If you have an interest in marketing and a love of data, a career as a market research analyst could be a rewarding path. According to the Department of Labor, market research analyst jobs are growing faster than the national average, with 138,300 job openings expected in the next few years.
Market research is a career that allows you to think strategically, engage in thought-provoking research and communicate with clients. You could also be influential in strategic decisions for a variety of companies.
If this all sounds like a way you'd like to spend your workdays, keep reading for tips on how to become a market analyst.
1. Learn more about the field
Across all industries, companies seek the help of a market research analyst when trying to understand demographics, channels and what needs their product will serve.
Companies bring in market research analysts when faced with important decision points; larger companies may have in-house positions in their marketing or product marketing teams.
"There are two sides to market research," explains Karen Munson, president of Mazur Zachow Inc., a market research firm in Brookfield, Wis. "There is the qualitative side and the quantitative side. The qualitative side [includes] focus groups and interviews. The quantitative side includes [things like] surveys."
Market research analysts help companies figure out answers to essential questions, as the company tries to bring a new service or product to market. They find out the answers to questions like:
- Who is the customer for our product?
- How much are people willing to pay for this product?
- What should we name this product?
- Where is our customer located?
Once they have the answer to these questions, the company can refine their marketing efforts. As Munson puts it, market research analysts turn marketing information into actionable solutions for their clients – be they internal or external.
2. Hone in on your skills
"The basic skills that go into this work are math and writing," explains Munson. "You will field surveys and gather data, and that data will come to you in the form of numbers. Having a background in math or statistics will help you to better see what, in all those numbers, is statistically significant."
Market research analysts must be able to meet with the key stakeholders, form questions for surveys, and gather information before there is any data to analyze. That means being able to speak articulately and write clearly.
Critical thinking is also essential. Market research analysts gather large amounts of data to find the answer to a client's question. That involves more than solving a math problem, memorizing data sets or executing orders. It requires the ability to see detail, because you will often do granular data analysis, without getting lost in the details. It demands that you can pull conclusions from those details.
A sometimes overlooked skill needed by marketing researchers is creativity. Once the data is gathered, an open and creative approach is needed to analyze it and create insights. Crafting strong questionnaires for surveys and interview guides also needs a thoughtful approach to ensure the information you gather will help answer the questions you're charged with answering.
When writing your resume, be sure to note relevant skills and experience – you'll pick out the skills and experience in the market research analyst job description. These could include:
- Analyzing data
- Creating surveys
- Communicating, both verbally and in writing
- Calculating statistics
- Writing reports and presentations
- Highlighting any relevant marketing background or experience
3. Highlight your education and experience
Market research analysts come from a variety of educational backgrounds. You won't find specific market research analyst education requirements, but those who work in a quantitative research capacity need a strong background in statistics, mathematics and other analytical disciplines. Those who pursue qualitative research might spend more of their time with focus groups and interviews, which makes communication skills essential.
"Take those English classes," Munson recommends. "Doing research is one thing, but your job is to sort out mounds of data and interpret it so the client can understand it."
You don't need an advanced degree to get an entry-level market research analyst job, but an MBA might help advance your career in the long run. About 25% of the people who work in market research hold a master's degree.
As with most fields, completing an internship in marketing or marketing research is a great way to make connections and learn skills that will help you stand out from the pack of other job seekers. When writing your resume, think about relevant work experience that could help you in your role as a market research analyst.
Jobs that put you face-to-face with clients or customers (like retail or sales) are helpful to mention on your resume. The same is true for any job that required you to analyze data or conduct research. If you worked summers in a lab on campus, that's applicable.
4. Make those connections
Every job seeker should have a profile on LinkedIn. Not only will it help you solidify your professional connections, but it will also allow you to see if you know anyone at the companies where you're applying. You can connect with college friends, alumni and professors to expand your network's scope and reach.
Getting involved with some of the marketing associations that are relevant to market research can offer terrific educational and mentoring opportunities. Here are two networking organizations to consider:
- The American Marketing Association offers certifications, classes and a job board where you can find internships and entry-level jobs that will help you get started in your career. You can read up on the current trends in marketing, find someone willing to mentor you and get a better sense of the industry.
- The Qualitative Research Consultants Association is a place to immerse yourself in the qualitative aspect of market research. You can attend local meetings, take webinars on relevant topics and subscribe to newsletters about the industry that will get you quickly up to speed.
5. Edit your cover letter and resume
A well-written cover letter and resume are critical when applying to market research analyst roles. It's a profession where excellent communication skills are highly valued. (Learn how to write a cover letter and how to write a resume via LiveCareer.)
"Being well rounded and able to communicate verbally is very important," says Munson. "You will spend a lot of time sitting at a computer, but that all leads to communicating what you learned to the client. They want to know the results of your research, and how that translates into something they can act on. They aren't interested in statistics and trends you found. Your job is to answer their question."
You'll want to customize your resume and cover letter for each role, calling out specific results and experiences. Select relevant examples from internships, class projects, volunteer work, jobs, and activities that align with the roles and responsibilities of the position.
Using relevant phrases and terms in your resume exactly as they appear in the job description will help you to get through any screening software your potential employer uses to help filter for those most qualified for the role.
Once you find the perfect market research job analyst job, you need to be ready to apply. Our Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder make it easy to create application materials that will get you in the door.