Why Consider a Career in Survey Methodology?

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Graduates at the Masters and PhD levels are in high demand in the job market. Government agencies, such as those in the U. S. federal statistical system (e.g., Bureau of the Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics) spend approximately $4 billion annually on economic and social information collection and dissemination and employ 12,000 staff. The commercial sector presents job opportunities in survey, market and media research firms, as well as research units within particular companies, such as those in the automotive and high tech fields; annual gross revenues exceed $10-15 billion and more than 45,000 technical staff are employed. The polling and public opinion industry offers many employment opportunities in producing high visibility and influential statistics. Academic survey centers and, recently, survey methodology education programs, employ staff and faculty with specialization in survey methodology.

What Kind of Work Do Survey Methodologists Do?

Survey methods change and are created as they are applied to an increasingly wide range of topics, and as new technologies develop that can be adapted to the collection and extraction of data. Methodologists design and implement these collection strategies. Survey methodology is a dynamic field where new challenges arise all the time, and bright, talented individuals are needed to develop and test new methods.

Our alumni are working at places like Pew Research, Survey Monkey, US Census BureauQualtrics, UCLA, Market Strategies International, University of Manchester, Research Triangle Institute, Uber, Boston Children's Hospital, NORC at the University of Chicago, University of Michigan Survey Research Center and the University of Nebraska.

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What Kind of Background Is Needed to Work in This Field?

Survey methodology is a field where individuals with interests and training as diverse as statistics, data science, and the study of human and social behavior may use their talents. Substantive background is often less important than having the right methodological skill set. It is important to keep in mind, though, that whatever the background, survey methodology is a quantitative research method, and preparation in some topics in mathematics is going to be useful.

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What Is the Job Market Like for Survey Methodologists?

Individuals holding Masters and PhD degrees in statistical, data and social sciences with training in survey methodology are in high demand. Jobs are available in government, academia, and private industry.

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What Are the Salaries Like?

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Bureau reports median annual wage-and-salary earnings for all occupations collected through the National Compensation Survey.

According to statistics available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2014 the mean salary for survey researchers was $54,730 per year.  Survey researchers plan, develop or conduct surveys. 

In May 2014, the mean salary for statisticians was $84,010.  Statisticians develop or apply mathematical or statistical theory and methods to collect, organize, interpret and summarize numerical data.  This category includes survey statisticians.

To further explore Occupational Employment Statistics for these and other related occupations, please see the BLS website.