Market research is a great career for those looking to thrive in a role that rewards analytical thinking, problem-solving and collaboration. Once you’ve become equipped with the right skills, it’s important to always improve your knowledge base and expertise to stay relevant.
Most employers expect candidates to have a degree and look for skills in communication and analysis. If you want to get into quantitative research, the following subjects are useful: business or management, economics, mathematics or statistics.
For qualitative research, it is helpful to have a degree in a subject such as anthropology, geography, psychology, social sciences or sociology. However, degrees in marketing, English and languages are also useful but a variety of degrees are often accepted by employers.
For specialist industrial market research posts, a degree in a specific subject linked to the industry, such as engineering, pharmaceutical, medical or science, may be useful. For some posts, an understanding and knowledge of specialist statistical software may give you an edge.
Postgraduate qualifications are welcomed but not always essential although for some types of roles a master's or diploma in a statistics-related subject may improve your chances of finding employment. Skills in SPSS, Python and R are useful for quant researchers and analysts and there are many courses covering these topics too.
Most additional training is provided informally or on the job, with support from more experienced colleagues. Some larger agencies run graduate training schemes, which typically last two years. Various external courses are also available, specifically designed for market research professionals.
The MRS runs training courses and offers qualifications at different levels such as the MRS Advanced Certificate in Market and Social Research Practice. Some agencies may incorporate this qualification into their graduate training programmes as part of ongoing development packages.
For more experienced market researchers who are progressing to senior roles, there is the MRS Diploma in Market and Social Research Practice. To take this you need to have between one to three years of experience in a relevant role depending on whether you already hold the MRS Advanced Certificate or another professional qualification or degree. The MRS also offers accredited Master's degrees at Cranfield School of Management and Newcastle University Business School.
Many of the qualifications offered by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) include a market research component. There is also a range of relevant postgraduate courses available in statistics, marketing or social research.
The Social Research Association (SRA) runs a range of courses on topics such as survey design and quantitative data analysis.