How to Become a Survey Researcher

Surveys are essential to the success and evaluation of many companies and organizations. Survey researchers are trained professionals that design methods to gather a variety of public opinions of many different topics.

What does a survey researcher do?

Survey researchers focus on developing and conducting surveys to obtain information about people and what they think. They gather information to assist in a variety of tasks such as policy decisions, improvement of customer satisfaction, and measuring the effectiveness of programs. They may carry out research to determine the attitudes of the public on various topics. Survey researchers use many different mediums in conducting surveys such as questionnaires sent through the mail, telephone interviews, and surveys sent via Internet. They design surveys in a variety of formats depending on the topic, research, and collection method. Survey researchers often work for many different clients such as large companies, political candidates, and government organizations.

What kind of training does a survey researcher need?

Survey researchers must have at least a bachelor degree, but many employers prefer candidates with graduate degrees. Survey researchers typically complete courses in marketing, consumer behavior, business, sampling theory and survey design, psychology, statistics, and economics. Many aspiring survey researchers complete internships while completing their education to gain practical experience in the field. Many survey researchers obtain professional certification to remain competitive in the field. The Marketing Research Association offers certification programs such as the Professional Researcher Certification. Certified survey researchers must complete continuing education to maintain their certifications. All survey researchers must stay up to date with advancements in the field and keep their skills current. They often participate in additional training seminars and conferences throughout their careers.

What are the prospects for a career as a survey researcher?

Employment of survey researchers is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 30% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The increase use of public opinion research and the growing demand for market and opinion research will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be very good especially for survey researchers with advanced education and extensive experience. The best job opportunities will stem from the growth in the public opinion polling and market research industries.

How much do survey researchers make?

As of January 2010, the average annual salary for market researchers is $64,000; average annual survey researcher salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a survey researcher is a great choice for people with a strong interest in developing and conducting a variety of surveys. Survey researchers must have a solid understanding of various survey techniques and ability to apply them to a variety of situations. Strong quantitative skills, detail orientation, persistence, patience, and good problem solving are necessary characteristics. Survey researchers must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. They must able be able to effectively work independently as well as part of a team.

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