Bureau of Labor Statistics

Survey Researchers

survey researchers image
Survey researchers meet with clients to determine appropriate survey methods.
Quick Facts: Survey Researchers
2020 Median Pay $59,870 per year
$28.79 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Master's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2019 12,200
Job Outlook, 2019-29 -4% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2019-29 -400

Summary

What Survey Researchers Do

Survey researchers design and conduct surveys and analyze data.

Work Environment

Most survey researchers work in research firms, polling organizations, nonprofits, corporations, colleges and universities, and government agencies. The majority work full time during regular business hours.

How to Become a Survey Researcher

Many research positions require a master’s degree or Ph.D., although a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for some entry-level positions.

Pay

The median annual wage for survey researchers was $59,870 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of survey researchers is projected to decline 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. 

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for survey researchers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of survey researchers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about survey researchers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Survey Researchers Do

Survey researchers
Survey researchers often present their findings.

Survey researchers design surveys and analyze data. Surveys are used to collect factual data, such as employment and salary information, or to ask questions in order to understand people’s opinions, preferences, beliefs, or desires.

Duties

Survey researchers typically do the following:

  • Conduct background research on survey topics
  • Plan and design surveys, and determine appropriate survey methods
  • Test surveys to make sure that people will understand the questions being asked
  • Coordinate the work of survey interviewers and data collectors
  • Account for and solve problems caused by nonresponse or other sampling issues
  • Analyze data, using statistical software and techniques
  • Summarize survey data, using tables, graphs, and fact sheets
  • Evaluate surveys, the methods underlying them, and their performance to improve future surveys

Survey researchers design and conduct surveys for different research purposes. Surveys for scientific research cover various topics, including government, health, social sciences, and education. For example, a survey researcher may try to capture information about the prevalence of drug use or disease.

Some survey researchers design public opinion surveys, which are intended to gather information about the attitudes and opinions of society or of a certain group. Surveys can cover a wide variety of topics, including politics, culture, the economy, or health.

Other survey researchers design marketing surveys which examine products or services that consumers want, need, or prefer. Researchers who collect and analyze market research data are known as market research analysts.

Survey researchers may conduct surveys in many different formats, such as interviews, questionnaires, and focus groups (in-person, small group sessions led by a facilitator). They use different methods to collect data, including the Internet, mail, and telephone and in-person interviews.

Some researchers use surveys to solicit the opinions of an entire population. The decennial census is an example of such a survey. Others use surveys to target a smaller group, such as a specific demographic group, residents of a particular state, or members of a political party.

Researchers survey a sample of the population and use statistics to make sure that the sample accurately represents the target population group. Researchers use a variety of statistical techniques and analytical software to plan surveys, adjust for errors in the data, and analyze the results.

Survey researchers sometimes supervise interviewers who collect survey data through in-person interviews or by telephone.

Work Environment

Survey researchers
Survey researchers often work alone, compiling results and analyzing data.

Survey researchers held about 12,200 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of survey researchers were as follows:

Other professional, scientific, and technical services 38%
Scientific research and development services 16
Self-employed workers 15
Educational services; state, local, and private 8
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 6

Survey researchers work in research firms, polling organizations, nonprofits, and corporations.

Survey researchers who conduct interviews have frequent contact with the public. Some may work outside the office, traveling to meet with clients or conducting in-person interviews and focus group sessions. When designing surveys and analyzing data, they usually work alone in an office setting, although some work on teams with other researchers.

How to Become a Survey Researcher

Survey researchers
Many research positions require a master's degree or Ph.D., though a bachelor's degree may be sufficient for some entry-level positions.

Many research positions require a master’s degree or Ph.D., although a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for some entry-level positions.

Education

Many research positions require a master’s degree or Ph.D. Survey researchers can have a master’s degree in a variety of fields, including marketing or survey research, statistics, and the social sciences. A bachelor’s degree is sufficient for some entry-level positions.

