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What is an Economist? Key Roles and Duties

Having an economic expert on your team can help you make business decisions that optimize your company’s financial health. Economists have an advanced understanding of how the market works and can use that knowledge to set price points for a product, find new markets and improve user interfaces based on customer behavior. Use this guide to learn about the roles of an economist and how to hire one for your team.

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What is an economist?

An economist is someone who professionally studies commerce and its related trends. They collect data to evaluate how resources and services are distributed within a community or society. They can work in almost any sector to study a particular market and help businesses make decisions based on their economic forecasts. Economists are financial experts who know how to apply economic theories to current and future market scenarios.

What does an economist do?

Economists can study the cost of goods and services, employment levels, inflation rates, taxes and many other economic and financial niches. Regardless of the industry or specialty they work in, economists generally have these duties as a key part of their job:

  • Collect and analyze data
  • Interpret research and predict future economic conditions
  • Assessing government policies
  • Conduct surveys
  • Prepare budgets
  • Identify economic problems and offer potential solutions
  • Explain complicated economic trends to colleagues
  • Provide advice on business strategy
  • Forecast spending
  • Compare consumer demand and sales trends to optimize profits
  • Publish articles on various market trends

Economists can work at private businesses, research firms, government offices, banks, nonprofits, schools and think tanks. They can do independent research or collaborate as part of a time to work on large-scale problems with the global economy.

Economist job titles

Most economists work in one of three main sectors: public, private and academic. Within those fields, they can have many different job titles depending on their area of expertise. They can work in leadership roles within an organization, in an advisory capacity or as an assistant to a larger team. Here are a few of the roles and job titles economists can have:

Data analyst

Many economists start their careers as interpreting information as economic data analysts. They make projections based on data and develop suggestions for how a business could improve its numbers.


Actuaries are economic experts who analyze financial risks based on economic theory and statistics. They generally work in the insurance industry helping minimize risks through policy.

Financial manager

Many economists are financial managers for a business or organization, carefully reviewing all account information to improve sales and find new market opportunities.

Academic economist

Economists can also work as professors and economic researchers in the academic field. Academic economists publish books and articles on their area of expertise, teach classes and conduct research.

Benefits of hiring an economist

Having an economist as part of your small business can help you make shrewd financial decisions for your company that will promote its long-term growth. Economists can pose business questions that guide the development of product design, marketing efforts and investment decisions. Independent research that focused on your business and its unique markets They create strategic timelines for business expansion and the release of new services. Economists bring many skills to a company, including:

  • The ability to identify accurate, reliable statistics and relevant data
  • Creative problem solving and hypothetical thinking for making predictions
  • Understanding of cause and effect
  • Expertise with how economics impacts customer behavior

Economists are also experienced with handling large sets of data and breaking it down into trends that other financial and business professionals can use for their strategic initiatives. They can create specific methods and frameworks for processing information at your company, making it easier to collect data in the future and update sales forecasts.

Related:10 Recruiting Strategies for Hiring Great Employees

Economist qualifications

As financial experts, economists are required to have a master’s degree in economics. Many economists go on to pursue a doctorate in order to qualify for top positions. They should have research or workplace experience analyzing information and learning about different tools for analyzing statistics.

Economists need to be able to use a combination of strategic thinking skills and technical skills to succeed in the workplace. Some of the most important skills to look for when hiring for an economist are:

  • Attention to detail
  • Written communication
  • Public speaking
  • Mathematical skill
  • Statistical analysis software proficiency
  • Creativity
  • Organization

In addition to education and work experience, publications can contribute to an economist’s qualifications. Candidates who have publications bring credibility to your company and have proven examples of the way they think about economic problems.

Related:Analytical Skills in the Workplace: Skills and Examples

Sample economist job description

Use this example as a guide when creating a job description for an economist role at your company:

We are seeking a business economist to collaborate with our strategic team to enter the next phase of business growth. You will lead data collection initiatives and interpret the resulting information to make recommendations for business opportunities. The ideal candidate has a master’s degree in economics or business, with experience building economic models and presenting reports.

Read more:Economist Job Description Example

Economist interview questions

To assess the way a candidate approaches the economic issues that impact your company, ask target questions during the interview. Use technical questions to learn about their knowledge of economic theory, behavioral questions to understand how they handled past situations and hypothetical questions to observe their ability to think creatively and make projections.

  • Tell me about a time you analyzed the risks of an economic policy.This question allows you to gain insight into their critical thinking and situational analysis skills.
  • How do you approach working with a large set of data?Skilled economists should have a strategy for breaking down large amounts of information so that they can identify trends correctly.
  • What trends do you see shaping the local economy over the next five years?The way candidates respond can show you their level of awareness when it comes to relevant markets.
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