Research Officer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a research officer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about education, job duties, and other skill requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Research officers supervise research projects and work with team members to ensure that the project remains on schedule. They help determine the goals of the research project as well as research methods and other test parameters. Research officers might also review and analyze data during the course of the project. Employers typically prefer candidates with a graduate degree and computer skills.

Required Education A graduate degree in a related field
Other Requirements Computer skills, on-the-job experience; a security clearance may be required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 30% (operations research analysts)*
Mean Salary (2015) $84,180 (operations research analysts)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Professionals in this position, who may also be called research managers, supervise research projects from the early planning stages to project completion. They communicate with team members and verify that all projects and tasks are on schedule. Some managers or officers also help gather data, but this varies by industry and project need. Most research officers and managers report project progress to supervisors and other committees.

Job Duties

While projects are in the planning stages, research officers and managers work with team members to identify project goals, research methods, variables, and other test parameters. They also choose how to collect data and offer recommendations on evaluating the project. Research officers and managers often make research schedules to monitor the activities of research teams.

During the research project, officers and managers usually review gathered research and analyze various sets of data. They might also interpret data and start writing reports. Many research officers and managers also verify that information on databases remains secure, as well as ensure that all team members complete their tasks and work cooperatively with the team.

Requirements

Since research occurs in nearly every industry, research officers and managers often possess different academic backgrounds. Useful graduate courses may cover topics such as:

  • Data collection and analysis
  • Statistical computer software programs
  • Qualitative data research
  • Quantitative data sets
  • Project management
  • Communications

Regardless of industry, employers also require research officers and managers to possess significant computer skills. Professionals often need the skills to create documents with tables, figures, and other embedded elements. They also might be expected to make presentations with the use of technical visual aids. Research officers and managers must also understand how to implement security software protocols to keep research projects safe and confidential.

Since the position of research officer is a supervisory role, employers generally require several years of experience. Individuals can accrue experience by working as research team members. They also might get the necessary experience by running smaller research projects or working as a research officer assistant. Supervisory positions often require security clearance in various industries, particularly at government research facilities, so applicants may have to pass background checks before getting hired.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual salary for operations research analysts, the category under which research officers fall, was $84,180 as of May 2015. The BLS also projected that employment of operations research analysts would grow by 30% between 2014 and 2024, which was much faster than the average for all occupations.

In summary, research officers help set goals for and supervise research projects, while ensuring that they remain on schedule. This job typically requires a graduate degree and previous research experience.

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