How To Become An Economist In Australia: A Complete Guide

Students ask how to become an economist in Australia with and without a degree.


Are you a detail-oriented and methodological person who likes spending time researching and analysing data?

Economist’s research, evaluate, and advise businesses and governments about the economic state of the country. They are majorly involved with analysing the manufacture, consumption, and distribution of goods, resources, and services.

The first step to know how to become an Economist in Australia is to complete an undergraduate 3-year degree course in economics or commerce. A postgraduate qualification will improve your skillset and help you specialize as an economist.

This article will be your go-to guide to jumpstart your profession as an economist. You will learn about what Economists do, their qualifications, earnings, job prospects, and how to become one in Australia.


1. Who Is An Economist?

An Economist also called an economic analyst, studies data, and economic research findings to identify economic trends and offer guidance on issues affecting society, and business.

They may study the broad international economic situation, provide advice to MNC’s and governments, or evaluate the economy of a small firm to help them maximize their profits and determine the demand for products/services.

Economists also examine the socioeconomic groups, industries, and regional/ national/ global economy to offer advice and predictions to businesses and governments on matters including taxation levels, prices, wages, imports and exports, interest rates, exchange rates, and employment and unemployment.


This, in turn, helps them make informed decisions on economic policies and investment.


2. What Does An Economist Do?

Economist analyses the behaviour and interaction of people and organizations. Based on this, they predict economic conditions, make, and implement policies, formulate corporate strategies, and offer guidance on investment decisions.

Here is a comprehensive list of tasks and duties of economists in Australia:


  • Use historical data to evaluate economic trends, map changes with time, and perform forecasts about future movement.

  • Help create government economic policies

  • Examine the impact of economic and financial policies of the government, and budgetary policies such as taxation, expenditure, on the economy

  • Implement economic concepts to real-time financial projects to evaluate relationships between demand and supply, and manufacture and distribution of goods.

  • Develop and implement theories pertaining to the spending behaviour of people and the manufacture and supply of goods and services. 

  • Prepare recommendations, plans, and policies for the nation’s economy, business investment, and strategies, as well as perform feasibility studies for projects.

  • Study workplace issues that include wage fixation, enterprise bargaining, economic growth, and the impact of workplace programs on productivity.

  • Predict probable changes in the fiscal environment changes for investment, short-term accounting, and long-term planning.

  • Prepare charts and reports forecasting market trends that include housing consents, retail spending, government spending, business investment, imports, and exports.

  • Guide on economic matters including taxes, financial planning, and budgeting 

  • Conduct surveys and gather macroeconomic (inflation, price levels, rate of fiscal growth, GDP, national income, changes in unemployment) and microeconomic (company size, and market share) data to predict an upsurge or decline in economic growth.

  • Organize and understand complex data, and information including fluctuations in exchange rates, and terms and conditions of trade.

  • Communicate research findings in visual forms such as charts and reports to make them easily comprehensible for investors.

  • Recognize opportunities to enhance efficiency and global competitiveness

  • Analyse and document the impact of labour market programs and industry programs and policies on monetary growth, social welfare, training, and education.

  • Evaluate the types of services and goods manufactured and consumed in Australia and worldwide and report it to concerned management personnel.

  • Read regular reports from other economists and government departments to stay updated on current economic issues, including import and export figures, interest rates, etc. 


3. Skills To Become An Economist 

Employers in Australia generally look for the following skill in a job applicant set to hire them as an economist:


  • Interest in Economics

  • Good research abilities

  • Good communication skills

  • Logical thinking

  • Computer literacy

  • Numerical skills

  • Analytical approach

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Able to discuss opinions clearly

  • Able to write briefly

  • Good knowledge of statistical analysis

  • Methodological

  • Organized

  • Able to offer advice on economic matters

  • Able to work independently or as a team


4. Qualifications For An Economist in Australia

Interesting in pursuing a career as an Economist in Australia? You will need a tertiary qualification from an accredited training institute to seek an entry-level role in this profession.


