How to Become a Market Research Analyst

Have you ever thought about how retail brands and businesses know exactly what you, as a consumer, want? There’s a whole community of professionals known as market research analysts who work behind the scenes to understand how you and your peers like to shop, what brand messages you respond positively to, and what products you’re likely to enjoy.

Read on to find out more about this dynamic career, learn how to become a market research analyst, and see how an online Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham can help you enter this exciting field.

What is a market research analyst?

A market research analyst is essentially a professional researcher whose insights are highly valued by business leaders. Professionals in this occupation collect data about consumers and competitors to help clients understand their place in the market. They utilize a variety of research methods and analysis tactics to generate summary reports. A market research analyst’s findings may influence everything from branding and product design to pricing, sales strategies, and product promotion.

What does a market research analyst do?

Research is a major responsibility of a market research analyst. These professionals develop methods for collecting data, such as surveys, focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, and opinion polls. Typically, these studies aim to gather consumer demographic data, product- or campaign-related feedback, and buying habits. Analysts often collaborate with colleagues like marketing specialists as well as statisticians, survey researchers, product designers, and business administration professionals to conduct these studies and review the results.

A business leader speaks during a team meeting

Once enough data has been collected, market research analysts utilize data analysis techniques such as statistical software, marketing analytics software, and qualitative analysis. They will then generate reports to help business leaders understand their audience’s perceptions and behavioral tendencies, as well as their brand’s position in the market.

An analyst’s reports may do any of the following:

  • Measure the success of a recent marketing or sales campaign
  • Gather consumer opinions on a new brand message, product, or service
  • Illustrate the competitive landscape by evaluating rival sales, communications, and pricing strategies
  • Identify factors that affect consumer behaviors
  • Capture or forecast industry-related marketing and sales trends
  • Translate complex data into graphic illustrations and written summaries

A market research analyst will present their findings and recommendations to clients. Decision-makers take this data into consideration as they work to devise and implement new strategic marketing and sales initiatives, with the objective of gaining market share and driving profitable growth.

How much does a market research analyst make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for market research analysts was $63,120 in 2018. Additional data from PayScale and Glassdoor suggest that entry-level analysts may see annual earnings of around $40,000 whereas top earners can make more than $80,000 per year.

O*NET considers the marketing research analyst occupation a “Bright Outlook” career. It is expected to see rapid employment growth, with many new opportunities for qualified candidates. The BLS anticipates a 20% growth rate between 2018 and 2028, resulting in nearly 140,000 new market research analyst jobs. This is much faster than the 5% national average growth rate expected across all occupations, making the career a promising choice for emerging professionals with the right education and experience.

What degree do you need to become a market research analyst?

Students who are interested in the market research analyst career can enter the field with a bachelor’s degree. While not always necessary, a graduate degree can also be desirable to some employers. According to O*NET, nearly two-thirds of market research analyst positions require a bachelor’s degree and one-third require a master’s degree.

An undergraduate degree in marketing, such as an online Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the Collat School of Business, can equip students with the skills and industry knowledge necessary for a career in market research. At UAB, core courses such as Marketing Research, Integrated Marketing Communications, and Entrepreneurship and Marketing Planning directly prepare students for the demands of the analyst position. Upper-level courses including Fundamentals of Financial Management, Information Systems, and a Strategic Marketing capstone expand students’ business perspectives and prepare them for the working world.

At the undergraduate level, other possible fields of study include market research, computer science, mathematics, communications, or the social sciences. A bachelor’s degree in business administration is another way to prepare for the field.

Analysts looking to advance their career and earn a master’s degree may pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a degree in market research, marketing, or statistics at the graduate level. Master’s-prepared analysts are often able to take on leadership roles and more complex research projects.

How do you become a market research analyst?

When pursuing jobs in market research analysis, the strongest candidates demonstrate:

  • Analytical skills
  • Communication skills
  • Quantitative and qualitative reasoning abilities
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Computer literacy
  • Management and leadership aptitude

Additionally, market research analysts need strong understandings of the principles of economics, statistics, psychology, and other social sciences to prepare business and consumer insights.

With the right educational background and entry-level work experience, marketing research analysts may wish to pursue a professional certification to demonstrate a commitment to the field. After completing the minimum required hours of industry-specific academic coursework, working in the field for three years, and passing an examination, it’s possible to earn a Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) through the Marketing Research Association. Certified analysts participate in continuing education activities to keep their credentials active and remain up-to-date on industry best practices.

Earn an online marketing degree from UAB

U.S. News & World Report ranks the online programs at UAB’s Collat School of Business among the top 20 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. Through our 100% online degree programs, students have access to a 24/7 technical support team, an award-winning faculty, and unique networking opportunities as they pursue a Bachelor of Science in Marketing.

To learn more about the innovative program and comprehensive curriculum, or to find out more about how to become a market research analyst, visit the program page or connect with an enrollment advisor today.


Recommended Readings:

What is Marketing?

What Does a Marketing Manager Do?



BLS — Market Research Analysts

Glassdoor — Market Research Analyst Salaries

O*NET — Summary Report for Market Research Analysts

Payscale — Average Market Research Analyst Salary — Market Research Analyst Salary in the United States

U.S. News & World Report — Best Online Bachelor’s Programs