From design research, to market research, the world of research offers a range of career options. 

Do you have a curious mind? Do you love researching new areas? Do you love to tell the stories of others? If the answer is yes, a career in research might just be for you.

Doing research for a living is an entirely possible, and exciting, prospect. Especially if it brings you the great privilege of doing what you love.

Here are some of the most popular career options in research.

Design Researcher

A design researcher’s job is to investigate human’s behavior and experiences to address people’s needs and solve their problems.

They do this by ensuring designers produce optimally designed products and/or services.

What do design researchers do?

Design researchers help to develop new products or services. They do this by identifying a challenge, where a specific group of people could benefit from a product or service and developing one they’re likely to buy.

Designer researchers study the target audience to identify new products or services that fit their needs.

They’ll often also test the product/service throughout the design process so any issues can be resolved before the product goes to market.

This is a relatively new and revolutionary concept, usually only used by larger companies who can afford to have a design research team.

It means overall less money is wasted on products/services that stem simply from an idea and fail upon release.

Accessing the career

You can become a design researcher from a variety of backgrounds.

Skills you’ll need

  • Empathy and listening skills: information is often gathered through long interviews.
  • Ability to synthesize information: you need to be able to generate insights.
  • Storytelling: you need to be able to tell the stories of the people you collect data from, inferring what the audience wants in a product or a service and why they’re likely to buy it.

Average Salary – $71,030

Check out IDEO’s resources on being a design researcher here.

Market Researcher

A market researcher’s job is to gather and analyze data on consumers and competitors and to present to clients. The information is used to inform their decision-making.

What do market researchers do?

A market researcher will usually specialize in either qualitative or quantitative research.

Qualitative research will involve analyzing opinions and providing reasons for certain behaviors.

Quantitative research involves working with statistics and percentages, usually from large surveys and can deliver quicker results.

Details of the research will vary depending on the industry as well as the company and what service or product they’re providing.

Typical responsibilities can include; writing and managing the distribution of surveys or questionnaires, briefing interviewers and researchers, moderating focus groups, undertaking ethnographic research, using statistical software to organize information and analyzing and interpreting data to provide solutions.

Market researchers can experience rapid career progression. Often, they can progress to senior posts within 2-3 years of entering the profession.

Getting started

The majority of employers would expect candidates to have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Saying that, a variety of degrees are accepted.

Work experience is usually needed for entry-level market researcg roles. You can get work experience through placements, volunteering and shadowing.

Skills you’ll need

  • Interpersonal skills: useful when conducting interviews and liaising with clients.
  • Excellent organizational skills: you’ll be working in a fast-paced environment.
  • Accuracy and attention to detail: research experiments need to be set up carefully in order to generate insights.
  • Team player: working with many other teams to produce the products/services.
  • Numerical and analytical skills: the role can involve handling large amounts of data.
  • IT skills: data will often need to be analyzed and manipulated in software like Excel.

Average Salary – $63,790

Business Development Manager

A business developer manager’s job is to identify opportunities for growth.

What do business development managers do?

A business development manager will manage all business development within an organization.

They’re responsible for identifying new opportunities, maintaining a good relationship with existing clients and evaluating performance across a business to ensure it’s reaching its potential.

Typical duties for a business developer include identifying potential clients in the target market and researching their needs.

This job will involve a lot of research, so make sure you brush up on your research skills.

A business development manager also collaborates with other teams to ensure products are executed on time and to agreed specifications, making sure processes are running smoothly at all levels.

They’ll also be responsible for negotiating with clients, doing deals and communicating them to the business’s stakeholders.

Getting started

Most companies will expect you to have experience in either sales, marketing or business development to display your interest in the position.

Without a degree, you could take a course, for example, a level 2 diploma in skills for business, alongside some industry experience.

You’ll have to demonstrate a basic understanding of the industry and use business acumen.

Skills you’ll need

  • Outstanding communication skills.
  • Proficiency in IT and software such as Word and Excel.
  • Be able to work in a stressful, fast-paced environment and to tight deadlines.
  • Basic problem-solving skills.

Average Salary – $68,904

Operational Researcher

An operational researchers’ job is to use analytical methods to assist organizations in finding more effective ways of working.

What do operational researchers do?

Operational researchers will use analytical approaches, such as mathematical modelling and computer software to discover more effective ways of running an organization.

The organization uses the research to inform their operational decisions. They’ll use a mix of qualitative and quantitative research.

Typical responsibilities include problem solving (through collecting and analyzing data), using statistical methods and testing hypotheses, inventing solutions to client’s problems and testing them, compiling reports to present findings and feeding in results to management to implement better operations.

Accessing the career

In most circumstances, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, and often a MSc too. Most operational researchers are graduates with at least a 2:1 in a relevant subject, including (but not limited to) business, economics, engineering, management science and mathematics.

Skills you’ll need

  • Mathematical skills – the ability to deploy advanced analytical techniques.
  • Communicative and interpersonal skills – useful when collecting data in the field and when reporting data to colleagues and clients.

Average Salary – $83,390

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