For a recent college graduate with research abilities, strong quantitative skills and an interest in business, an entry-level job as a market research analyst can be a first step to a rewarding career. Market research analysts help companies plan sales and marketing strategies by researching consumer preferences and projecting sales. These specialists work in consulting firms, advertising and public relations agencies and other settings. Entry-level market researchers also receive generous starting salaries for their work, according to survey data by Pay Scale, an online compensation database
Pay Scale reported in December 2010 that market research analysts received annual salaries ranging from $38,805 to $54,818. These figures, however, cover analysts with varying levels of skill and experience. Viewed by years of experience, Pay Scale's results show that market research analysts with less than one year of experience earned salaries ranging from $33,906 to $49,302 a year.
The largest sources of jobs for market research analysts include market research firms, advertising and public relations agencies, and business consulting organizations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the best job opportunities exist in consulting and market research firms as many businesses find it more profitable to contract these services rather than operate their own marketing departments. Pay Scale reported that starting salaries in consulting, market research and advertising firms range from $37,000 to $40,000 a year.
Entry-level market researchers who gain experience can find higher-paying job opportunities in their chosen profession. Pay Scale's data indicate that analysts with one to four years of experience earn between $38,000 and $52,000 a year, while analysts who accumulate up to nine years can earn as much as $63,000 a year. Senior-level market researchers with 20 or more years of experience receive salaries as high as $93,000 a year, according to Pay Scale.
The BLS projects faster-than-average job growth in market research analyst positions, but warns that new college graduates with bachelor's degrees can expect heavy competition for entry-level jobs, as many may require a master's degree or higher. Men and women interested in market research careers should gain strong skills in statistics, survey design and computer science to improve their employment prospects, which may help them land the best-paying jobs in the profession.