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Market and Survey Researchers - What They Do


How to Advance (Advancement)
Market research analysts often begin their careers by assisting others prior to being assigned independent research projects. With experience, continuing education, and advanced degrees, they may advance to more responsible positions in this occupation. Those with expertise in marketing or survey research may choose to teach. While a master's degree is often sufficient to teach as a marketing or survey research instructor in junior and community colleges, most colleges and universities require instructors to hold a Ph.D. A Ph.D. and extensive publications in academic journals are needed for professorship, tenure, and promotion. Others advance to supervisory or managerial positions. Many corporation and government executives have a strong background in marketing.

Advancement in this occupation may be helped by obtaining certification. The Marketing Research Association (MRA) offers a certification program for professional researchers who wish to demonstrate their expertise. The Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) is awarded for two levels of knowledge: practitioner and expert. Prior to gaining certification, each level of knowledge requires certain criteria to be met, consisting largely of education and experience, and also previous membership to at least one professional marketing research organization. Those who have been granted the PRC designation require continuing education within their particular discipline, and individuals must apply to renew their certification every 2 years.

Employment
Market and survey researchers held about 273,200 jobs in 2008, most of which—249,800—were 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 employed the largest number of market research analysts in 2008 were management, scientific, and technical consulting services; management of companies and enterprises; computer systems design and related services; insurance carriers; and other professional, scientific, and technical services—which includes marketing research and public opinion polling.

Survey researchers held about 23,400 jobs in 2008. Most were employed primarily by firms in other professional, scientific, and technical services—which include market research and public opinion polling; scientific research and development services; and management, scientific, and technical consulting services. About 9 percent of survey researchers worked in educational services—which includes colleges, universities, and professional schools.

A number of market and survey researchers combine a full-time job in government, academia, or business with part-time consulting work in another setting. About 7 percent of market and survey researchers are self-employed.

Besides holding the previously mentioned jobs, many people who perform market and survey research held faculty positions in colleges and universities. These workers are counted as postsecondary teachers rather than market and survey researchers.

Job Outlook
Employment growth of market and survey researchers is projected to be much faster than average. Job opportunities should be best for jobseekers with a master's or Ph.D. degree in marketing or a social science and with strong quantitative skills.

Job Growth
Overall employment of market and survey researchers is projected to grow 28 percent from 2008 to 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. Market research analysts, the larger specialty, will experience much faster than average job growth because competition between companies seeking to expand their market and sales of their products will generate a growing need for marketing professionals. Marketing research provides organizations valuable feedback from purchasers, allowing companies to evaluate consumer satisfaction and adjust their marketing strategies and plan more effectively for the future. Future locations of stores and shopping centers, for example, will be determined by marketing research, as will consumer preference of virtually all products and services. In addition, globalization of the marketplace creates a need for more market researchers to analyze foreign markets and competition.

Survey researchers, a much smaller specialty, will also increase much faster than average as public policy groups and all levels of governments increasingly use public opinion research to help determine a variety of issues, such as the best mass transit systems, social programs, and special services for school children and senior citizens that will be needed. Survey researchers will also be needed to meet the growing demand for market and opinion research as an increasingly competitive economy requires businesses and organizations to allocate advertising funds and other expenditures more effectively and efficiently.

Bachelor's degree holders may face competition for market research jobs, as many positions, especially technical ones, require a master's or doctoral degree. Among bachelor's degree holders, those with good quantitative skills, including a strong background in mathematics, statistics, survey design, and computer science, will have the best opportunities. Those with a background in consumer behavior or an undergraduate degree in a social science—psychology, sociology, or economics—may qualify for less technical positions, such as a public opinion researcher. Obtaining the Professional Researcher Certification also can be important as it demonstrates competence and professionalism among potential candidates. Overall, job opportunities should be best for jobseekers with a master's or Ph.D. degree in marketing or a related field and with strong quantitative skills. 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. However, other organizations, including computer systems design companies, software publishers, financial services organizations, healthcare institutions, advertising firms, and insurance companies, may also offer job opportunities for market research analysts. Increasingly, market research analysts not only collect and analyze information, but also help clients implement ideas and recommendations.

There will be fewer job opportunities for survey researchers since it is a relatively smaller occupation and a greater number of candidates qualify for these positions. The best prospects will come from growth in the market research and public opinion polling industry, which employs many survey researchers.

Earnings
Median annual wages of market research analysts in May 2008 were $61,070. The middle 50 percent earned between $43,990 and $85,510. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,770, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $112,410.

Median annual wages of survey researchers in May 2008 were $36,220. The middle 50 percent earned between $22,290 and $54,480. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,650, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $75,940. Median annual wages of survey researchers in other professional, scientific, and technical services were $26,440.

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