  • A Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in Maths and English

  • A university-level degree in economics or commerce, such as a 3-year Bachelor of Commerce or a Bachelor of Economics. Those who already have a commerce degree can pursue a Master of Economics or even a Ph.D. within the Economics discipline for advanced knowledge and career progression.

  • Membership of an industry association, such as The Economic Society of Australia will help build professional connections and stay updated with industry news.



4. Steps To Become An Economist In Australia

Here is a complete roadmap on how you can become and work as an Economist in Australia:


Step 1: Get Qualified

Earn an undergraduate course in economics or commerce, such as a 3-year Bachelor of Commerce or a Bachelor of Economics.


As the economics degree gets mathematical around the 3rd year, students should have a mathematics background i.e., completed Year 12 in mathematics. An honours degree is beneficial to gain employment as a professional economist.

If you are a commerce graduate, then a postgraduate qualification in economics or commerce is ideal to boost your employment prospects.


Knowledge of finance can also improve your employability for a private financial sector role. With these qualifications, you can start applying for economist jobs in Australia.


Step 2: Put Theoretical Knowledge Into Practice

Many universities run internships and group consulting projects programs that help you apply your academic learning via practical experience and empower you to use your leadership skills and economic knowledge to deal with real-life scenarios.


Step 3: Join An Industry Association

It is beneficial to become a member of The Economic Society of Australia to stay informed of the latest industry news and economic trends and developments.


5. Relevant Courses for Economists in Australia

A Bachelor In Economics helps the student understand human behaviour and how the decisions of people and institutions interact to govern consequences for the economy and society.

The degree explores policymaking, regulation, property rights, inflation, government interaction, strategic interaction, and labour markets and also helps develop distinct insights and transferable analytical skills that are valued in a multitude of careers.

Along with gaining knowledge of conventional economic issues such as taxation, trade policy and unemployment, economics enables people to understand and find solutions for human challenges including bribery, global inequality, climate change, political divergence, and obstructions to health care and education.

You will avail of this degree at any of the Australian universities and training institutes:


  • Sydney University

  • University of Tasmania

  • University of Western Australia

  • Deakin University

  • University of South Australia

  • UNSW



6. What Is Economist Stream Program And How To Apply For It?

The Economist Stream is a centrally co-led program by the Treasury and the Australian Public Service Commission.

This program allows working with the leading Macroeconomic Forecasters and Economic Policy Analysts of Australia and contributing to making decisions on macroeconomic issues, global economic issues, and national economic policies for the welfare of Australians.

An Economic graduate can apply for APS Economist Stream. The Treasury will lead the hiring of the Economist Stream with the support of an outsourced provider and volunteering agencies.

Shortlisted candidates will undergo a graduate program in an agency or a department that will provide them targeted development and training to progress their skills, confidence, and knowledge as valued APS members and contributors.

Trained candidates can work for several Economist roles across an array of agencies, and departments in the Australian Public Service.


You will be eligible to work in the government’s monetary policies, domestic and global economic situations, budgetary policies, and predicting changes in the fiscal environment.


Eligibility Criteria:


  • Australian citizenship

  • Complete an Australian-recognised undergraduate or master’s degree with a major or minor in Economics. It should not be over 5 years old on the date of applying.

  • A credit average, or higher, to stay competitive throughout the selection procedure.

  • Willingness to relocate to Canberra for the entire duration of the graduate program.

  • Willingness to get a valid Australian Government Security Clearance before commencing the program.


7. How To Become An Economist Without A Degree?

Students who are in college and not pursuing a qualification well suited toward economics, often want to know how they can work as an Economist.


Looking into history, you will find that most of the Nobel Prize winners in Economics were from Mathematicians or Statisticians backgrounds.

Thus, to make a career in this sector, you should have a highly quantitative background, such as Physics, Math, and Statistics.


Most candidates who have an undergraduate degree in a non-related field should pursue a Master’s, MBA, or PhDs in economics.


The key is to gain a good grasp of quantitative methods, and mathematics to make a professional career as an Economist.