To prepare to enter this occupation, students should take courses in research methods, survey methodology, computer science, mathematics, and statistics. Many also may benefit from taking business courses, such as marketing and consumer behavior, and social science courses, such as psychology, sociology, and economics.

Other Experience

Prospective survey researchers can gain experience through internships or fellowships. Many businesses, research and polling firms, and marketing companies offer internships for college students or recent graduates who want to work in market and survey research. These opportunities, which provide valuable experience, can be very helpful toward getting a job.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although survey researchers are not required by law to be licensed or certified, certification can show a level of professional competence.

The Insights Association offers the Professional Researcher Certification for survey researchers. To qualify, candidates must have at least 3 years of experience working in opinion and marketing research, pass an exam, and be a member of a professional organization. Researchers must complete continuing education courses and apply for renewal every 2 years to maintain their certification.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Survey researchers must be able to apply statistical techniques to large amounts of data and interpret the results correctly. They also should be proficient in the statistical software used to analyze data.

Communication skills. Survey researchers need strong communication skills when conducting surveys and interpreting and presenting results to clients.

Critical-thinking skills. Survey researchers must design or choose a survey and a survey method that together best capture the information needed. They must also be able to look at the data and draw reasonable conclusions from the results of the survey.

Detail oriented. Survey researchers must pay attention to details, because survey results depend on collecting, analyzing, and reporting the data accurately.

Problem-solving skills. Survey researchers need problem-solving skills when identifying survey design issues, adjusting survey questions, and interpreting survey results.

Pay

Survey Researchers

Median annual wages, May 2020

Social scientists and related workers

$82,280

Survey researchers

$59,870

Total, all occupations

$41,950

 

The median annual wage for survey researchers was $59,870 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,970, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $110,910.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for survey researchers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Scientific research and development services $74,800
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 59,560
Other professional, scientific, and technical services 58,430
Educational services; state, local, and private 53,740

Job Outlook

Survey Researchers

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Social scientists and related workers

4%

Total, all occupations

4%

Survey researchers

-4%

 

Employment of survey researchers is projected to decline 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. 

Survey research is an evolving field, with companies regularly adopting new methods and data sources in an effort to increase productivity. For example, data mining—finding trends in large sets of existing data—and collecting information from social media sites are expected to reduce the need for some traditional survey methods, such as telephone and in-person interviews. These changing research methods are expected to allow more survey research work to be done with fewer survey researchers, thus reducing the number of workers needed.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities should be best for those with an advanced degree in market or survey research, statistics, or the social sciences. Because of the relatively small number of survey researcher positions, bachelor’s degree holders will likely face strong competition from more qualified candidates.

Employment projections data for survey researchers, 2019-29

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Occupational Title

Survey researchers

SOC Code19-3022
Employment, 201912,200
Projected Employment, 202911,700
Percent Change, 2019-29-4
Numeric Change, 2019-29-400
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of survey researchers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2020 MEDIAN PAY
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers plan programs to generate interest in products or services.

Bachelor's degree $141,490
Advertising sales agents Advertising Sales Agents

Advertising sales agents sell advertising space to businesses and individuals.

High school diploma or equivalent $54,940
Economists Economists

Economists collect and analyze data, research trends, and evaluate economic issues for resources, goods, and services.

Master's degree $108,350
Market research analysts Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts study market conditions to examine potential sales of a product or service.

Bachelor's degree $65,810
Operations research analysts Operations Research Analysts

Operations research analysts use advanced mathematical and analytical methods to help solve complex issues.

Bachelor's degree $86,200
Political scientists Political Scientists

Political scientists study the origin, development, and operation of political systems.

Master's degree $125,350
Psychologists Psychologists

Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to one another and to their environments.

See How to Become One $82,180
Sociologists Sociologists

Sociologists study society and social behavior.

Master's degree $86,110
Mathematicians Mathematicians and Statisticians

Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and apply computational techniques to solve problems.

Master's degree $93,290

Contacts for More Info

Last Modified Date: Friday, April 9, 2021

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Survey Researchers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/survey-researchers.htm (visited July 10, 2021).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

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