Research analyst careers appeal to people who enjoy research, collecting and analyzing information, problem-solving and who can communicate their findings clearly. Careers for research analysts exist in numerous sectors, including marketing, business operations, finance, management and government. Qualifications vary, but in general research analysts need strong mathematical, communication and critical-thinking skills. They also should be flexible, capable of working independently or as part of a team.
Market Research Analyst
Using techniques ranging from surveys and focus groups to statistical analysis and data mining, market research analysts study consumer preferences and buying habits to help companies more effectively market their products and services. Market analysts also predict future sales. Becoming a market research specialist requires at least a bachelor's degree in marketing or a related field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, projects faster-than-average job growth in this field, adding that the best opportunities will exist for experienced analysts with graduate-level degrees. Salaries for market reserch analysts averaged $67,130 in 2011, according to the BLS.
Often referred to as management consultants, these analysts help corporate and other clients develop strategies, streamline operations and boost profits. Recent graduates of top business schools sometimes start their business careers as management consultants, working for top consulting firms. Becoming a management analyst requires a bachelor's or master's degree, often in such fields as business administration, management or economics. Management consultants need excellent research, analysis, critical-thinking and communication skills. Salaries for management consultants averaged $87,980 in 2011, with analysts at management consulting firms earning more than $100,000 per year, according to the BLS.
Operations Research Analyst
Operations research analysts specialize in crunching the numbers to resolve employers' problems in such areas as efficient use of labor and materials. Analysts apply mathematical models and statistical techniques to analyze large amounts of data, and prepare reports of their results. Operations research analysts work in nearly any setting that collects and analyzes large amounts of data, such as manufacturing, transportation and government. Becoming an operations researcher generally requires a master's degree in mathematics, operations research, economics or a related field. However the BLS reported that some entry-level positions may be available to bachelor's degree holders. Salaries for operations research analysts averaged $78,840 per year in 2011, according to the BLS.
Public Policy Analyst
Analytical types with a passion for politics and public affairs sometimes work as public policy analysts. They conduct research and analysis on public policy alternatives in areas ranging from education and criminal justice to national security and environmental protection. Many analysts testify on their findings to congressional committees and other legislative panels. Employers of public policy analysts include government agencies, nonprofit organizations and policy research firms, often referred to as "think tanks." Policy analysts in government assess proposed new policies, as well as evaluate existing government programs. Becoming a policy analyst requires at least a bachelor's degree, usually in a social science field, such as political science, economics or sociology. The BLS does not collect salary data on policy analysts but reports that compensation varies widely, based on employer and an analyst's experience.
Financial analysts initiate and conduct research on companies, monitor performance of stocks, and offer recommendations to investment advisers and investors about whether to buy or sell particular stocks. Many financial and equity research analysts develop expertise on particular types of stocks or business sectors, such as biotechnology, health care or energy. Financial analysts often work long hours, including evenings and weekends, but receive high salaries that often include annual performance bonuses. The website Mergers and Inquisitions reported that equity research analysts earn $90,000 to $115,000 per year, including bonuses, as beginning research associates. Analysts often earn around $300,000 per year in salary and bonus, the website reported.
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