Market Research Analysts Overview

Market research analysts can work with a bachelor’s degree, but a masters degree or Ph.D. in social science or marketing will lead to better opportunities. Strong quantitative skills are important in the field, and these professionals should also know how to conduct web-based surveys. Over the next decade, experts expect employment to grow much faster than average.

Nature of the Work for Market Research Analysts

Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts compile people’s opinions. They help companies determine the kinds of products their customers and potential customers may want as well figuring out who will buy them and what price will work best. Market research analysts use data from past sales to predict future sales, gather statistics on competitors and look at sales, prices and marketing and distribution methods.

Much of the data market research analysts need comes from surveys that assess consumer preferences. These professionals devise methods and procedures for attaining this information and design appropriate surveys. Many surveys are conducted on the web or via telephone, but focus groups, mail responses and booths in public places like shopping malls can also be used.

Market research has helped improve our standard of living by letting companies understand the products and services consumers are looking to buy. Market research analysts make recommendations to their employer or clients, providing vital information that can help them decide how to design, promote and distribute products and services. For example, as more consumers wanted fast and convenient meals, manufacturers responded with prepackaged meat products, microwaveable dinners and so on. And market research also helped create the best design for child proof closures on medicine bottles. Companies use the work of market research analysts to decide whether they should diversify their operations through new branches, new lines of merchandise or other avenues. Also part of a market research analyst’s job is helping to develop promotions including rebates and giveaways, advertising and sales plans based on their findings about the target consumer.

Structured work schedules are normal for market research analysts who typically work in offices, but sometimes must travel to conduct research or present findings. Usually they work alone, compiling information on computers, but sometimes work is done as part of a research team. Those that conduct personal interviews will be in frequent contact with the public. Because market research analysts are often working against deadlines and tight schedules, overtime hours are sometimes required.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Market Research Analysts

At the entry-level a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for market research analysts, but higher degrees are usually required for more technical positions or advancement. Workers looking to advance should also have strong quantitative skills and keep up on the latest methods for conducting, developing and analyzing surveys and data.

The minimum educational requirement for market research analysts is a bachelor’s degree, but a masters degree is needed for more technical jobs.

Prospective market research analysts should take college courses in business, marketing, consumer behavior, psychology, sociology and economics. To develop strong quantitative skills, mathematics, statistics, survey design, computer science and sampling theory are useful. For those seeking advanced degrees, market research analysts typically major in marketing, statistics, business administration, communications or related fields.

Aspiring market research analysts can gain experience in college by conducting interviews, gathering and analyzing data and writing reports on their results. These are the types of duties required on the job, so gaining experience early can be helpful when looking for full time work. Some colleges and universities help masters degree students still in school locate part time jobs or internships with marketing research firms, consulting firms, financial institutions and government agencies.

Market research analysts should be detail-oriented to handle the large amount of work involved in precise data analysis. Persistence and patience can also come in handy as these workers spend many solo hours studying data and solving problems. That said, people skills are also important as they must work with other researchers as well as oversee the interview process. Communication skills can help in the written or spoken wording of surveys and presentations of findings.

At the beginning of their careers most market research analysts start as assistants before they’re given their own research projects to tackle. Responsibilities come with experience, advanced degrees and continuing education. Eventually, workers can earn promotions to supervisory or managerial positions. Often government and corporate executives have strong marketing backgrounds. Market research analysts also sometimes teach. With a masters degree they can teach in community colleges, but a Ph.D. is required to teach at the college level and for a professorship, tenure or promotion, extensive publications in academic journals are also necessary.

Another way to advance in this career is through certification. Professional research who want to demonstrate their expertise can seek certification through the Marketing Research Association (MRA). The Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) is offered at both the practitioner and expert levels. Before earning certification, each level requires certain criteria such as education and experience as well as a membership to a professional marketing research organization. The PRC designation also requires continuing education in their discipline and must be renewed every 2 years.

Top 10 Most Popular Marketing Research Schools

1. Fairleigh Dickinson University - College at Florham (Madison, New Jersey)
2. Long Island University, Brooklyn (Brooklyn, New York)
3. The University of Texas at Arlington (Arlington, Texas)
4. Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, New York)
5. University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
6. Carthage College (Kenosha, Wisconsin)
7. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (Edwardsville, Illinois)
8. Fairleigh Dickinson University, Metropolitan Campus, Teaneck (Teaneck, New Jersey)
9. University of Nebraska, Lincoln (Lincoln, Nebraska)
10. DePaul University (Chicago, Illinois)

See All Marketing Research Schools

Employment and Job Outlook for Market Research Analysts

Number of People in Profession

226,410

Changing Employment (2008-2018)

Employment is projected to grow much faster than average (increase 20% or more).

In 2008, there were about 249,800 working market research analysts. Because their work can be conducted through many industries, jobs were located throughout the economy. Top industries employing market research analysts include: Computer systems design and related services, insurance carriers, management of companies and enterprises, management, scientific, and technical consulting services and other professional, scientific and technical services such as marketing research and public opinion polling.

Many market research analysts tend to work both a full time job in business, government or academia and do consulting work on the side. Self-employed market research analysts and survey researchers make up 7 percent of the field.

Faculty positions at colleges and universities are another possibility for market research analysts, but they’re typically not counted as market research analysts and instead counted as postsecondary teachers.

Employment is projected to grow much faster than average for market research analysts. Strong quantitative skills along with a masters degree or Ph.D. in marketing or a social science will help applicants secure the best jobs.

Over the next decade employment of market research analysts should grow much faster than average for all occupations. Competition between companies looking to expand their market and increase sales of their products will generate a need for marketing professionals, especially market research analysts. These workers can offer valuable information and analysis on customer satisfaction, which helps companies adjust marketing strategies and plan for the future. Marketing research helps determine the future locations of malls and stores as well as the consumer preferences of products and services. Market research analysts will also be in demand as the globalization of the marketplace requires the analysis of foreign competition and markets.

Market research analysts with only a bachelor’s degree may have a hard time securing a job—many positions including technical ones now require an advanced degree. However, bachelor’s degree holders with strong quantitative skills and a background in survey design, computer science, statistics or mathematics will find good opportunities. Less technical positions, including public opinion researchers, are often suited to those with a bachelor’s degree in a social science such as economics, sociology or psychology. The Professional Researcher Certification demonstrates professionalism and competence and can be important in the job hunt. Jobseekers with a masters degree or Ph.D. in marketing or a related field who have the quantitative skills to match will find the best opportunities. Consulting firms and marketing firms will provide some of the top opportunities for market research analysts as many companies seek these services on a contract basis to save costs. Jobs are also often found with healthcare institutions, insurance companies, advertising firms, financial services organizations, software publishers and computer systems design companies. More and more market research analysts help clients implement their recommendations and ideas in addition to collecting and analyzing survey data.

Earnings and Salary for Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts earn median annual salaries of $61,070. The highest 10 percent earn above $112,410, the lowest 10 percent earn under $33,770 and the middle 50 percent earn between $43,990 and $85,510. The industries that employ the largest number of market research analysts pay workers median salaries as follows:

Management, scientific, and technical consulting services: $55,570

Advertising, public relations, and related services: $56,730

Other professional, scientific, and technical services: $58,480

Management of companies and enterprises: $65,880

Computer systems design and related services: $77,170

Annual Salary for Market Research Analysts

On average, Market Research Analysts earn $61,580 per year.

10% 25% 75% 90% $34,260/yr $44,600/yr $85,230/yr $111,900/yr

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook