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, the research methods, and other test parameters. Research officers may also review and analyze data during the course of the project. Employers strongly 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 (2012-2022) 27% (operations research analysts)*
Median Salary (2014) $76,660 (operations research analysts)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Research Officer Job Description

Professionals in this position, who may also be called research managers, supervise research projects from the early planning stages until the final 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 may 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.


In April 2012, job postings listed on several job boards showed that employers hiring research officers or managers preferred applicants with graduate degrees in related fields. Since research occurs in nearly every industry, research officers and managers often possess different academic backgrounds.

Based on common skill requirements from these job postings, useful graduate courses may cover topics such as data collection and analysis, statistical computer software programs, qualitative data research, quantitative data sets, project management, and 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 may also 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 may also get the necessary experience by running smaller research projects or working as research officer assistants. 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 Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS,, the median annual salary earned by operations research analysts, the category under which research officers fall, was $76,660 in May 2013. The employment of operations research analysts is expected to grow by 27% between 2012 and 2022, per the BLS.

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