Today, market research executives enter one of the most intellectually challenging and rewarding fields of professional occupation. Market research executives collect, filter, systematise, and analyse data for business corporations and public corporations. This data is then used in decision-making or understanding behavioural patterns of the population in general, or of a certain consumer group. While interpretation is usually done by these receiving bodies, occasionally, research executive can be asked for some guidance.
Competition in this particular job market is intense. To stand a chance of getting noticed by employers, you need to be good at statistics and math, have 'people' skills and be a good communicator. On top of this, you should have excellent creative problem-solving skills, be accurate and attentive to details, be able to work under pressure and to tight deadlines.
The exact set of your duties will depend on the type of the research you do and the organisation you work with. Usually, you work will consist of desk research, meeting with people, conducting interviews and focus groups, designing surveys and questionnaires, analysing data and presenting conclusions to the client, and advising on the application of the results of the research.
You need to have a BTEC HND or degree level diploma to qualify for the job of a market research executive. Those who plan to specialise in quantitative research should consider taking courses in statistics, math, economics or business and management. Psychology, sociology, anthropology or social sciences are useful for those who will focus on qualitative research.
Large research firms offer graduate trainee schemes which are a good starting point for people with degrees in some general field, such as media and communications, or science and engineering, who plan to embark on a career of a market researcher. A successful completion of these schemes will almost surely guarantee you promotion to at least a role of a research assistant from where you can then progress to more senior roles.
Besides formal education, you may need to have prior experience of a research interviewer or sales agent to be considered for an entry-level job in market research.
Your employer will organise on-site trainings for you and can even send you on external courses to ensure you are aware of the current best practices and standards of research. Continued training may make you eligible for qualifications from the Market Research Society (MRS), such as:
Advanced Certificate in Market and Social Research Practice (for researchers at the beginning of their careers)
Diploma in Market and Social Research Practice (for experienced researchers)
You can study towards both qualifications part-time or through distance learning either at a university or at one of the many designated training centres across the country.
If your employer is accredited under the MRS Professional Development Scheme (PDS), you can join the three-year in-house training programme that will lead you to achieving the Advanced Certificate, the Diploma and full membership of the MRS.
Those who plan to specialise on qualitative research should consider taking the Association for Qualitative Research (AQR) foundation course.
Pay and Work
As a market researcher, you can make between £19,000 and £23,000 a year. With experience, your salary can grow to up to £50,000 a year. You should expect to work standard office hours, Monday to Friday. Some overtime may be needed when there is a project deadline to meet. The work is mainly office-based, with occasional trips to see clients or conduct interviews.
The list of potential employers includes market research agencies and consultancies, advertising agencies, or social research bodies. A number of opportunities are also available at large companies and public organisations which have their own research departments.
For job vacancies and some useful reading about market research, visit: