Research officers are employed in a range of government departments and bodies. They work closely with statistical analysts and economists to research and evaluate new and existing policies. The outcome of research officers findings often influence decisions made by government officials and result in a change of social policy, according to Prospects. The role is challenging and diverse with many research officers commissioning and managing their own research projects.
The Warwickshire council notes that research officers should have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant area including social research, social planning or statistics. Research officers must have proven academic skills in social trends, demographic trends, quantitative and qualitative research methods, and local government and consultation methods, according to the Warwickshire council. Prospects report entry without a degree is not possible and ideal college courses include social sciences, operational research and economics.
Research officers must be able to pay meticulous attention to detail and have strong analytical skills. Prospects notes that desirable skills for research officers include understanding the political process, strong social research and numeric skills, an interest in policy process and a determination to explore issues thoroughly. As the role involves working alongside other professionals both internally and externally, the ability to work well in a team, a professional manner and professional attitude are required.
Typical day-to-day duties of a research officer may vary depending on the level of responsibility and employer. According to Prospects, research officers are expected to discuss and agree to new project requirements, project manage particular projects, provide information on new policy and explain their complex findings in a way that is easy to understand. Research officers must also regularly work with external research contractors so they may at times be required to give presentations of findings.
Prospects notes that competition into the profession is tough. Undertaking a work shadowing placement or internship alongside studies can prove beneficial when trying to secure work after graduation. The Warwickshire council notes that research officers typically work a 37-hour week and applicants may have to undergo a criminal records check.
The salary range of a research officer may vary depending on location, employer and level of responsibility. According to Indeed, the average annual salary of a research officer in July 2010 was $76,000. The Warwickshire council notes that employees may receive additional benefits such as entry into a pension scheme.
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