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Survey Research Careers

Career Description

Survey Researchers design or conduct surveys.  They may supervise interviewers who conduct the survey in person or over the telephone and present survey results to client.

Common Work Tasks

  • Gather information about people and their opinions
  • Design and conduct surveys
  • Work for a variety of clients, such as corporations, government agencies, political candidates, and providers of various services
  • Collect information that is used in performing research, making fiscal or policy decisions, measuring the effectiveness of those decisions, or improving customer satisfaction
  • Conduct opinion research to determine public attitudes on various issues
  • Help political or business leaders to measure public support for their electoral prospects or social policies
  • Use a variety of mediums to conduct surveys,  such as the Internet, personal or telephone interviews, or questionnaires sent through the mail
  • Consult with economists, statisticians, market research researchers, or other data users in order to design surveys

Other Job Titles

Survey Researchers are also known by other titles,  including:

  • Pollsters
  • Public Opinion Researchers
  • Survey Analysts
  • Research Analysts

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for many survey research jobs.  However, a master’s degree may be required, especially for technical positions.

In addition to completing courses in business, marketing, and consumer behavior, prospective survey researchers should take other liberal arts and social science courses, including economics,  psychology, English, and sociology. Because of the importance of quantitative skills to survey researchers, courses in mathematics, statistics, sampling theory and survey design, and computer science are extremely helpful. Survey researchers often earn advanced degrees in business administration, marketing,  statistics, communications, or other closely related disciplines.

While in college, aspiring survey researchers should gain experience gathering and analyzing data, conducting interviews or surveys, and writing reports on their findings. This experience can prove invaluable later in obtaining a full-time position in the field, because much of the initial work may center on these duties. Some schools help graduate students find internships or part-time employment in government agencies, consulting firms, financial institutions, or marketing research firms prior to graduation.

Survey researchers spend a lot of time performing precise data analysis, so those considering careers in the occupation should be able to pay attention to detail. Patience and persistence are also necessary qualities because these workers must spend long hours on independent study and problem solving. At the same time, they must work well with others; often, survey researchers oversee the interviewing of a wide variety of individuals. Communication skills are important, too, because researchers must be able to present their findings well both orally and in writing.


The median annual salary for a Survey Researcher is $37,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $78,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $17,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of survey researchers are:

  • Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services- $39,060
  • Scientific Research and Development Services- $50,600
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools- $52,350
  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services - $49,800
  • Employment Services - $28,660

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  16%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 4,300
  • Employment 2006 : 27,000
  • Employment 2016:  31,000
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