Median annual wage and salary earnings of economists were $72,780 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $53,650 and $96,240. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,040, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $129,170.
The Federal Government recognizes education and experience in certifying applicants for entry-level positions. The starting salary for economists having a bachelorís degree was about $24,667 a year in 2005; however, those with superior academic records could begin at $30,567. Those having a masterís degree could qualify for positions at an annual salary of $37,390. Those with a Ph.D. could begin at $45,239, while some individuals with experience and an advanced degree could start at $54,221. Starting salaries were slightly higher in selected geographical areas where the prevailing local pay was higher. The average annual salary for economists employed by the Federal Government was $89,441 a year in 2005.