The word economist is close economics, which is the science of money. An economist is a person who practices that science.
If your economics course isn't being taught by an economist, the chances are you should switch sections. In the 16th century, the word was used to describe the person who managed the household, which certainly explains courses in "home economics." But the current meaning of economist — a person who studies the flow of cash and credit between people, institutions, banks, etc. — first developed during the 18th century. Perhaps that's no surprise either, as that's when the global economy truly became, well, global.