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Difference Between Economist & Accountant

Economists and accountants analyze data to help leaders in various fields manage and grow their finances. Learn more about these two careers, including their job duties, salary information, and the education required for each career.

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Comparing Economists to Accountants

Careers in economics or accounting typically require individuals to be analytical, though these professions are very different. Economists use data and trends to understand the production and distribution of goods and services, while accountants analyze financial records and assess financial operations. Here you can find more information about each of these analytical career options.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Economist Master's or PhD; bachelor's is sometimes accepted for entry-level jobs $101,050 (2016)* 6%
Accountant Bachelor's at minimum; master's degree common $49,960 (2017)** 11% (for all accountants and auditors)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics **PayScale.com

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Responsibilities of Economists vs Accountants

Economists and accountants both analyze data and work with numbers. Economists study costs, trends, and data from the economy to learn more about issues within different fields (such as healthcare or education) or how the economy will affect a business. They then present their findings to industry leaders and policymakers or publish them as reports or academic papers. Accountants organize, analyze, and review the financial records of a given organization or client to make sure financial operations run smoothly. This could include preparing tax documents, ensuring legal compliance, and providing suggestions to management on how to improve efficiency and profits. Accountants focus on the detailed finances of a business while economists analyze various sources of data with theoretical models to forecast trends. Both may assist with making recommendations to maximize the profits of a business or organization.

Economist

Economists study data from the economy to assist in many different fields, including education, health, government, and private business. This career option requires advanced analysis and creative problem-solving skills in order to connect data to theory and identify trends. Economists make use of statistics and perform their own research, and they utilize the data to advise individuals, businesses, and government organizations on various economic issues. Federal government economists might map employment trends, for example, while a microeconomist might analyze the supply and demand of a particular product and help a company determine pricing. Some economists work in academia as postsecondary instructors.

Job responsibilities of an economist include:

  • Conduct surveys
  • Study current and past economic issues
  • Prepare tables and reports
  • Determine and interpret market trends
  • Write for academic journals and media to present research

Accountant

Accountants review financial records and statements to check for accuracy, consistency, and compliance. They also are responsible for assisting with taxes to ensure individuals and businesses are paying the correct amounts on time. Accountants must be detail-oriented and highly organized to manage multiple client accounts. They are also expected to evaluate accounting systems for efficiency and implement workflow improvements. Accountants must be able to communicate their analysis and insights verbally and through written reports; they usually present to upper-level management. Accountants have several advancement opportunities, including becoming top executives or financial managers.

Job responsibilities of an accountant include:

  • Ensure financial records comply with regulations
  • Organize financial records
  • Make financial recommendations to increase profit
  • Identify cost-reduction strategies

Related Careers

Those considering a career as an economist may also be interested in working as a market research analyst. Market research analysts collect data similar to that used by economists, though they specialize in researching the market. Individuals looking into working as an accountant might consider a career as a budget analyst. Similar to accountants, budget analysts work with money and data though they concentrate on helping organizations with spending and keeping a budget.

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