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Consumer Studies Professional: Employment & Career Info

Consumer studies professionals document and analyze people's buying and shopping habits. Continue reading to learn more about education requirements, employment prospects, and potential salaries for consumer studies professionals.

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Career Definition for a Consumer Studies Professional

Consumer studies professionals who acquire and analyze data can be employed as field interviewers, marketing strategists, professors, or research analysts. Daily activities vary according to the position and can include tracking the spending habits of consumers in different age, gender, or ethnic groups. Consumer studies professionals might also gather information from shoppers in a particular geographical location or analyze the implications of previously gathered data. Those who are employed as field interviewers or professors may conduct face-to-face interviews or teaches classes about consumer habits.

Required Education A high school diploma for entry-level field interviewers; a bachelor's degree for market research analyst jobs; a master's degree or higher for post-secondary teaching posts
Job Duties Vary depending on position; include tracking the spending habits of consumers, gathering information from shoppers
Median Salary (2015) $62,150 (all market research analysts)
$72,470 (all post-secondary teachers)
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 19% growth (all market research analysts)
13% (all post-secondary teachers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

According to the American Institute of Consumer Studies, field interviewers might be able to find entry-level positions with only a high school diploma (www.aicscareers.com). Students interested in becoming market research analysts will need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in the same or a similar field of study. Completion of a 4-year program in business administration, social science, statistics, or related major might also suffice. Community colleges may hire postsecondary teachers with a master's degree; however, a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is usually needed to obtain a 4-year college or university position.

Skills Required

Most consumer studies professionals, including professors, must be able to communicate clearly, both orally and in writing. Analytical and critical-thinking, as well as an attention to detail, are key for market research analysts. Field interviewers need to interact well with others in order to gather data about individual consumer habits.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for market research analysts are expected to increase by 19%, or much faster than average, between 2014 and 2024. During the same 10-year period, postsecondary teachers will see a 13%, or faster-than-average, growth in jobs. As of May 2015, market research analysts earned median annual wages of $62,150, while post-secondary teachers in general earned a median salary of $72,470 (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

Here are some examples of alternative career options:

Home Economics Teachers (Postsecondary)

Home economics teachers at the college or university level provide students with information about family relationships, finance, home management, and nutrition, among other topics. They may also conduct research in the field. Minimum educational requirements for obtaining a position include a master's degree in home economics or a relevant subject area. Nationwide, the BLS reports that employment prospects are expected to decrease by 12% from 2014-2024 for postsecondary home economics teachers. These professionals received median yearly salaries of $64,950 in May 2015 (www.bls.gov).

Survey Researchers

Survey researchers who gather and evaluate information about consumer preferences, employment, opinions, or salary can be employed by any number of organizations, including corporations, government entities, nonprofit associations, or research services. Entry-level opportunities for candidates with a bachelor's degree are limited; most technical researchers need a graduate degree in social science, statistics or marketing. As reported by the BLS, job opportunities for survey researchers nationwide are projected to grow by 12%, or faster than average, from 2014-2024. In May 2015, professionals who were employed as survey researchers earned median annual wages of $53,920 (www.bls.gov).

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