Difference Between Economist & Statistician

The work of both economists and statisticians includes the analysis of data, but economists focus on market data while statisticians work to improve methods of data collection. Learn more about these two careers, and get salary and job outlook statistics.

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Comparing Economists to Statisticians

Economists and statisticians both collect data which can apply to a wide range of fields. Economists use data to analyze trends that involve the exchange of money or goods and services. Statisticians work on ways to collect any kind of data to accurately reflect the relationship between desired factors.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Economists Master's degree $101,050 6%
Statisticians Master's degree $80,500 34%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of an Economist vs. a Statistician

Data analysis is a core function of both of these professions. The interpretation of data differs because economists are primarily interested in how the data applies to consumers while statisticians are primarily interested in tailoring the collection of data to specific questions. Statisticians and economists may work together on projects where the economist develops the question about a market trend and the statistician develops the survey to be distributed for data collection. Once the data is collected for such a project, the statistician would analyze the data for accuracy and the economist would develop a report about the economic impact of the trend.

Economists

Economists can analyze market data for a variety of sectors, such as mining, manufacturing, services, technology, or government. Types of data collected include the price of market items, employment statistics, and consumer demand for specific products. Economists use market data to predict trends, detail how laws might affect the economy, or make recommendations to a company about profits. The analyses provided by economists are used by the federal government to assess the overall health of the U.S. economy and set interest rates. Many economists study a specialized subset of the economy, such as labor and employment trends, anti-trust laws, or welfare policies.

Job responsibilities of an economist include:

  • Compiling data into computer software programs that generate graphs
  • Researching historical trends in consumer behavior
  • Designing policies to maximize the economic benefit of specific trends
  • Presenting research findings to other economists at professional meetings

Statisticians

Statisticians design ways to collect data for a specific purpose. The U.S. Census was designed by statisticians to collect basic demographic data about the population of the entire country. Other surveys may focus on a smaller question, such as the effectiveness of a particular drug in treating a disease. Regardless of the reason for the data collection, it is the job of a statistician to make sure the data collection method accurately reflects the population being sampled and that the data is valid. The final analysis report from a statistician includes information qualifying the data collected based on significant differences observed and the specific conditions for which the data may be used. Applications of statistical analysis can range from sports statistics and opinion polls to endangered species surveys and levels of environmental pollution.

Job responsibilities of a statistician include:

  • Using computer software to identify relationships in data
  • Modeling data trends based upon different sampling methods
  • Improving data collection methods based upon probability theory
  • Manipulating raw data into graphs and charts to display relationships

Related Careers

A financial analyst in the banking industry would use skills similar to those of an economist to monitor trends and change banking procedures to maximize profits. Both statisticians and actuarial analysts collect data, but the specific use by an actuarial analyst is to apply probability theory to the insurance industry.

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