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Career Definition of a Market Researcher
Market research professionals design and administer tests and surveys intended to predict what types of products and services will appeal to consumers. They typically work for consulting firms that are hired by private companies, such as car manufacturers, movie studios, and food and beverage companies to test consumer reaction to products already on the market or still in development.
Consumers generally participate in focus groups organized by market research professionals and arranged by demographic classification, including age, gender, buying habits or occupation. Focus groups may also consist of consumers who have recently purchased a certain product. Market research professionals screen participants, demonstrate products, lead group discussions, administer tests, analyze results, and report findings to their clients.
|Education||Bachelor's degree in marketing or business administration. Master's or doctoral degrees may advance career.|
|Job Skills||Analytical, math, writing, computer, and public speaking abilities|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$62,150 (for all market research analysts and marketing specialists)|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)*||19% increase (for all market research analysts)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Most entry-level market research professions, such as market or survey researcher, require a bachelor's degree in marketing or business administration with coursework in marketing, psychology, social sciences, mathematics, and statistics. A master's or doctoral degree may be required for career advancement to managerial or academic positions. Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) offered through the Marketing Research Association (MRA) may also enhance career opportunities (www.mra-net.org).
In addition to strong analytical and math skills, market research professionals must be effective communicators who interact well with groups of people. In addition to strong writing and public speaking skills, they must have exceptional quantitative skills and the ability to gather and interpret statistics. Computer skills, including word processing, data entry, and Internet research skills, are essential. Multiple language skills may also be a plus in specific markets.
Salary Information and Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts much faster-than-average job growth of 19% for market research analysts from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Opportunities should be strongest for market research professionals with strong data analysis and statistical skills, as well as advanced degrees. In May 2015, the BLS reported a median annual wage for market research analysts and marketing specialists of $62,150.
Alternate Career Options
Similar options in this career field include:
An advertising manager oversees the creation of media campaigns designed to stir interest and action with regard to a company's products or services. They may work for the company they're developing ad campaigns for, or they may work for an ad agency and develop campaigns for clients. A minimum of a bachelor's degree in advertising or a related field and work experience is typically required for an advertising manager job. The BLS predicts that the number of jobs for advertising managers will grow 9% from 2014-2024; the median salary among advertising, marketing, and promotions managers was $124,850 in 2015.
Public Relations Specialist
A public relations (PR) specialist carries out activities designed to increase awareness or improve and maintain a company's reputation with customers or the public in general. A PR specialist writes press releases and speeches; he or she also answers media inquiries. PR specialists help clients clarify their identity and develop a strategy for promoting that identity as well. The minimum education requirement for PR specialists is typically a bachelor's degree in public relations or a related field. PR specialists can expect employment growth of 6% from 2014-2024, per the BLS; this occupation paid a median salary of $56,770 in 2015.