Market researchers collect and analyse data and information to help their clients make informed political, social and economic decisions

As a market researcher, you'll specialise in collecting, analysing and presenting either quantitative or qualitative research.

Most market researchers are employed by marketing agencies, where work is carried out on numerous projects for different companies and industries.

Sometimes market researchers are employed directly by a company (known as client-side), where they collect information on customer opinions, investment and marketing trends.

Types of market research

You'll specialise in either:

  • Quantitative research - which involves working with statistics and percentages and can deliver quick results.
  • Qualitative research - where you'll analyse opinions and can provide the reasons behind certain percentages. This is a longer process and can sometimes take years to complete.


There can be some variation in responsibilities depending on whether you work for an agency or client-side. However, you'll generally need to:

  • meet and liaise with clients to negotiate and agree research projects
  • prepare briefs and commission research
  • formulate plans or proposals to present to your client or senior management
  • write and manage the distribution of surveys and questionnaires
  • brief interviewers and researchers
  • liaise with and manage survey staff
  • moderate focus groups
  • undertake ethnographic research (observing people in their homes and other environments)
  • conduct qualitative or quantitative surveys, which may involve field, interview or focus group assessments
  • use statistical software to manage and organise information
  • monitor the progress of research projects
  • analyse and interpret data to identify patterns and solutions, including surveys and focus group transcripts
  • write detailed reports and present results
  • advise clients or senior management on how to best use research findings
  • manage budgets.


  • Starting salaries for trainee market researchers are in the region of £21,000 to £24,000.
  • With experience, salaries can rise to £25,000 to £35,000.
  • At a senior level, once you've gained significant experience, you can expect to earn from £40,000 to in excess of £70,000.

Salaries vary depending on a range of factors including your location, the type of role (e.g. qualitative or quantitative research), the type of employer (e.g. agency or client-side), your qualifications, experience and responsibilities.

Some larger firms may offer additional benefits, such as a company car, profit-sharing scheme, medical insurance, gym membership and bonuses.

Salary figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Working hours for in-house and quantitative researchers are generally 9am to 5pm, with occasional extra hours required to meet project deadlines. It's common for qualitative researchers to work evenings and weekends so that they have a better chance of contact with their respondents.

Career breaks and secondments may be possible if you're working for larger organisations, particularly if your role is client-side. There may be opportunities for hybrid working.

What to expect

  • You may be desk-based but some market researchers travel nationally, and occasionally internationally, to visit client organisations and to complete their research.
  • Many of the marketing research agencies are located around London and in the South East of England, although there are also hubs in the North (Manchester and Leeds) and Scotland (Edinburgh and Glasgow). Client-side posts are generally available nationwide.
  • Short-term contracts are available via recruitment agencies, although these are generally for more senior market research posts. The Market Research Society (MRS) has a Recruiter Search you can use to reach out to local recruiters.
  • Self-employment or freelance work is sometimes possible for those with significant experience and a good network of contacts.
  • This can be a fast-paced, challenging role due to the tight deadlines, but it can also be varied and rewarding.


Most employers expect candidates to have a degree, and look for skills in communication and analysis. If you want to get into quantitative research, a numerical degree is useful. Relevant subjects include:

  • business or management
  • economics
  • mathematics
  • statistics.

For qualitative research it is helpful to have a degree in a subject such as:

  • anthropology
  • geography
  • psychology
  • social sciences
  • sociology.

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 or science, may be useful. For some posts, an understanding and knowledge of specialist statistical software may give you an edge.

A postgraduate qualification isn't usually needed. However, a Masters or diploma in a statistics-related subject may improve your chances for some types of roles, particularly if your first degree doesn't contain much statistical or research content.

Consider taking The Market Research Society (MRS) Foundation Course in Market Research. This course is aimed at those with limited research experience, such as undergraduate or postgraduate students, and provides a grounding in the principles and practices of market research.

It's also possible to get into the role by taking a Level 4 (HNC level) Market Research Executive Apprenticeship. Apprenticeships combine study with paid work, allowing you to train on the job. You can search for an apprenticeship using Find an apprenticeship.

Some market researchers start out in operations in field agencies, telephone units, quality control or data processing, for example, and then progress into a market researcher role once they have experience. It's also possible to move into market research from other related jobs, such as marketer, advertising planner or data analyst.


