Economist Salary in South Africa


Not many people want to be economists, it is clearly not one of those very common occupations. However, it is an interesting occupation if you know the intricacies of the job. One of the key factors to consider when choosing a career is how much you’ll be earning.

This alone can determine whether you will take a job or not. Economists are usually well-paid and in South Africa, it is no different. In this post, we will look at how much an economist in South Africa earns. We will also consider several other important aspects of this topic like how to become an economist, requirements, job description, and opportunities.

Economist Salary in South Africa

Who is an economist?

Many people confuse economists with bankers or accountants. These are all different occupations with different responsibilities and job descriptions. An economist is a person that collects and analyzes data and research trends. From the information gotten, the economist is able to evaluate economic issues for goods, services, and resources.

Usually, an economist works in an office. They can either work independently as entrepreneurs or as a staff of a firm. Economists work regular office hours even though it is not strange to see them take extra hours just to get the job done. These extra hours help meet deadlines considering how strenuous their job is.

It is projected that over the next ten years, more economists will be needed worldwide. The demand rate for economists is expected to rise by between 8% and 10%. This is higher in most of the other occupations in the financial industry.

The prospect of getting a job as an economist will get better for those who are able to get additional qualifications. These qualifications include Master’s degrees and Doctorate degrees in this field of study. Along with these, getting professional certificates and the use of statistical analysis software is will be an added advantage.

Duties of economists

Basically, economists invest their time in studying the production of goods and services as well as their distribution. They also study available resources and how best to channel them to gain a comparative advantage. After this, they collect and analyze the data before proffering solutions to economic issues.

Some of the duties of economists include:

  • Researching economic issues
  • Conducting surveys and collecting data
  • Analyzing data with the help of a mathematical model, software, and other statistical techniques.
  • Presenting the results of their research in tables, reports, and charts.
  • Interpreting and forecasting market trends.
  • Providing professional economic advice to business owners and governments on economic issues.
  • Recommending solutions to economic problems.
  • Writing articles for academic research journals and several other media.

Generally, economists make use of both quantitative and qualitative economic analysis methods. They apply these to several fields including health, education, and environmental studies. While some economists focus on healthcare, product costs, and energy, others study business cycles and employment levels. Others apply their economic ability to the study of taxation, interest rates, exchange rates, and inflation.

To make forecasts, economists take time to study historical trends. With several software, they are able to analyze researched data. In some cases, they have to present their results to large audiences.

Becoming an Economist

Economics is a course that requires deliberate study and to make it big in this sector, you need to go beyond a Bachelor’s degree. It is very important to have at least a Master’s degree but your best bet is getting a Doctorate degree. This is not to say that there are no openings for Bachelor’s degree holders at the entry-level. However, these jobs are very few.

With a bachelor’s degree, a student can pursue an advanced degree in several specific fields. This is when a student can decide to specialize. Regardless of the field, you choose to specialize in, it is imperative that you have a strong background in mathematics.

Important qualities for an Economist

For every occupation, there are several skills a person is expected to have. In the case of economists, here are some of the required qualities you should possess or develop:

  • Analytical skills – It is important that as an economist, you are able to pay attention to detail for each piece of data. You should also be able to observe patterns, perform calculations at an advanced level, and arrive at logical conclusions.
  • Critical thinking – You must be able to apply logic and reasoning to solving difficult problems. An example is finding out the effect of current economic trends on a particular organization.
  • Speaking skills – Beyond being analytical and possessing critical thinking, you must be able to speak. Like we stated earlier, there are times when an economist is required to present findings in front of large gatherings. Most of the time, the people you will be speaking to have no knowledge of economics. As a result, you need to be able to speak in clear terms to engage their reasoning faculties.
  • Writing skills – asides presenting your research vocally, you must also be able to present them on paper. These reports are very important in making policies that govern whole industries and so you have to write them clearly. While you may not reach every audience physically, your articles can get into any room in the world.

Careers related to economics

There are a couple of careers related to economics, some of them include:

  1. Actuaries – These focus on analyzing the financial costs of risks as well as uncertainties. To do this, they make use of statistics, mathematics, and financial theories.
  2. Budget analysts
  3. Financial analysts
  4. Market research analysts
  5. Mathematicians and statisticians
  6. Operations research analysts
  7. Political scientists
  8. Postsecondary teachers
  9. Survey researchers
  10. Urban and regional planners

One thing you will notice across all of these occupations is that they have a relationship with mathematics and statistics.

How much do economists earn in South Africa?

The average salary of economists in South Africa is R303,946. It may be less than this for entry-level economists. However, as they advance in the profession and acquire more qualifications, their salaries increase.


We have been able to provide you information about economists in South Africa relating to their salary. You have also learned about becoming an economist and the different opportunities available in this sector.