Research Analyst Job Description
Research analysts use data analysis and interpretation to help guide decision-making in a variety of industries. They may work with marketing, sales, and personnel departments to develop pricing models, or conduct research on an organization’s operations to identify areas for improvement and efficiency enhancement.
Research analysts use statistical, economic, and data modeling techniques and tools to provide insights and support intelligent business or organizational decision-making. Because they provide direct guidance to leaders, research analysts need to balance careful assessment with effective communication to present their findings and recommendations.
Research Analyst Duties and Responsibilities
Although research analysts can work in a number of fields, most share several core responsibilities:
Analyze Internal Processes
One of the central duties of a research analyst, particularly in corporate and organizational settings, is analyzing internal processes to identify areas for improvement. This can encompass a number of different tasks such as analyzing operations, expenditures, and client retention to identifying patterns that indicate potential issues or areas where processes can be improved or modified.
Gather and Interpret Data
Research analysts gather data from a wide variety of sources and use statistical methodologies to interpret this information. Research analysts may use a number of different techniques to collect data, including interviews and direct analysis of processes and procedures. Research analysts collect large quantities of data to support their analyses and identify patterns or trends that help them to understand organizational issues and operations.
Develop Data Models
In any industry, research analysts also use data modeling software to develop complex data models for use by organizational decision-makers. These models may consider a number of different factors and possibilities and present a variety of possibilities based on different inputs. Research analysts may need to periodically adjust these models based on new or emerging data, which can skew results and provide further insight.
Most research analysts also prepare reports and presentations for management and other decision-makers. While the exact content and nature of these reports depends largely upon the field in which the research analyst works, they will generally contain a summary of the analyst’s findings and interpretation of their data. Research analysts also present data models to illustrate the impact of this data on operations and performance, and draw conclusions about potential issues and opportunities.
Provide Recommendations to Management
Finally, research analysts may work closely with executive leadership and management personnel to provide recommendations and guidance. Within some organizations, research analysts play more of a consulting role, using data analysis and modeling to directly guide the organization’s activities and ensure sound decision-making. Additionally, management may request that research analysts gather data related to a particular issue.
Research Analyst Skills and Qualifications
Research analysts conduct rigorous data analysis to support decision-making in a wide variety of corporate, academic, and institutional settings. Most workers in this role have at least a bachelor’s degree and the following skills:
- Analytical skills – research analysts should have excellent data assessment skills and need to be able to use advanced data analysis tools and techniques to conduct research
- Mathematical skills – this role also requires excellent mathematical skills, since research analysts derive insights from multiple data sources to develop models and provide advice to decision-makers
- Data modeling skills – research analysts use a variety of data modeling techniques, and should be able to prepare reports and presentations that present useful and actionable data
- Team collaboration – research analysts work across teams to support organizational activities and operations, so they should be strong collaborators and coordinators
- Problem-solving skills – research analysts also need effective problem-solving skills in order to devise and enact solutions to companies’ and organizations’ problems or potential issues
- Communication skills – effective written and verbal communication are both central to this role, since research analysts need to prepare reports and deliver presentations to decision-makers
Tools of the Trade
Research analysts tend to work in office settings and should be familiar with standard office equipment and software in addition to the following:
- Business Intelligence software (Tableau, Cognos)
- Data modeling software (MATLAB)
Research Analyst Education and Training
Research analysts can find employment after successfully completing a bachelor’s degree, although most companies tend to prefer candidates with advanced degrees. Because research analysts can work in a number of fields, specific areas of study can vary. Fields such as economics, mathematics, and statistics are particularly valuable, as is some familiarity with data modeling and analysis tools. There are many opportunities for on-the-job training in this role as well as research analysts improve their methodologies and learn advanced techniques.
Research Analyst Salary and Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) separates research analysts into several different categories. According to the BLS, market research analysts earned a median annual salary of $63,230 as of May 2017, with the highest-paid 10 percent earning more than $122,770 per year and the lowest-paid 10 percent earning less than $34,510 per year. Operations research analysts earned a median annual salary of $81,390, with the highest-paid 10 percent earning more than $134,470 and the lowest-paid 10 percent earning less than $45,270.
The BLS expects employment in both of these fields to grow at a faster-than-average rate (23 percent for market research analysts and 27 percent for operations research analysts) between 2016 and 2026.
We searched the web and found several helpful resources if you’d like to learn more about working as a research analyst:
“Advice on How to Become a Research Analyst” – read this blog post to learn about the skills and qualities that research analysts should focus on to enhance their employment prospects and add value for potential employers.
Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation by Sharan B. Merriam and Elizabeth J. Tisdell – this book explores tools and methodologies for conducting qualitative research and analyzing data.
Insights Association – this professional organization provides research analysts with access to industry news and information, professional development resources, and opportunities to connect with other research and analytics professionals.
New Methods of Market Research and Analysis by G. Scott Erickson – this book focuses on market research but contains information on data gathering and analytics that can benefit research analysts in any field.
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