Research analysts are professional researchers who do much of the legwork needed for businesses and government agencies to make informed decisions regarding future courses of action. The research analyst conducts research and puts together reports outlining his findings on specific topics that he may be assigned by his employer. Different types of research analyst careers are possible, including operations research, economics research and marketing research. Qualifications for each area are similar.
Research analyst jobs often require the completion of a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Entry-level positions for operations research analysts, for example, require the completion of a bachelor's degree with a heavy emphasis in mathematics and statistics. This is a common requirement in other fields as well, such as economics and marketing research, where the results of the research depend heavily upon statistical models. Analysts working in a business-related sector need to have a strong business education foundation.
Certain research analysts jobs require the completion of a graduate-level degree. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, notes that technical positions for market researchers generally require the completion of a master's degree or higher. Research analysts who work as economists in the private sector typically need a master's degree or a Ph.D. in economics. This is also true for advancing up the ladder for higher-level or senior positions. Operations analysts also need a master's degree for certain positions. A master's degree in either operations research or management science is typically needed.
Research analysts need to be detail oriented, as much of their time is spent looking at and analyzing large amounts of data. A strong quantitative and analytic background from a college education can provide the necessary training for this. Because of the complex analytical and scientific software used by analysts, they must also have a considerable amount of knowledge of how to use these programs and apply their findings to their research. Market research analysts need to know how to use programs such as Provalis Research's SimStat and Sawtooth's Composite Product Mapping to conduct research and perform analysis.
Strong communications skills are another key qualification for working as a research analyst, regardless of which field of research you work in. Research analysts must have a strong command of the English language to present the results of their findings in both written and oral form. Analysts may be called upon to put together complex reports and present the results of their research to those individuals who have less technical knowledge of the analyst's field. Analysts need to be able to communicate technical information in a straightforward and accessible manner. Research analysts also work on collaborative projects and need to be able to communicate with other analysts working on the same project to coordinate research efforts and synthesize the results of their research.