How to Become a Market Research Analyst: Job Description & Salary

If you enjoy studying people’s behaviors and have a penchant for numbers, a market research analyst might be the job for you. Market research analysts play a role in helping clients learn about their consumers, specifically their wants, preferences, needs and willingness to pay for them. When considering how to become a market research analyst, it’s important to keep up with industry trends, sales trends, consumer opinions and buying habits in order to gauge consumer behavior. Market research analysts are looking for why certain people buy the products they do by collecting and analyzing data.

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Here are five steps to consider for becoming a market research analyst:

Step 1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Market Research of Related Field
Step 2. Opt into More Essential Courses in Market Research
Step 3. Consider Internship Opportunities
Step 4. Practice Research Skills and Pursue Certifications
Step 5. Consider an Advanced Degree in a Related Field

Steps to Become a Market Research Analyst

If you’re wondering how to become a market research analyst, there are common steps you can take in your educational pathway to achieve this. Strong analytical skills are important in this career field.

Step 1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Market Research

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that most market research analyst positions require a bachelor’s degree in market research, business or communications. Roughly 57% of market research analysts hold a bachelor’s degree, according to O*NET OnLine.

Students who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree can choose their major in market research or a related business, communications, statistics, or a social science field. Others have a background in business administration or social science, such as psychology or sociology. Bachelor’s degrees can also provide systematic knowledge that is fundamental to the field.

Step 2. Opt into More Essential Courses in Market Research

While pursuing the bachelor’s degree, prospective market research analysts can opt in more essential courses if they are not part of core courses required. Courses such asg market research, economics, business administration, marketing, research methods and statistics are important to market research analysts because it equips them with the analytical and technical skills to be able to process different types of data to gauge consumer behaviors. You can also take courses in social sciences, such as psychology or sociology, in order to better understand human thinking and behavior.

Step 3. Consider Internship Opportunities

College internships are a common way to enter the workforce in a field where college alone may not prepare a student for every skill needed for a certain position. Internships may help students to combine their college-taught skills with specific job-based skills and develop a strong aptitude as a market research analyst even before graduation. Sometimes, strong internship candidates are offered full-time positions with employers upon graduation.

Step 4. Practice Research Skills and Pursue Certifications

There are specific skills you can learn to better prepare for a market research analyst position, such as research skills and data analysis. While not mandatory, you can pursue certifications in market research, such as the Insights Professional Certification (IPC). This certification focuses on ethics, latest techniques and technologies, and measurement of knowledge and expertise in market research. You can earn it by taking and passing the exam; the certification must be renewed every two years. Aside from the exam, you must have at least three years’ experience working in market research and complete 12 hours of industry-related courses.

To gain more experience in data analytics, you can also complete a bootcamp in data analytics. Additionally, online bootcamps in digital marketing and UX/UI bootcamps also cover market research.

Step 5. Consider an Advanced Degree in Related Field

Although a higher degree is not required, approximately 39% of market research analysts hold a master’s degree. Advanced degrees may be required for a leadership role. Master’s degrees can help specialize your niche within market research depending on what you chose. Having a higher education degree such as a master’s in business analytics can help sharpen your proficiency in market research because it can aid data-driven decisions. Students can consider pursuing a degree virtually as well by obtaining an online master’s in business analytics. Pursuing a higher degree bridges the gap between big data, statistical methods and predictive tools and the corporate world, economy and financial markets.

What Does a Market Research Analyst Do?

The responsibilities of a market research analyst include preparing reports of findings in an easy-to-understand format, collecting and analyzing data on consumer demographics and identifying areas that affect product demand, reports O*NET. Market research analysts also help develop marketing strategies and find new ways to study the market through surveys or opinion polls.

The daily job duties of a market research analyst could vary greatly depending on the job scope and title. The general job description of market research analysts, according to the BLS, would include studying markets in an effort to provide business direction to increase sales of a product or service. What that actually means, though, is that an analyst may sift through large datasets to find trends.

They may create surveys, distribute them and analyze their data. They may research past sales and marketing metrics of their company or competitor companies in hopes of finding useful data to present to clients and managers.

The research process may take part in a small, very focused area of research that may go through the entire process in a few hours or a day, or it may be a longitudinal process that takes months; it depends on the scope.

