Working as a Survey Researcher

What Does a Survey Researcher Do

Survey researchers design surveys and analyze data. Surveys are used to collect factual data, such as employment and salary information, or to ask questions in order to understand people’s opinions, preferences, beliefs, or desires.

Duties

Survey researchers typically do the following:

  • Conduct background research on survey topics
  • Plan and design surveys and determine appropriate survey methods
  • Test surveys to make sure that people will understand the questions being asked
  • Coordinate the work of survey interviewers and data collectors
  • Account for and solve problems caused by nonrespondents or other sampling issues
  • Analyze data using statistical software and techniques
  • Summarize survey data using tables, graphs, and fact sheets
  • Evaluate surveys, methods, and performance to improve future surveys

Survey researchers design and conduct surveys for different research purposes. Surveys for scientific research cover various fields, including government, health, social sciences, and education. For example, a survey researcher may try to capture information about the prevalence of drug use or disease.

Some survey researchers design public opinion surveys, which are intended to gather information about the attitudes and opinions of society or of a certain group. Surveys can cover a wide variety of topics, including politics, culture, the economy, or health.

Other survey researchers design marketing surveys which examine products or services that consumers want, need, or prefer. Researchers who collect and analyze market research data are known as market research analysts.

Survey researchers may conduct surveys in many different formats, such as interviews, questionnaires, and focus groups (in-person, small group sessions with a facilitator). They use different methods to collect data, including the Internet, mail, and telephone and in-person interviews.

Some researchers use surveys to solicit the opinions of an entire population, such as the decennial census, and others use them to target a smaller group, such as a specific demographic group, residents of a particular state, or members of a political party.

Researchers survey a sample of the population and use statistics to make sure the sample accurately represents the target population group. Researchers use a variety of statistical techniques and analytical software to plan surveys, adjust for errors in the data, and analyze the results. 

Survey researchers sometimes supervise interviewers who collect the survey data through in-person interviews or by telephone.

How To Become a Survey Researcher

Many research positions require a master’s degree or Ph.D., though a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for some entry-level positions. In addition, employers generally prefer candidates who have previous experience performing research, using statistics, and analyzing data.

Education

Many research positions require a master’s degree or Ph.D. Survey researchers can have a master’s degree in a variety of fields, including marketing or survey research, statistics, and the social sciences.

A bachelor’s degree is sufficient for some entry-level positions. To prepare to enter this occupation, students should take courses in research methods, survey methodology, and statistics. Many also may benefit from taking business courses, such as marketing and consumer behavior, and social science courses, such as psychology, sociology, and economics. 

Other Experience

Prospective survey researchers can gain experience through internships or fellowships. Many businesses, research and polling firms, and marketing companies offer internships for college students or recent graduates who want to work in market and survey research.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Survey researchers are not required by law to be licensed or certified. Although not mandatory, certification can show a level of professional competence.

The Marketing Research Association offers the Professional Researcher Certification for survey researchers. To qualify, candidates must have at least 3 years of experience working in opinion and marketing research, pass an exam, and be a member of a professional organization. Researchers must complete continuing education courses and apply for renewal every 2 years to maintain their certification. 

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Survey researchers must be able to apply statistical techniques to large amounts of data and interpret the results correctly. They also should be proficient in the statistical software used to analyze data.

Communication skills. Survey researchers need strong communication skills when conducting surveys and interpreting and presenting results to clients.

Critical-thinking skills. Survey researchers must design or choose a survey and survey method that best captures the information needed. They must also be able to look at the data and draw reasonable conclusions from the results of the survey.

Detail oriented. Survey researchers must pay attention to details, because survey results depend on collecting, analyzing, and reporting the data accurately. 

Problem-solving skills. Survey researchers need problem-solving skills when identifying survey design issues, adjusting survey questions, and interpreting survey results.

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Average Salary$47,812
Job Growth Rate1%

Survey Researcher Jobs

Survey Researcher Career Paths

Top Careers Before Survey Researcher
Cashier14.2 %
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Top Careers After Survey Researcher
Cashier11.1 %
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What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Survey Researcher

Survey Researchers in America make an average salary of $47,812 per year or $23 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $69,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $32,000 per year.
Average Salary
$47,812

Best Paying Cities

City
Average Salary

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Survey Researcher
Survey Researcher
Penn State University
Penn State University
06/17/2020
06/17/2020
$25,04406/17/2020
$25,044
Survey Researcher
Survey Researcher
Pennsylvania State University
Pennsylvania State University
03/25/2020
03/25/2020
$25,04403/25/2020
$25,044
Survey Researcher
Survey Researcher
Sage Staffing
Sage Staffing
10/24/2019
10/24/2019
$41,74010/24/2019
$41,740
Survey Researcher
Survey Researcher
Pennsylvania State University
Pennsylvania State University
09/04/2019
09/04/2019
$25,04409/04/2019
$25,044
Survey Researcher
Survey Researcher
Yougov America, Inc.>
Yougov America, Inc.>
08/05/2019
08/05/2019
$80,00008/05/2019
$80,000
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Survey Researcher Demographics

Gender

Female

54.5 %

Male

39.4 %

Unknown

6.1 %
Ethnicity

White

60.7 %

Hispanic or Latino

14.2 %

Black or African American

11.8 %
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

46.7 %

Chinese

5.3 %

Korean

5.3 %
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Survey Researcher Education

Schools

Michigan State University

14.1 %

Louisiana State University and A&M College

9.4 %

High Point University

8.2 %

Hope College

5.9 %
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Majors

Business

17.2 %

Psychology

8.6 %

Criminal Justice

8.2 %

Political Science

6.5 %
Show More
Degrees

Bachelors

53.2 %

High School Diploma

14.7 %

Masters

12.4 %

Associate

10.4 %
Show More

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Survey Researcher

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Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Survey Researcher

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 10.1% of survey researchers listed telephone surveys on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and physical stamina are important as well.

Best States For a Survey Researcher

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a survey researcher. The best states for people in this position are Illinois, New Jersey, Iowa, and Rhode Island. Survey researchers make the most in Illinois with an average salary of $45,387. Whereas in New Jersey and Iowa, they would average $44,902 and $43,795, respectively. While survey researchers would only make an average of $43,668 in Rhode Island, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Kansas

Total Survey Researcher Jobs:
3
Highest 10% Earn:
$72,000
Location Quotient:
1.25
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Jersey

Total Survey Researcher Jobs:
10
Highest 10% Earn:
$78,000
Location Quotient:
1.24
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Iowa

Total Survey Researcher Jobs:
2
Highest 10% Earn:
$73,000
Location Quotient:
0.6
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Survey Researcher Employers

1. ICF
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$74,109
Survey Researchers Hired: 
33+
2. Louisiana State University
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$44,099
Survey Researchers Hired: 
9+
3. Vail Resorts
3.8
Avg. Salary: 
$31,456
Survey Researchers Hired: 
9+
4. Mathematica Policy Research
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$47,638
Survey Researchers Hired: 
8+
5. Research Triangle Institute
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$52,306
Survey Researchers Hired: 
8+
6. Six Flags
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$26,907
Survey Researchers Hired: 
6+

Recently Added Survey Researcher Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020