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There are many job opportunities within the survey research industry in full-service research companies, affiliated service companies, which offer specialized services needed to complete a survey, such as data collection, questionnaire development and analysis, as well as at large corporations that support their own research departments.

Tip: While in college, gain experience gathering and analyzing data, conducting interviews or surveys, and writing reports on their findings. This experience will be a big plus when competing for a full-time position in the field.

Following are some sample job descriptions:

Market research analysts design and conduct surveys for a variety of clients, such as corporations, government agencies, political candidates, and providers of various services. The surveys collect information that is used for performing research, making fiscal or policy decisions, measuring the effectiveness of those decisions, or improving customer satisfaction. Analysts may conduct opinion research to determine public attitudes on various issues; the research results may help political or business leaders and others assess public support for their electoral prospects or social policies. Like market research analysts, survey researchers may use a variety of mediums to conduct surveys, such as the Internet, personal or telephone interviews, or questionnaires sent through the mail. They also may supervise interviewers who conduct surveys in person or over the telephone.

Statisticians employ statistical techniques, sampling methods, and may use statistical software programs such as SPSS, SAS, or R-Language. A master’s degree and sometimes a Ph.D. is required.

Tabulation Programmers create cross-tabulations of survey data using tabulation software such as Quantum or UNCLE. Tabulation programmers often are involved in data cleaning and data management functions, and may need knowledge of database systems. Typically, a bachelor’s degree is required.

Junior Analysts work on editing and coding questionnaires, basic statistical analysis, secondary data searches, and write rough draft reports on simple projects.

Project Directors manage the flow of research projects, work out schedules, perform quality assurance checks, provide information and directions to sub-contractors and operations. Sometimes, the project director is also involved in questionnaire design, developing a tabulation plan, and report preparation.

Account Executives are responsible for making sales to client firms and keeping client organizations satisfied. An account executive works on a day-to-day basis with clients and serves as liaison between the client and the research organization. Account managers must understand each client’s problems and know what research techniques should be employed to provide the right data. He or she must be able to explain to the client what research techniques are needed in a non-technical manner. Moreover, the account executive must be able to sell the firm’s services and abilities over competing suppliers. Account executives work hand in hand with the research analysts to develop the research methodology to solve the client’s problems. This position often requires an MBA or other master’s degree.

Field Work Director — Most survey research firms do not have their own interviewers. Instead, they rely on market research field service providers throughout the United States to conduct the actual interviews. Field services are the production line of the market research industry. They hire, train, and supervise interviewers within a specific geographic area. A field work director is responsible for obtaining completed interviews in the proper geographic area, using the specified sampling instructions, within a specified budget and on time. Field work directors keep in close touch with field services throughout the United States or other countries.

Research Director — The research director (sometimes vice-president of research or even senior vice president) is responsible for the entire research program of the company. The director may conduct strategic research for top management or accept work from new product managers, brand managers, or other internal clients. He or she has full responsibility for the market research budget. The director hires the professional staff and exercises general supervision of the research department. He or she normally presents the findings of strategic research projects to top management. This position often requires a masters degree and, in some companies, a Ph.D. The director often is viewed as the top technical expert in the department.

Senior Executive (Vice President) – Typically, this executive is overseeing several departments or teams of account executives, and has business development responsibilities in addition to managerial responsibilities. These executives are responsible for the hiring, training and development of account executives, analysts, and project directors, and spend much of their time in high-level meetings with major clients.

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