Becoming a market research analyst – is this the job for you?

Market research analysts are the men and women who help businesses figure out what consumers like, and what they want. The term 'taste maker' is often bandied about in reference to people who help define and popularize trends and preferences. It's the research analysts job to identify these factors – and then to help their employer turn those identifications into new, exciting products. 

Speaking to the U.S. & World News Report, Ken Roberts, a president of a market research company in San Francisco, testifies that the job requires a number of contradictory skills. You need to be a 'people person,' but you also have to be stringently analytical, and dedicated to hard statistics. You need to understand incredibly intricate studies, but you also need to be able to break them down so you can explain them to workers who aren't analysts themselves. And, perhaps most of all, you need to be clued into trends and the popular culture without ever developing a bias or an inability to read the numbers without involving your own thoughts. It's a tough job, and few are cut out for it – but if you're as good with numbers as you are hanging out with your friends, market research analyst could be the position you've been searching for. 

You'll need at least a bachelor's degree to get your foot in this door, though your choice of study can be malleable: degrees in statistics, computer science, and other tracks will help you secure a position. All the standard fields of study that could land you a career in finance will help you secure a position as a market research analyst. But Roberts, speaking to the news source, noted that your training could go far beyond a college degree: after being hired as a market research analyst, you could potentially spend years handling data collection and entry, before your employers will trust you enough to saddle you with actual analysis work. 

And, as always, an internship at a recognized firm will do wonders toward earning you interviews and, eventually, employment. 

Consumers all have their own preferences within certain fields – Apple or Android, car or truck, Kanye West or Jay-Z. As a research analyst, it's your job to figure out why. By crunching the numbers and conducting studies, you'll help your employer to figure out what the public currently wants – and what they'll want in the future.

It will be for different purposes: to help solidify marketing efforts, to measure proper levels of production, or even to help form company policies. And your range of study may shift between local, national, and worldwide data. But your overall mission will remain the same: to figure out what people like, and, using that information, to figure out what they're going to like next. 

Research analysts do quite well financially, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that the median pay in the field during 2010 logged in at over $60,000. The top 10 percent of earners break well into the six figures, as well: the median pay for that subsection was recorded at over $110,000. However, you'll be working hard to earn that money: reports state that many analysts work long hours, beyond the normal business day, to make their deadlines. 

But the outlook for those working this position is very good: employment in the field is expected to grow by over 40 percent over the 2010's, much faster than the national average. So, if you've got your finger on the nation's purchasing pulse, then market research analyst could be the job for you – and now is definitely the time to get yourself started.