You'll need to have:

  • strong verbal, written and presenting communication and interpersonal skills
  • analytical and numerical skills
  • an understanding of different research techniques
  • accuracy and attention to detail
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • excellent organisational skills
  • business and commercial awareness
  • creativity and the ability to tell a story from the data
  • problem-solving skills
  • teamwork and negotiation skills
  • project management skills
  • flexibility and drive
  • IT literacy
  • an interest in psychology and behaviour.

Work experience

Pre-entry experience in areas such as research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques is helpful. You can get relevant work experience through work placements or an internship.

Use the MRS Research Buyers Guide to look for market research agencies near you and approach them about work experience opportunities. You could also contact big client organisations with internal research teams.

Work shadowing a market researcher or doing relevant voluntary work can help build up your knowledge and skills. Experience in related areas such as marketing and advertising planning can also be useful as they often have a research component.

The MRS supports the 10,000 Interns Foundation, which includes the 10,000 Black Interns and 10,000 Able Interns programmes. These programmes provide paid work experience across a wide range of industries, including market research.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.


Most positions are in market research agencies or consultancies. These specialist agencies manage and oversee research projects commissioned by a range of organisations, including businesses, advertising and PR agencies, local and central government, and charities. Agencies range in size from two to several hundred employees, offering specialist or general consultancy.

Opportunities also exist client-side, where market researchers work within industrial and commercial organisations, such as manufacturing, pharmaceutical and retail companies, as well as in advertising agencies and charities. Roles in these settings may involve coordinating and contracting out the research on behalf of the company or assisting in the development of marketing strategies.

Research institutions and government departments also employ market researchers. For more information on working for local authorities or government departments, see government social research officer.

You can get details of market research agencies and consultants, as well as background information on the different sectors, from:

Look for job vacancies at:

Some recruitment agencies specialise in market research vacancies, such as Hasson Associates and Pollen Recruitment. Vacancies for graduates may be advertised as research assistants or as graduate trainees.

Competition for jobs is strong. It may be worth making targeted speculative applications rather than simply relying on advertised vacancies. Consider applying for market research assistant posts first to get into the sector.

Professional development

Once in post, most training is provided informally, on the job, with support from more experienced colleagues. Some larger agencies run graduate training schemes, which typically last two years. There are also a variety of external courses available, specifically designed for market research professionals.

The Market Research Society (MRS) runs training courses and offers qualifications at different levels. While you're in the first two years of your market research career, you can take the MRS Advanced Certificate in Market and Social Research Practice. Some large companies may incorporate this qualification into their graduate training programmes.

The MRS also accredits Masters degrees at Cranfield School of Management (MSc Strategic Marketing), Newcastle University Business School (MSc International Marketing) and the University of East London (MSc Marketing).

Find out more about MRS Training.

Some qualifications offered by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) may be relevant. There is also a range of relevant postgraduate courses available in statistics, marketing or social research. The Social Research Association (SRA) also runs a range of courses on topics such as survey design and quantitative data analysis.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is important and can be carried out in many ways. The MRS, for example, offers training courses covering a range of topics, as well as webinars and online training in questionnaire design and business skills. It offers a range of events and networking opportunities, some specifically designed for new and young researchers through the MRS &more - young researchers network.

With the right combination of skills, experience and training, you can gain Certified Member status (CMRS) of the MRS. As a senior professional who has made a signification contribution to the sector, you may be awarded Fellowship (FMRS).

Career prospects

You'll often start as a junior research executive, before progressing to research executive and then moving into a senior researcher role. There are some opportunities to then move into an account director position. Promotion is based on merit, professional qualifications, experience and specialism.

Responsibility for client contact, presentations, and project and team management increases with seniority, often with a corresponding decrease in the level of field work undertaken.

It's recommended that you gain a range of experience before specialising, to enhance your career development and/or job mobility later in your career.

The rapid growth of international business and developments in information technology has created worldwide opportunities in this field. With experience in your specialist area, you can progress to working as a research practitioner, either independently or in a partnership.

Once you have substantial experience and a good network of contacts, you may want to consider setting up your own consultancy or working as a freelancer.

For more information about how your career in market research could progress, see The Market Research Society - Explore roles in market research.

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