Companies that need help to understand their customers and marketplace often turn to market research analysts for valuable insight. Analysts study the conditions in the market to determine the sales potential of a new product or service. In that way, they help organizations to know exactly what people want and how much they are willing to pay.
Market research analysts spend a great deal of time collecting data on consumers, competitors and the marketplace. They analyze the data using statistical software that converts complex information into comprehensible charts, graphs and tables. They prepare reports for clients or management covering subjects such as potential markets, anticipated product demand and optimal pricing. Businesses use this information to develop sales plans, promotions, and other sales and marketing materials. Market research analysts must be detail-oriented, with strong analytic skills, and they must be comfortable interpreting large amounts of data. Critical-thinking and communication skills are necessary to devise appropriate strategies and to communicate these ideas to clients or management.
Education and Training
Employers usually expect market research analysts to have a bachelor’s degree in market research or a related field such as computer science, math or statistics. Higher level positions often require a master’s degree in market research, marketing, statistics or business administration. Internships are a great way to gain experience in collecting and analyzing data, writing reports and conducting surveys. They are often used as a stepping stone to entry-level positions. Certification is not mandatory, but it helps to demonstrate a level of professional ability. The Professional Researcher Certification from the Marketing Research Association is a popular choice.
Market research analysts have a number of career options. Large companies in a wide variety of industries hire research analysts directly to help in their sales and marketing departments. Specialized research companies, which provide market information to the end user, also employ analysts to conduct research. Highly experienced research professionals can find work as consultants to either research companies or end users. Data collection and processing firms need market research analysts to fill a number of positions. These companies can often be a good source of entry-level jobs. Since market research relies heavily on software vendors and service providers, these companies frequently hire market research analysts to sell their products to research firms and end users.
Earnings and Outlook
Market research analysts make a decent living, with the majority earning between $43,930 and $84,960, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics 2011 data. The median wage for the same period is $60,250, a slight decrease from the prior year’s figure of $60,570. Though wages remain flat, demand for these services continues tot grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that jobs for market research analysts are projected to grow by 41 percent between 2010 and 2020. That compares to the 14 percent average growth rate expected for all occupations.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Occupational Outlook Handbook; Market Research Analysts
- O*NET: 13-1161.00 - Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists
- U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists
- Marketing Research Association: Career Guide