Number of Jobs
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Business Jobs||#1|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#15|
Imagine having the inside scoop on which products people want to buy and what those people are willing to spend. That’s the basic job description of a market research analyst. These consumer-focused professionals use their understanding of supply and demand and purchasing preferences when collecting information in the form of surveys, questionnaires and opinion polls. Collection is then followed by analysis. Based on complex data, market research analysts churn out reports on sales trends, consumer demographics, preferences, needs and buying habits, and they present the findings in an understandable way for clients. According to Ken Roberts, president of the San Francisco-based marketing research company Cooper Roberts Research, working in this profession requires skills that are seemingly at odds with each other: understanding both emotions and logic. The process of collecting data and thinking about it critically is logical and quantifiable; gauging why target audiences might be attracted to a particular product is anything but.
The demand from a range of industries – including research companies, colleges and government agencies – for data that spurs effective marketing strategies will lead to growth in this field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a whopping 31.6 percent employment increase between 2012 and 2022 and 131,500 new job openings.
Market research analysts earned a median salary of $60,300 in 2012, according the BLS. The best-paid earned more than $113,500 while the lowest-paid earned less than $33,280. Software publishers, aerospace manufacturing and the federal executive branch of the government are sectors that pay market research analysts particularly well. And if you live in California, you’re in luck – the top-paying cities for market research analysts include San Jose, Calif., San Francisco and Oakland, Calif.
Becoming a market research analyst requires at least a bachelor’s degree, but there’s a range of majors you could choose. The BLS notes that statistics, math, computer science and business administration are good specialities, but studying one of the social sciences, like communication, may also serve a budding analyst well. Roberts is a case study for how someone can advance his or her career within the profession. After graduating with a double major in mathematics and business administration from Northern Kentucky University, Roberts spent the next three decades moving up in the field. He worked as a senior project director for Burgoyne, Inc. – a position that involves managing market research studies, performing analyses and writing reports. He also served as vice president of SPAR/Burgoyne before becoming president of his own company. “I started with marketing research when I got out of school, and I stuck with it,” he says.
“Internships are a good way to get into the field,” Roberts says. He adds that the Burke Institute, an Ohio-based international research and consulting firm, offers multiple-day workshops on industry skills such as designing effective questionnaires and moderating focus groups, along with exploring the relationship between variables found in data. These workshops are available to professionals in any stage of their career.
Having previous work experience in business, marketing and sales can also boost career prospects. Those in the profession may begin their careers either at the corporate level or working for a smaller research company like the one Roberts now leads, but Roberts stresses that when starting out, you’ll likely focus on collecting data – rather than analyzing it – for up to five years.
|Upward Mobility||good High|
|Stress Level||poor Above Average|
|Flexibility||poor Below Average|
Last updated by Jada A. Graves.