Market and survey researchers need at least a bachelorís degree,
but a masterís degree may be required for employment; continuing
education also is important.
Employment is expected to grow faster than average.
Job opportunities should be best for those with a masterís
or Ph.D. degree in marketing or a related field and strong quantitative
Nature of the Work
Market, or marketing, research analysts are concerned
with the potential sales of a product or service. Gathering statistical
data on competitors and examining prices, sales, and methods of
marketing and distribution, they analyze data on past sales to
predict future sales. Market research analysts devise methods
and procedures for obtaining the data they need. Often, they design
telephone, mail, or Internet surveys to assess consumer preferences.
They conduct some surveys as personal interviews, going door-to-door,
leading focus group discussions, or setting up booths in public
places such as shopping malls. Trained interviewers usually conduct
the surveys under the market research analystís direction.
After compiling and evaluating the data, market research analysts
make recommendations to their client or employer on the basis
of their findings. They provide a companyís management with information
needed to make decisions on the promotion, distribution, design,
and pricing of products or services. The information also may
be used to determine the advisability of adding new lines of merchandise,
opening new branches, or otherwise diversifying the companyís
operations. Market research analysts also might develop advertising
brochures and commercials, sales plans, and product promotions
such as rebates and giveaways.
Survey researchers design and conduct surveys for a variety
of clients, such as corporations, government agencies, political
candidates, and providers of various services. The surveys collect
information that is used for performing research, making fiscal
or policy decisions, measuring the effectiveness of those decisions,
or improving customer satisfaction. Analysts may conduct opinion
research to determine public attitudes on various issues; the
research results may help political or business leaders and others
assess public support for their electoral prospects or social
policies. Like market research analysts, survey researchers may
use a variety of mediums to conduct surveys, such as the Internet,
personal or telephone interviews, or questionnaires sent through
the mail. They also may supervise interviewers who conduct surveys
in person or over the telephone.
Survey researchers design surveys in many different formats,
depending upon the scope of their research and the method of collection.
Interview surveys, for example, are common because they can increase
participation rates. Survey researchers may consult with economists,
statisticians, market research analysts, or other data users in
order to design surveys. They also may present survey results
Market and survey researchers generally have structured work
schedules. Some often work alone, writing reports, preparing statistical
charts, and using computers, but they also may be an integral
part of a research team. Market researchers who conduct personal
interviews have frequent contact with the public. Most work under
pressure of deadlines and tight schedules, which may require overtime.
Their routine may be interrupted by special requests for data,
as well as by the need to attend meetings or conferences. Travel
may be necessary.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
A bachelorís degree is the minimum educational requirement for
many market and survey research jobs. However, a masterís degree
may be required, especially for technical positions, and increases
opportunities for advancement to more responsible positions. Also,
continuing education is important in order to keep current with
the latest methods of developing, conducting, and analyzing surveys
and other data. Market and survey researchers may earn advanced
degrees in business administration, marketing, statistics, communications,
or some closely related discipline. Some schools help graduate
students find internships or part-time employment in government
agencies, consulting firms, financial institutions, or marketing
research firms prior to graduation.
In addition to completing courses in business, marketing, and
consumer behavior, prospective market and survey researchers should
take other liberal arts and social science courses, including
economics, psychology, English, and sociology. Because of the
importance of quantitative skills to market and survey researchers,
courses in mathematics, statistics, sampling theory and survey
design, and computer science are extremely helpful. Many corporation
and government executives have a strong background in marketing.
A masterís degree is usually the minimum educational requirement
for a job as a marketing or survey research instructor in junior
and community colleges. In most colleges and universities, however,
a Ph.D. is necessary for appointment as an instructor. A Ph.D.
and extensive publications in academic journals are required for
a professorship, tenure, and promotion.
While in college, aspiring market and survey researchers should
gain experience gathering and analyzing data, conducting interviews
or surveys, and writing reports on their findings. This experience
can prove invaluable later in obtaining a full-time position in
the field, because much of the initial work may center on these
duties. With experience, market and survey researchers eventually
are assigned their own research projects.
