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Education and Training: Bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees may be required depending on the industry
Average Salary: $30,621-$118,631 per year
Job Outlook: Good

A researcher job can exist in nearly every field depending on the industry. Market, operations, clinical, scientific, academic, and social researcher jobs are all available and require employees with specific expertise, experience and educational qualifications. Across the spectrum, researchers assist senior researchers by analyzing data and providing input. A researcher compiles reports based on data analysis and is expected to raise questions and offer tips based on the subject matter being studied.

Researchers are expected to work well alone and be self-motivated. Team involvement is necessary when compiling data and the researcher must be equipped with solid communication and interpersonal skills.

Education and Training Requirements

Depending on the field and industry, education and training requirements may vary. For clinical and medical researchers a master’s degree or doctoral degree is required, while an academic researcher position requires a bachelor’s degree. On-the-job training with an experienced researcher is required and necessary to be successful in the career field. Some fields require a Ph.D. for the entry level researcher positions, especially in medicine and engineering. The research industry relies heavily on employees with post secondary education.

In high school and college, students may prepare themselves for a career in research by taking extensive mathematics and statistics courses. Science courses are also excellent to be exposed to data collection, computer analysis and statistical research.

Getting the Job

College placement offices offer job openings for researchers in all fields. Potential candidates should look for job opportunities listed in newspapers, professional publications, job boards, and company websites. State and government agencies often list job opportunities for researchers and provide staff who can guide prospective workers through the application process. Most candidates will undergo a typical interview process that may result in one to three interviews.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

According to current data supplied by the United States Department of Labor, job growth for researchers is expected to rise steadily in relation to the overall job growth rate. Some of the most promising fields for researchers include recycling facilities, engineering firms, pharmaceutical R&D, and academic institutions. Competition for jobs is steadily increasing but enough jobs are available to lessen the impact.

Working Conditions and Environment

The bulk of a researcher’s time is spent in the laboratory, library or office pouring over data. Most have private offices that allow for a quiet space to analyze and computer data. Most researchers work 40 hours per week but many opt to work longer and more extensive hours in order to complete the job. On occasion and depending on the type of researcher job, interviews with people may be a part of the research study. Interviews are typically taken in the office but may require the researcher to be out in the field.

Salary and Benefits

The salary range varies greatly due to the broad job classification that crosses several economic sectors. The median salary for researcher positions ranges from $30,621-$118,631 per year.

Benefits for a researcher generally include paid time off, holiday pay, health or medical insurance, and pension plans. A 401 (k) is the typical retirement plan offered for a researcher position. Most benefit packages vary depending on what is offered by the organization or business. Full-time researchers are eligible for full benefits packages.

Where to Go for More Information

Association of Clinical Research Organizations
915 15th St. NW, Second Fl.
Washington, DC 20005

Marketing Research Association
110 National Dr., 2nd Fl.
Glastonbury, CT 06033

RAND Corporation
1776 Main St.
Santa Monica, CA 90401-3208

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesEngineering, Science, Technology, and Social Sciences