If you have great analytical skills and enjoy the challenges of research and working with numbers, the career of market research analyst might be an excellent choice for you. Market research is related to, but not precisely the same as, marketing specialist and manager roles. A wide range of different undergraduate degree programs can prepare you for this rapidly-growing business career path.
The Difference Between Market Research and Marketing
Market research plays an important role in marketing, but this job is probably not what you think of when you envision marketing campaigns or agencies. Market research refers to the analysis of data that helps companies make decisions about sales of products or services, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This analysis includes everything from deciding what products or services a company should offer to what price to charge for them.
Market research plays an important behind-the-scenes role in marketing, or the creation, expression and dispersing of promotional information used to advertise and sell products. Market research analysts are the ones who determine the audience for marketing campaigns by figuring out which interest group, demographic or persona best represents the people most likely to buy the product. Creative marketing professionals develop campaigns tailored to that audience and advertising sales professionals place those marketing materials in media channels that get them noticed. Finally, market research analysts also determine how effective a marketing campaign or strategy has been to help a company identify its return on its investment into the marketing campaign, the BLS reported.
“Analyst” is the key word in understanding a marketing research analyst’s role. Unlike the advertising and marketing workers who develop the ideas, art and text behind an ad, a marketing research analyst serves in a much less creative capacity.
Though not a creative role, market research analysts need the skills to clearly communicate the findings of their research and analysis in written and visual formats to share with company leaders and marketing and advertising professionals, the BLS reported.
Careers in Market Research
While market research analyst roles may be less in the limelight than other marketing jobs, they’re certainly plentiful. Already 595,400 Americans hold this job title. The BLS is predicting jobs in this field to grow at a rapid rate of 23 percent, or 138,300 new job opportunities, within 10 years.
Market research analysts work in many different fields. The industry of management, scientific and technical consulting services is the largest employer for this career, accounting for 12 percent of jobs in the occupation. Finance and insurance roles account for another 10 percent, while the wholesale trade industry makes up 9 percent of the market research analyst job force and the management of companies and enterprises industry makes up 8 percent. Excluding Internet publishing, the publishing industries account for three percent of jobs in this field, yet offers the highest wages, the BLS reported.
As a whole, market research analysts earn a median wage of $63,230. The publishing industry pays the most, with a $73,070 median wage. The median wages are $72,680 in the management of companies and enterprises industry and $71,190 in finance and insurance.
Degree Options for Aspiring Market Research Analysts
Earning a bachelor’s degree is a necessity if you want to become a market research analyst. An undergraduate degree in market research or a similar field is preferable, according to the BLS, but specialized programs in market research are often difficult to find. A more general degree program in marketing may offer a formal concentration or sequence of courses in market research, while others simply include classes in market research principles and applications in the standard major curriculum.
Fortunately, aspiring market research analysts can also approach this career from many other fields of study. Mathematics, statistics, computer science, communications, business administration and even social science degrees are all acceptable educational backgrounds for this occupation, according to the BLS. Cultivating research, math and analytical skills and taking classes in marketing, statistics, economics and consumer behavior are more important factors than the precise name of your program of study, the BLS reported.
Some employers look for market research analysts to have a graduate degree. Master’s degrees in market research are popular choices, but market research analysts may also go back to school for math, statistics or a Master of Business Administration (MBA).