While a bachelor's degree is often sufficient for entry-level market and
survey research jobs, higher degrees are usually required for advancement and
more technical positions. Strong quantitative skills and keeping current with
the latest methods of developing, conducting, and analyzing surveys and other
data also are important for advancement.
Education and training. A bachelor's
degree is the minimum educational requirement for many market and survey
research jobs. However, a master's degree is usually required for more technical
In addition to completing courses in business, marketing, and consumer
behavior, prospective market and survey researchers should take social science
courses, including economics, psychology 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. Market and survey researchers often earn advanced degrees
in business administration, marketing, statistics, communications, or other
closely related disciplines.
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 toward
obtaining a full-time position in the field, because much of the work may center
on these duties. 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.
Other qualifications. Market and survey
researchers spend a lot of time performing precise data analysis, so being
detail-oriented is critical. Patience and persistence are also necessary
qualities because these workers devote long hours to independent study and
problem solving. At the same time, they must work well with others as market and
survey researchers sometimes oversee the interviewing of individuals.
Communication skills are important, too, because the wording of surveys is
critical, and researchers must be able to present their findings both orally and
Certification and 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
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.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition
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