Career Education - Learn about all careers, career pay salary, job outlook

What Survey Researchers Do

Survey researchers design or conduct surveys and analyze survey data. Many groups use surveys to collect factual data, such as employment and salary information, or to ask questions that help them understand people's opinions, attitudes, beliefs, or desires.


Survey researchers typically do the following:

Survey researchers design and conduct surveys for scientific, public opinion, and marketing research purposes. Surveys for scientific research cover various fields, including government, health, social sciences, and education. A survey researcher may, for example, try to accurately capture information such as 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 a certain group. Surveys cover a wide variety of topics, including political issues, social issues, culture, the economy, or health.

Other survey researchers design marketing surveys that examine products or services consumers want, need, or prefer. Researchers who both collect and analyze market research data are known as market research analysts. For more information, see the profile on market research analysts.

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

Some surveys solicit the opinion of the entire population and others target a smaller group, such as residents of a particular state, a specific demographic group, or members of a political party. Researchers survey a sample of the population and use statistics to make sure the sample accurately represents the target population group. Researchers use a variety of statistical techniques and analytical software to plan surveys and analyze the results.   

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

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition