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by Staff Reporter
If you have an analytical mind and love staying on top of local and global economic trends, a career as an Economist could be for you.

Career Overview

The role of an Economist is to study and analyse the production and distribution of resources, good and services (within the private and/or public sector) through data collection and analysis, researching trends and evaluating economic issues. Economists are often also involved in researching and developing economic theories and policies.

Required School Subjects

You will need to have taken the following subjects at high school:

  • Mathematics (with a final mark of 60%)
  • English Home Language or First Additional Language (with a final mark of 60%)

Recommended subjects:

  • Economics
  • Business Studies
  • Accounting

Institution and APS

The following institutions are highly recommended for studies in Economics:

  • University of Cape Town (UCT): Faculty Point Score (FPS) of 440+
  • University of the Witwatersrand (Wits): APS of 32+
  • University of Pretoria (UP): APS of 32+

Required Qualification/s

In order to become an Economist, you will have to obtain, at minimum, an undergraduate degree (3 years) majoring in economics, as well as an honours degree in economics (1 year). An Economics major can be done as part of a Bachelor of Social Science degree, a Bachelor of Commerce degree or a Business Science degree. An Economics Honours degree can only be obtained through the commerce faculty. Further study, such as a Masters degree, is often required, or at the very least beneficial, for more senior positions.  

Required Skills

You will need to have the following skills to succeed as an Economist:

  • analytical skills
  • good numerical skills
  • communication skills
  • problem-solving
  • writing and research

Where you can work

As an Economist, you can find yourself working in a range of environments.  Here are some of the areas you could work in:

  • Government departments (policy development)
  • Universities
  • Research organisations
  • Consulting firms
  • Financial institutions
  • Journalism

Working Hours

Unless working on a part-time or consultancy basis, an Economist will generally work the usual 8-5 day.

Expected Salary

On average, an Economist will earn R294 000 per year (R24 500 per month). This amount will be dependant on experience and qualification level, as well as the sector that you are working in.

What to expect

In broad terms, an Economist will fulfill some of the following tasks:

  • Design and conduct research to identify trends, formulate forecast models.
  • Advise the government, agencies, corporations, and/or banks about the adoption of financial policies.
  • Compile reports and illustrations of research findings.
  • Devise methods for data collection, sampling, and processing in regard to finance, labor, agriculture, commodities, trade, etc.

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