Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Employment numbers are low for economists, making it hard for new graduates to find work in this occupation. Finding work is easier for experienced economists. Income is high. Most graduates in economics find work, even if many end up in other, related occupations.

How to become an economist

What they do

Economists analyse and research economic subjects. They use economic theories, models and frameworks to explain and make predictions on many subjects in business, economics, and other areas.

Skills employers look for

According to the latest information from the New Zealand and Australian online job ads, some of the top skills employers look for include:

  • research and analysis skills, especially economic analysis
  • project management
  • communication skills.

 Source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight™ Real-time Labor Market Information tool


A bachelor’s degree in economics or related subjects is the absolute minimum requirement to work as an economist. More commonly, economists have postgraduate degrees such as honours, masters or even doctorates in economics or related subjects.

Cost of study

Bachelor in EconomicsMaster in Economics
$19,500 over three years $15,500 over two years

Prices vary between universities, but a bachelor’s degree in economics will cost around $19,500 over three years, and a master’s degree in economics will cost around $15,500 over an extra two years. Please consult the desired place of study for exact prices.

Average costs in 2018 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. First time students may be eligible for  fees-free tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services: 

Where to study

A bachelor’s degree in economics can be studied at all eight universities in New Zealand. Most of them also offer master’s degrees in economics. Please refer to the specific university’s website for details about their programmes.

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing a master’s degree in ‘Economics & Econometrics’ annually has been between 50 and 80 in recent years. This means there is a small, but stable pool of graduates available for employers.

Qualification completions chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


The annual income for economists is estimated to be around $113,500. Salaries for recent graduates are considerably lower. The very high income that economists can earn brings about intense competition for the positions that are available.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Economists’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2021 2026
438 540 645 713
  3.0% 3.0% 2.0%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
* Growth projections are based on the category “Information and Organisation Professionals”.

The number of economists in employment was small, but increased by over 3% per year from 2006 to 2013. The growth is projected to continue, but at a slightly lower rate in 2021-2026. The small scale of this occupation can make it difficult to find employment, as few opportunities come up. It can be especially difficult for new graduates without experience to find work.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
25% 3% 0% 63% $58,000

Source: Tertiary Education Commission.
*Three years after completion of bachelor's degree - Economics & Econometrics.

Three years after completing a bachelor’s degree in economics or econometrics, most graduates are either in employment or overseas. The median salary three years after completion was around $58,000. Note: many of these graduates are not employed as economists.

Economists are not on Immigration New Zealand's skill shortage lists.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

The number of online job vacancies for economists has swung up and down in recent years. This may be because the number of vacancies is small, even a small change can make a big impact.

Economist vacancies are advertised through websites such as TradeMe Jobs and Seek and, increasingly, through social media like LinkedIn.

TradeMe Jobs: 

Career path

Economists can work in the public sector, for private companies, or for NGOs. They can go on to work as managers, analysts, consultants, and a range of other business positions. A few also become CEOs and CFOs. The wide range of positions economists can work in reflects the versatility of an economics degree.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level economists.

  • Accountant
  • Agricultural Economist
  • Business Analyst
  • Chief Executive
  • Consultant
  • Econometrician
  • Economic Analyst
  • Economic Forecaster
  • Environmental Economist
  • Finance Manager
  • Health Economist
  • Labour Market Economist
  • Manager
  • Market Analyst
  • Mineral Economist
  • Research Economist
  • Taxation Economist

Other information


More information on economists is available on the Careers New Zealand website.

Careers New Zealand:


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of economists has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:

2243 – Economists