Science $69,000 $163,100
Actuarial Mathematics $70,700 $160,000
Operations Research $92,200 $160,000
Systems Engineering $87,000 $159,100
Optical Science & Engineering $79,600 $158,300
Information & Computer Science $76,000 $157,800

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.