8. Work conditions For Economists in Australia



Economists mostly work in offices in a variety of settings such as government departments, universities, and businesses.


The major section of the Economists workforce is present in New South Wales.


Nature of Employment

According to Job Outlook, around 84% of economists work full-time.


This shows that there are fewer opportunities for part-time workers.


Work hours

Full-time workers employed in this sector work for 44 hours which is the same as the industry’s average.


They may even work overtime to meet stringent deadlines such as when yearly reports are due.


Economists may conduct research and prepare reports either independently, or as a team.


Tools and Technologies

Use computers to perform research and generate reports.

Work on spreadsheets, database management programs, and software programs, to create mathematical models and perform statistical analysis to predict upcoming economic developments.



The average age of employed economists is 37 years.



Around 33% of the employed workforce comprises females.


This shows a good opportunity for aspiring female Economists who wish to pursue this profession.


9. Employment For Economists In Australia

Economists are extremely sought after by state, territory, or federal government departments, trade unions, policymakers at all government levels, financial institutions, private sector employers, private consulting firms, international organizations, commercial organizations, and non-profit organizations.

An Economics major in combination with other fields such as environmental science, philosophy, accounting, finance, psychology, history, mathematics, and politics is highly valued for diverse careers such as researchers, analysts, journalists, advisors, consultants, and forecasters.

The key public sector departments in Australia that recruits Economists:



Key private sectors in Australia that recruit Economists:


  • Investment and Commercial banks

  • Energy firms and regulators

  • Economics, Engineering, and Management consulting organizations


Areas of Specialization include:



  • Environmental Economist

  • Financial Economist

  • Labour Market Economist

  • Resource Economist

  • Taxation Economist

  • Transport Economist

  • Applied Industry Economist

  • Econometrician


10. Prospects For Economists In Australia

The job prospects for economists depend on the economic activity and the levels of government. As there is strong competition for available job roles, a postgraduate study is beneficial to enhance employment prospects.

Economic graduates are majorly employed by public and private sector companies in the field of marketing, public administration and safety, financial and insurance services, professional services, technical and scientific services, and management services.

Though economist professionals are employed throughout Australia, NSW and VIC are the top hiring states. Here is the breakup of the employment percentage of Economists in prominent states of Australia.


  • New South Wales: 34.1% 

  • Victoria: 26.0%

  • Australian Capital Territory: 15.4%

  • Queensland: 12.6%

  • Western Australia: 6.7%

  • South Australia: 3.5%

  • Tasmania: 1.0%

  • Northern Territory: 0.8%


11. Salary Of An Economist In Australia

The job vacancies for economists are generally advertised in the range of $80k and $100k in Australia.


Based on Indeed 2022 data, the average economist salary in Australia is $92,400 per year. The weekly and hourly economist salary is $1,691 and $47.26 respectively in Australia.

The earnings of economists are higher than that of professionals working in other areas of business. Strong earnings of economist graduates come from their quantitative skills and analytical thinking that are highly rewarded in this labour segment.

Where the starting level salary of an economics graduate is similar to that of other business graduates, their salaries tend to rise at a pretty fast rate with the increase in experience.

According to PayScale 2022 data, the average graduate economist salary for an entry-level economist (1 to 3 years of experience) is $107,541 and the average senior economist salary in Australia (8+ years of experience) is $193,289.

Top paying cities for Economists in Australia are:


  • Economist salary Sydney NSW: $118,230 per year

  • Melbourne VIC: $116,851 per year

  • Economist salary Brisbane QLD: $110,062 per year

  • Hobart TAS: $102,712 per year

  • Melbourne City Centre VIC: $101,910 per year

  • St Lucia QLD: $91,913 per year

  • Canberra ACT: $89,135 per year



By being an Economist, you get the opportunity and responsibility to formulate and implement policies that are in the best interests of the nation.


This generalized qualification educates you on several key aspects such as financial crisis, exchange rates, the employment market, stock markets, and house prices that leads to several interesting career choices.

Now that you have got complete the information about the job role, it is time to get qualified and make a lucrative career as an Economist.


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