Samuel Abrines was educated at Marr College, Troon. This was followed by a year at Glasgow School of Art and then national service in the RAF. Afterwards, he studied economics at the University of Glasgow, receiving an MA in 1955.
After university, he worked in insurance for two years and then taught geography at Bellshill Academy. In 1962, he became lecturer in industrial administration at the Scottish College of Commerce, a post he continued to hold at the University of Strathclyde.
Abrines also acted as a consultant on industrial relations and the implications of equal pay for women.