Regardless of how an analyst goes about their day, they help contribute valuable information to various business departments that may lead to major organizational decisions.

Important Skills for Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts possess both hard and soft skills, some of which include:

  • Analytical skills in collecting and analyzing information extracted from data. This may require statistical skills and high-level math.
  • Critical thinking in being able to define a problem and develop a research plan that helps guide decision making based on collected/analyzed data.
  • Communication skills in presenting findings from the data and making informed decisions. It’s important to clearly present data findings to clients in writing, visually or orally.
  • Detail-oriented in finding solutions and understanding human behavior, since most of the daily work of a market research analyst is very detail-specific.

Market Research vs. Marketing Research

Is there really much of a difference in market research vs. marketing research? Yes. In the simplest of explanations, market research is much more narrow in scope and is even considered a component of marketing research. Market research focuses primarily on where and when the audience will access the product or service.

For example, a clothing company wants to run internet ads for their new sweater. A manager asks someone to research if the company should spend their money targeting iPhone users, Android users or a combination of both. That person may look at sales figures for similar products, build a questionnaire for past customers to see if they use iPhones or Android phones and examine how they shop online. After research is conducted, a decision is made as to which would render a better return on investment, or ROI.

This is an example of a very specific situation where market research was conducted.

Marketing research, however, is very broad. Marketing research includes all of the four Ps of marketing—product, price, place and promotion—and it includes every component of market research as well. Marketing research encompasses large chunks of data covering customers, advertising, products, sales, trends and distribution of entire industries, as well as trends in other industries to decide if any of those could be relatable elsewhere.

As an example: Someone performing marketing research for a clothing company may research clothing sales, distribution channels, price points of sales, demographics, trends in the clothing industry as well as other industries and more. They will then take that data and send it to clients and managers who may make decisions for any number of areas of business.

In short, market research focuses on the “market” part of the term—researching a specific market or component of a market. Marketing research focuses on the “research” part of the term—researching every possible area and extrapolating that data to find areas of improvement, even if they may seem unrelated at first glance.

If you are interested in becoming a marketing analyst, then explore our guide.

Market Research Analyst Salary and Job Outlook

With the internet, social media, phone and computer applications becoming more prevalent throughout our daily lives, more and more data is being shared and collected. As a result, companies may want to know more about customers by way of their digital footprint. Companies may use digital information about consumers in order to better serve their customers’ needs, especially as more and more commerce is handled online rather than in person. Because of this, the job outlook and salary for market research analysts are expected to continue to rise, according to the BLS. Employment of market research analysts is projected to grow 22 percent from 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This includes about 96,000 job openings per year for market research analysts during that time period.

Per the BLS, here is a summary of projected job growth and salary as of January 2022:

Number of jobs (2020): 740,900

Expected Growth (2020-2030): 22%

Median Annual Wage (2021): $63,920

Median Hourly Wage (2020): $30.73

FAQs About Market Research Analysts

When deciding whether or not a market research analyst career is right for you, it’s important to consider how far you can advance in the field, key terminology and the day-to-day tasks.

How can I become a good market research analyst?

Market research analysts require strong analytical, critical thinking and communication skills in order to grow in the role. These skills can help market research analysts to better assess and measure consumer buying behavior, as well as conveying those insights to a client or manager. It’s important to gain relevant coursework or experience in business, statistics, math and marketing.

Is a market research analyst the same as a marketing analyst?

No, a market research analyst is not the same as a marketing analyst. Market research analysts focus on researching a specific market or industry, while marketing analysts emphasize finding areas of improvement. A market research analyst looks at industry trends and decides how they can be relatable in other markets or areas.

Is market research analyst a good job?

Market research analysts benefit from their quantitative sides that research and analyze numbers and data as well as their qualitative aspects such as being attuned to human emotion. Both aid market research analyst decision making, and can make a difference in how to better understand consumer behavior. Market research analysts also have a higher than average projected job growth, creating more future opportunities.

What is it like being a market research analyst?

Market research analysts measure the effectiveness of marketing and track industry trends and statistics to measure customer and employee satisfaction. They typically use customer relationship management software, business intelligence and data analysis software as well as analytical software in their daily operations. Their tasks may vary in scope, ranging from long-term projects to a variety of short-term projects.

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license. O*NET® is a trademark of USDOL/ETA.

Last updated April 2022