Check out the opportunities in market research. You'll discover one of the hottest job markets in business, strong salary potential and a wealth of market research schools offering an online degree program.

Marketing specialists and research analysts do the behind-the-scenes work to monitor local markets and forecast sales potential. Using both quantitative and qualitative resources, they assess market demand and determine how best to position a business, product or service. They perform an essential, analytic function amongst the many available marketing careers, and certainly allow for individuals to interact with many different market segments. Research tools range from large data sets to customer surveys and focus groups. Math and analytical skills are paramount, as is the ability to communicate information and recommendations to business leaders or clients.

Market research analyst education programs

At least a bachelor's degree in marketing, business, mathematics or another related field is required for most market research analyst and marketing specialist careers. Courses in research methods, statistics, economics, communications and the social sciences can introduce students to a deeper understanding of the field and may help demonstrate their asset value to potential employers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs with a strong leadership or technical research component may require a master's degree in statistics, marketing or business administration. Bachelor's and graduate degrees in market research and related fields are widely available online, allowing mid-career professionals to hone their credentials while they work.

Job Outlook: Market Research Analyst

Data analysis and market research are on the rise across all industries. Companies, universities, nonprofit organizations and government agencies are all becoming increasingly interested in understanding the people who use their products and services, and graduates of marketing degree programs typically find themselves well-equipped to tackle the tasks of the discipline.

Nationwide employment of market research analysts and marketing specialists in the U.S. surpassed 430,000 in 2013, according to the BLS, with a great deal of further growth expected in the next 10 years. The BLS projects that employment of market research analysts and specialists will grow 32 percent between 2012 and 2022, adding about 131,500 new positions.

The number of positions available for market research analysts and marketing specialists can vary quite a bit from state to state, from as few as 290 in Wyoming to as more than 70,000 in California. Here are the five states that employed the most marketing operatives in 2013, according to the BLS:

  1. California: 70,260
  2. New York: 39,960
  3. Texas: 24,270
  4. Pennsylvania: 22,330
  5. Ohio: 18,840

The top two metropolitan areas for market research analysts, the greater New York City and greater Los Angeles areas, were home to nearly 12 percent of individuals employed in the field in 2013.

Market Research Analyst Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a 2013 mean annual wage of $67,780 for market research analysts and marketing specialists. Salary expectations tend to vary based on level of education, job experience, employing industry and geographical location, leading to a fairly large potential salary range in the profession. The bottom 10 percent of market research analysts and marketing specialists made less than $33,490 in 2013, while the top 10 percent took home more than $114,250 the same year.

The average market research analyst salary tends to be higher in some industries than others. According to BLS data, these were the five highest-paying industries for graduates with marketing degrees in 2013, in terms of average annual wages:

  1. Support activities for mining: $101,530
  2. Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing: $98,320
  3. Motor vehicle manufacturing: $96,470
  4. Aerospace product and parts manufacturing: $95,900
  5. Securities and commodity contracts intermediation: $94,900
Location Impact

Location can also have a significant influence on the salary of marketing professionals, and salary figures tend to mean more when compared with cost of living estimates for the region where they were calculated. The BLS and Missouri Economic Research and Information Center have crunched these numbers for you — here are some suggested hot spots for marketing analyst careers, based on their 2013-14 data:

  • Owensboro, Kentucky — metropolitan mean annual wage of $79,930; state ranks third in affordability
  • Eastern Idaho — regional mean annual wage of $91,320; state ranks 19th in affordability
  • Texas: statewide mean annual wage of $70,000; state ranks 11th in affordability

Even though California ranks among the six most expensive states in the U.S., the mean annual wage of $103,200 among the 7,770 market research analysts in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area might offset the increase in cost of living.

Article Sources

Market Research Analysts, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,

Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,