Innovators Guide

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Market Researcher Training and Qualifications

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 positions.

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 in writing.

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 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.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition

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Market Researcher Job Outlook     Market Researcher Income


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