Economist Vs. Financial Analyst

Economists and financial analysts both work with financial trends and data; however, they utilize the information in different ways. This article covers the specific degree requirements, job descriptions, and job growth for each of these careers.

Comparing Economists to Financial Analysts

Economists focus on analyzing how products and services are utilized, while financial analysts focus on advising organizations on investing. The primary similarities and differences between the two are included below.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Economist Master's Degree $101,050 6%
Financial Analyst Bachelor's Degree $81,760 12%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Economists vs. Financial Analysts

Both of these professions involve working with numbers and trends to better understand today's financial marketplace. Working as an economist or a financial analyst requires strong analytical skills and attention to detail. Both positions may also involve a great deal of working independently. While an economist looks at the larger picture of how organizations produce goods or offer services, a financial analyst looks at a smaller picture by working with individuals or organizations.


As an economist, your primary focus will be to utilize market data and trends to analyze how services and goods are produced and consumed. Economists are employed in a variety of fields, such as government agencies or management, scientific, and technical consulting services. This position may involve working more than the traditional forty-hour work week. Your job duties will include examining and interpreting current financial issues, utilizing mathematical formulas and techniques to investigate data, and designing and implementing surveys to enhance your understanding of financial issues. This career requires a strong mathematical background, with most positions requiring a master's degree in economics.

Job responsibilities of an economist include:

  • Analyzing current financial trends to predict future ones
  • Sharing results of your research through reports or charts
  • Serving as a resource for government agencies or organizations
  • Spearheading policies to improve economic problems

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts advise individuals or organizations on their investment needs. They do so by determining clients' resources and needs, analyzing the stock market and financial trends, and providing clients with recommendations on the best investments for their portfolios. In this career, you can choose from one of two specialties: a buy-side analyst or a sell-side analyst. A buy-side analyst works with organizations, such as hedge funds, insurance companies, or nonprofit organizations, to create investment plans for them, while a sell-side analyst collaborates with financial services sales agents on the investment options they can offer clients. Financial analysts work for securities or commodities firms and will need a bachelor's degree in fields like accounting or finance, with more advanced positions requiring a master's degree. Some jobs require a license through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, with many in the field also pursuing Chartered Financial Analyst certification, which involves completing a bachelor's degree, 4 years of work experience, and successfully passing three tests.

Job responsibilities of a financial analyst include:

  • Analyzing an organization's records to determine their financial worth
  • Collaborating with an organization's management staff to better understand their resources
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of an organization's management structure
  • Creating reports based on their findings and recommendations for an organization

Related Careers

If you would like to become an economist, you could consider a job as an actuary since both careers involve examining and analyzing financial data. Those interested in a position as a financial analyst may be interested in a job as a budget analyst, as both jobs involve assisting organizations to better manage their financial resources.

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