Much of the market and survey researcherís time is spent on precise
data analysis, so those considering careers in the occupation
should be able to pay attention to detail. Patience and persistence
are necessary qualities because these workers must spend long
hours on independent study and problem solving. At the same time,
they must work well with others: often, market and survey researchers
oversee interviews of a wide variety of individuals. Communication
skills are important, too, because researchers must be able to
present their findings both orally and in writing, in a clear,
While certification currently is not required for market and
survey researchers, the Marketing Research Association (MRA) offers
a certification program for professional researchers. Certification
is based on education and experience requirements, as well as
on continuing education.
Market and survey researchers held about 212,000 jobs in 2004,
most of whichó190,000ówere held by market research analysts. Because
of the applicability of market research to many industries, market
research analysts are employed throughout the economy. The industries
that employ the largest number of market research analysts were
management of companies and enterprises; management, scientific,
and technical consulting services; insurance carriers; credit
intermediation and related activities; computer systems design
and related services; marketing research and public opinion polling;
software publishers; professional and commercial equipment and
supplies merchant wholesalers; securities and commodity contracts
intermediation and brokerage; and advertising and related services.
Survey researchers held about 22,000 jobs in 2004. Survey researchers
were employed mainly by professional, scientific, and technical
services firms, especially in market research and public opinion
polling; scientific research and development services; and management,
scientific, and technical consulting services. State government
also provided many jobs for survey researchers.
A number of market and survey researchers combine a full-time
job in government, academia, or business with part-time or consulting
work in another setting. About nine percent of market and survey
researchers are self-employed.
Besides holding the previously mentioned jobs, many market and
survey researchers held faculty positions in colleges and universities.
Marketing faculties have flexible work schedules and may divide
their time among teaching, research, consulting, and administration.
(See the statement on teachersópostsecondary in the Careers database.
Employment of market and survey researchers is expected to grow
faster than average for all occupations through 2014. Many job
openings are likely to result from the need to replace experienced
workers who transfer to other occupations or who retire or leave
the labor force for other reasons.
Job opportunities should be best for those with a masterís or
Ph.D. degree in marketing or a related field and strong quantitative
skills. Bachelorís degree holders may face competition, as many
positions, especially the more technical ones, require a masterís
or higher degree. Among bachelorís degree holders, those with
good quantitative skills, including a strong background in mathematics,
statistics, survey design, and computer science, will have the
best opportunities. Ph.D. degree holders in marketing and related
fields should have a range of opportunities in industry and consulting
firms. Like those in many other disciplines, however, Ph.D. holders
probably will face keen competition for tenured teaching positions
in colleges and universities.
Demand for market research analysts should be strong because
of an increasingly competitive economy. Marketing research provides
organizations valuable feedback from purchasers, allowing companies
to evaluate consumer satisfaction and plan more effectively for
the future. As companies seek to expand their market and as consumers
become better informed, the need for marketing professionals will
increase. In addition, as globalization of the marketplace continues,
market researchers will increasingly be utilized to analyze foreign
markets and competition for goods and services.
Market research analysts should have the best opportunities in
consulting firms and marketing research firms as companies find
it more profitable to contract for market research services rather
than support their own marketing department. Increasingly, market
research analysts not only are collecting and analyzing information,
but also are helping clients implement the analystsí ideas and
recommendations. Other organizations, including computer systems
design companies, software publishers, financial services organizations,
health care institutions, advertising firms, and insurance companies,
may offer job opportunities for market research analysts. Survey
researchers will be needed to meet the growing demand for market
and opinion research as an increasingly competitive economy requires
businesses to allocate advertising funds more effectively and
Median annual earnings of market research analysts in May 2004
were $56,140. The middle 50 percent earned between $40,510 and
$79,990. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,890, and the
highest 10 percent earned more than $105,870. Median annual earnings
in the industries employing the largest numbers of market research
analysts in May 2004 were:
Management of companies and enterprises
Computer systems design and related services
Other professional, scientific, and technical
Management, scientific, and technical consulting
Median annual earnings of survey researchers in May 2004 were
$26,490. The middle 50 percent earned between $17,920 and $41,390.
The lowest 10 percent earned less than $15,330, and the highest
10 percent earned more than $56,740. Median annual earnings of
survey researchers in other professional, scientific, and technical
services were $22,880.