Survey Researchers

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Also known as:
Pollster, Survey Methodologist, Survey Questionnaire Designer, Survey Researcher

Video transcript

One of the freedoms that Americans cherish is the right to express an opinion. The people responsible for gathering many of those opinions are survey researchers. These researchers create questionnaires designed for specific purposes.

For example, clients may want to find out what people think about certain products, services, or even political issues. The next step is to get the public to respond to the questionnaire. There are many ways survey researchers achieve this. Some conduct interviews, either face-to-face or on the telephone. Here, a clear speaking voice and polite, pleasant manner are essential.

Surveys are also conducted on the internet or through the mail. Whatever method is used to elicit responses, the researcher must organize and interpret the information gathered. This usually requires writing highly detailed reports supported by charts and graphs.

Employers look for survey researchers who have advanced college degrees in marketing, statistics, and/or business administration. Good communication skills, patience, persistence, attention to detail, and the ability to work well with others are also valuable traits to have.

Most survey researchers work under tight deadlines. They might need to put in long hours to get the job done. Travel may be necessary as well. And there's another ingredient to success in this career: it certainly helps to be truly interested in what other people are thinking, because it's your job to find out.

Plan, develop, or conduct surveys. May analyze and interpret the meaning of survey data, determine survey objectives, or suggest or test question wording. Includes social scientists who primarily design questionnaires or supervise survey teams.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Write training manuals to be used by survey interviewers.

Hire and train recruiters and data collectors.

Analyze data from surveys, old records, or case studies, using statistical software.

Write proposals to win new projects.

Collaborate with other researchers in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of surveys.

Conduct surveys and collect data, using methods such as interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, market analysis surveys, public opinion polls, literature reviews, and file reviews.

Determine and specify details of survey projects, including sources of information, procedures to be used, and the design of survey instruments and materials.

Review, classify, and record survey data in preparation for computer analysis.

Direct and review the work of staff members, including survey support staff and interviewers who gather survey data.

Support, plan, and coordinate operations for single or multiple surveys.

Prepare and present summaries and analyses of survey data, including tables, graphs, and fact sheets that describe survey techniques and results.

Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Sociology and Anthropology Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
Communications and Media Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Mathematics Using mathematics to solve problems.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.