Average Economist Salary in South Africa (2024)

The average Economist Salary in South Africa is R52,308 per month. An entry-level Economist earns a salary range of R30,329, a Mid-career level earns about R55,000, and a senior/experienced level earns R71,454 per month.

Average Economist Salary in South Africa

Job Title Approximate Monthly Salary (ZAR)
Entry-Level Economist 30,329
Mid-Career Economist 55,000
Experienced Economist 71,454

Types of Economists and Their Functions in South Africa

Economists in South Africa, like in many other countries, play diverse roles across various sectors, contributing to policy formulation, business decision-making, and academic research. Here are some key types of economists and their functions in the South African context:

1. Macro Economists

Analyze and monitor the overall economic performance of South Africa. They focus on indicators such as GDP growth, inflation rates, and unemployment. Their insights are crucial for formulating national economic policies.

2. Micro Economists

Concentrate on individual economic units such as firms and households. Microeconomists in South Africa assess market structures, consumer behaviour, and business strategies. Their work helps businesses make informed decisions and contributes to regulatory frameworks.

3. Development Economists

Address issues related to economic development, poverty reduction, and inequality. In South Africa, development economists contribute to crafting policies that promote inclusive growth, infrastructure development, and social welfare.

4. Labor Economists

Study the labour market, employment patterns, and wage structures. In South Africa, with its historical labour challenges, economists in this field play a crucial role in advising on labour policies, addressing unemployment, and ensuring fair labour practices.

5. Environmental Economists

Evaluate the economic impact of environmental policies and sustainable practices. Given South Africa’s rich biodiversity and natural resources, economists in this field contribute to policies that balance economic growth with environmental preservation.

6. Financial Economists

Analyze financial markets, investment strategies, and monetary policies. In South Africa, financial economists provide insights into managing currency fluctuations, interest rates, and capital flows, influencing both national and international financial decisions.

7. Public Economists

Focus on government spending, taxation, and public policies. In South Africa, public economists contribute to designing fiscal policies that address social challenges, promote economic stability, and allocate resources efficiently.

8. International Economists

Study global economic trends, trade policies, and international relations. In a country like South Africa, heavily involved in international trade, economists in this field provide valuable insights into global economic dynamics, trade negotiations, and geopolitical considerations.

9. Health Economists

Examine the economic aspects of healthcare systems. In South Africa, health economists contribute to designing policies that ensure access to healthcare, optimize resource allocation in the health sector, and address health disparities.

10. Agricultural Economists

Specialize in the economics of agriculture and rural development. Given the significance of agriculture in South Africa, economists in this field contribute to policies that support sustainable farming practices, address food security, and enhance rural livelihoods.

The diverse roles of economists in South Africa reflect the complexity of the country’s economic landscape. Whether shaping national policies, guiding businesses, or conducting research, economists in South Africa contribute significantly to the development and well-being of the nation.

Factors Affecting Economist Salaries in South Africa

Several factors can influence the salary of economists in South Africa. These factors include:

1. Education and Experience

Economists with advanced degrees (such as a master’s or Ph.D.) typically earn higher salaries than those with only a bachelor’s degree. Experience also plays a significant role, with more experienced economists often earning higher salaries.

2. Specialization

The field of economics is diverse, and economists can specialize in various areas, such as macroeconomics, microeconomics, finance, development economics, and more. Specialized knowledge and skills can command higher salaries, especially in industries that value those specialities.

3. Location

The cost of living and demand for economists can vary by region. Major cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Pretoria often have higher salaries to match the higher cost of living. Economists in rural areas or smaller towns may earn less.

4. Industry or Sector

The industry or sector in which an economist works can significantly impact their salary. Economists in the private sector, especially in finance, banking, and consulting, often command higher salaries compared to those in the public sector or academia.

5. Employer and Organization Size

The size and reputation of the employer can also affect salaries. Economists working for well-established and larger organizations may receive higher compensation. Government agencies and nonprofits may offer competitive but sometimes lower salaries than private sector companies.

6. Economic Conditions

The overall economic conditions in South Africa can influence economist salaries. Economic growth and stability can lead to higher demand for economic analysis, potentially driving up salaries. Conversely, economic downturns or recession can affect salaries as organizations cut costs.

7. Negotiation Skills

An economist’s ability to negotiate salary and benefits during the hiring process can also impact their earnings. Effective negotiation can lead to better compensation packages.

8. Certifications and Professional Memberships

Holding certifications or being a member of professional organizations related to economics can be advantageous and may result in higher salaries. For example, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or membership in the South African Economic Society may be beneficial.

9. Network and Connections

Building a strong professional network and having connections in the industry can lead to better job opportunities and potentially higher salaries.

10. Job Performance

Performance evaluations, promotions, and merit-based salary increases also play a role in an economist’s income. Consistently delivering high-quality work and results can lead to raises and bonuses.

How to Become an Economist in South Africa

Becoming an economist in South Africa typically involves several educational and career steps. Here’s a general guide on how to become an economist in South Africa:

1. Educational Preparation

– High School Education: Start by completing your high school education with a focus on subjects like mathematics, economics, and other related subjects.
– Bachelor’s Degree: Pursue a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) or a related degree with a major or specialization in economics. Alternatively, you can complete a Bachelor of Economics (BEcon) degree.

2. Build a Strong Foundation

Focus on excelling in your undergraduate studies and consider taking courses in various subfields of economics to get a broad understanding of the discipline. Participate in extracurricular activities or internships related to economics to gain practical experience and build your resume.

3. Further Education (Optional)

While a bachelor’s degree can open doors to some entry-level positions, many economists pursue advanced degrees like a Master of Economics (M.Econ) or a Master of Commerce in Economics. Some may even pursue a Ph.D. for research or academic roles.

4. Gain Practical Experience

Seek internships or entry-level positions in organizations where you can apply economic principles. This could include government agencies, research firms, banks, consulting companies, or other businesses.

5. Specialization and Certification

Consider specializing in a particular area of economics, such as macroeconomics, microeconomics, finance, or international trade. Specialization can make you more competitive in the job market.
Some economists pursue certifications, such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, which is especially relevant for those interested in finance and investment.

6. Network and Stay Informed

Join professional organizations like the South African Economic Society (SAES) and attend conferences, workshops, and seminars to network with other economists and stay updated on industry trends.

7. Apply for Jobs

Create a professional resume and cover letter highlighting your qualifications and experience. Apply for economist positions at government agencies, private companies, financial institutions, research organizations, and academia.

8. Advance Your Career

As you gain experience, continue to build your skills and expertise in your chosen area of economics. Consider pursuing advanced degrees or certifications if it aligns with your career goals.

9. Continuing Education and Professional Development

Keep up-to-date with developments in the field of economics through continuous learning, workshops, and professional development opportunities.

10. Licensing and Registration (if applicable)

In some cases, certain roles in the financial sector may require licensing and registration with relevant regulatory bodies.



The average Economist Salary in South Africa is R52,308 per month. To become an economist in South Africa, one should start with a bachelor’s degree in economics or a related field and gain practical experience through internships or entry-level positions. Advanced degrees and specializations can enhance career prospects.

Networking, staying informed about industry trends, and potential certifications like the CFA are valuable. Continuous learning and professional development are essential for career growth. The path to becoming an economist in South Africa offers diverse opportunities and avenues for specialization, reflecting the dynamic nature of the field.