Public Opinion Researchers
Approximately 9,930 survey researchers are employed in the United States, including those who work in public opinion polling. Most public opinion researchers are employed by private companies, such as public and private research firms and advertising agencies. They also work for government agencies and for various colleges and universities, often in research and teaching capacities. As is usually the case, those with the most experience and education should find the greatest number of job opportunities. Gaining experience in a specific area (such as food products) can give prospective researchers an edge.
Many people enter the field in a support position such as a survey worker, and with experience become interviewers or work as data analysts. Those with applicable education, training, and experience may begin as interviewers or data analysts. College career counselors can often help qualified students find an appropriate position in public opinion research. Contacts can also be made through summer employment or by locating public and private research companies online.
Advancement opportunities are numerous in the public opinion research field. Often a research assistant will be promoted to a position as an interviewer or data analyst and, after sufficient experience in these or other aspects of research project development, become involved in a supervisory or planning capacity.
With a master's degree or doctorate, a person can become a manager of a large private research organization or marketing research director for an industrial or business firm. Those with extended work experience in public opinion research and with sufficient credentials may choose to start their own companies. Opportunities also exist in university teaching or research and development.
Tips for Entry
Read Public Opinion Quarterly (https://academic.oup.com/poq) to learn more about the field.
Join the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and other professional associations to access networking opportunities; receive discounts on conferences, continuing education classes, and publications; and receive special member-only career resources.
Attend the AAPOR Annual Conference to network and participate in continuing education opportunities.
Visit https://jobs.aapor.org for job listings.
Try to get a summer job doing statistical research with your local government or a marketing research firm.