The federal government wouldn't know the economic impact of a swine flu epidemic without health economists, and corporations couldn't estimate health-care costs as accurately. Health economists use economic computer models to increase efficiency, lower costs and maximize profits. If you have a passion for research and can picture yourself analyzing statistics for hours every day, the job of health economist may be perfect for you. For your efforts, you can expect to earn a salary averaging nearly $90,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary of health economists was $87,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Indeed. To become a health economist, you need a minimum of a master's degree in economics and two or more years of industry experience. Some employers may prefer that you have a Ph.D., especially if you work in research or teach at a university. Other essential requirements are attention to detail and analytical, critical thinking, math, speaking, writing and computer skills.
Salary by Region
In 2013, average salaries for health economists varied considerably in most U.S. regions. In the West region, they earned the highest salaries of $95,000 in California and the lowest of $60,000 in Hawaii, according to Indeed. Those in the Northeast made between $75,000 and $105,000 per year, respectively, in Maine and New York. If you worked as a health economist in the Midwest, you'd earn the most in Illinois and the least in South Dakota -- $93,000 or $66,000, respectively. In the South, you'd earn $74,000 to $102,000, respectively, in Louisiana or Washington, D.C.
You may earn more as a health economist in certain industries. For example, economists earned relatively high salaries of $110,290 working for the federal government as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics -- versus an average industry salary of $99,480. They earned $108,430 per year in the scientific research and development services industry. Your salary would be higher in New York or Washington, D.C., because living costs are higher in that state and district. If you made $85,000 in Erie, Pa., you'd need to make $193,326 in New York City to maintain the same living standard, according to CNN Money's cost of living calculator. In Washington, D.C., you'd need to earn $126,616.
The BLS only projects a 6-percent increase in jobs for economists in the next decade, slower than the national average of 14 percent for all jobs. An increase in the importance of economic analysis and quantitative statistical methods should spur job growth for most economists. Health economists may have more job opportunities because of continued growth in the health-care industry. You probably won't find as many job opportunities with the federal government because of budget cuts.
2018 Salary Information for Economists
Economists earned a median annual salary of $104,340 in May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, economists earned a 10th percentile salary of $73,890, meaning 90 percent earned more than this amount. The 90th percentile salary is $138,120, meaning 10 percent earn more. In 2018, 21,000 people were employed in the U.S. as economists.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Economists Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Economists
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC Health Economists
- Pmpconnect.com: Health Economics Manager
- Indeed: Health Economist Salary
- Indeed: Health Economist Salary in Maine, and New York
- Indeed: Health Economist Salary in Hawaii, and California
- Indeed: Health Economist Salary in Louisiana, and Washington, DC
- CNN Money: Cost of living: How Far Will My Salary Go In Another City?
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Economists
- Career Trend: Economists