Average Salary: $91,860
Expected Lifetime Earnings: $3,835,000
Economists make a median annual wage of about 85k, but that is not a hard and fast rule. Economists who work for the Federal Government make closer to 110k. Those in scientific research and development make roughly 110k. If you want to go into scientific or technical consulting, expect to make closer to 95k. Want to work for your local government? It will be nice to help your local community, but you'll be making around 70k. State government economist jobs are even lower, at a median annual wage of 60k.
Before you run out to buy that convertible you've always wanted, it's important to note that economists who are just starting out do not make that type of money. In fact, entry-level economists, regardless of whether they have a bachelor's or master's degree, make only about 60k a year. Those with a PhD start with nearer to 85k. In the long run, it definitely pays to stay in school for a few more years. You'll rack up more loan debt, but when you finally start working, you'll be able to pay it off in almost no time. By "almost no time," we mean less than 10 years, which is actually pretty good.
One-third of economists work for private industries, another third work for universities, and the rest work for the government. A full professor teaching position at a university that grants doctorial degrees could earn you up to 200k a year, even more if you're at Harvard or Stanford, more still if you do some Wall Street consulting work on the side. If you work for a college or university that grants bachelor's and master's degrees, you can make up to 100k a year as a full professor. Once again, the separation between masters and PhD degrees is a large one. The two don't even have any letters in common.