2019 Market Research Salaries and 2020 Hiring and Job Hunt Advice

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It was a good year to be a market researcher, and we see positive things continuing in 2020. Here are our year-end thoughts on market research salaries and some advice for hiring and job hunting in the market research world of the future.

Growth in Market Research Salaries

MMR Programs. There are now several more universities providing Master’s in Market Research as an option for students pursuing higher education. This allows candidates to be foundationally strong in qualitative and quantitative research methods before gaining professional experience, making them overqualified for entry-level salaries.

Growth. There are more new opportunities than back-fill opportunities. What this means is that budgets continue to grow and there is an abundance of work to be done versus company’s losing staff or re-organizing.

Candidate Driven. It’s a candidate’s market and companies needs to be more competitive. 2019 has brought more options for senior level candidates and those on the market seem to be interviewing multiple places at once. If you’re interested in a candidate, it’s best to pursue them quickly and be flexible with compensation as needed.

Salary Laws. Most states have passed a law prohibiting offers to be based on a candidate’s past salary. Our blog details some of the rules. Offers are made based on the range pre-determined for the role as well as the candidate’s expectation.

Industry Impact on Market Research Salaries

The highest paying opportunities are within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. They are able to provide the most comprehensive offers to candidates with sign-on bonuses, long-term incentives, and flexible work schedules. The technology industry is a close second in rising salaries.

The lowest paying industries in 2019 were the financial services industry as well as the retail industry. This was the same as in 2018. And, pension plans still exist in the industrial B2B space as well as the pharmaceutical industry but are very rare elsewhere.

Desirable Locations for the Highest Market Research Salaries

San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest remain the highest cost of living areas in the United States, as well as having the highest salaries for market researchers. Second to San Francisco is a grouping of Los Angeles, Boston, and New York City. From what we’ve seen this past year, the third tier includes New Jersey, Metro DC, and Chicago.

Supplier versus Client-Side Market Research Salaries

As you evolve within a supplier, you obtain a heavy business development component to your position. The Director+ positions tend to have strong commission opportunity, depending on the organization. Some organizations have no cap on commission, giving candidates an opportunity to double their salary.

On the client-side, as you grow internally, you realize a higher bonus structure, better long term incentives and possibly even stock shares or options. Some companies even still offer pension plans or stipends for health & wellness.

Market Research Salaries


Hiring Advice for 2020

Understand we are living in a candidate’s market. Be open minded on years of experience and compensation expectations. Focus more on their ability to do the work, not how many years they’ve been doing it. Provide industry training and continuing education. Candidates are highly interested in organizations who invest in them, not just give them a job. Have a clear path or trajectory for candidates, even if it is open-ended. When a candidate understands how much they can grow and learn they will be more inclined to make a move.

The number one reason for candidate’s leaving their positions in 2019 was for feeling pigeon-holed, underappreciated, or they were hitting a ceiling and not learning new things. Provide solutions for these issues.

Remember all candidates are passive candidates. They need to be as impressed by your company just as much as you need to be impressed by them.

Job Hunting Advice for 2020

Be prepared and do your research. The number one concern of hiring managers in 2019 is that candidates come to the interview (phone or in person) without having done their research on why they would potentially want to be a part of the team. Make sure you understand the company and come up with questions that show you’ve done your research. Be able to answer the “W” questions. Why this company? Why are you leaving your current organization? Why would you be interested? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What are you looking for in your next role?

There will be competition so be prepared and do your best. Hiring managers don’t hire candidates who come off uninterested in the position. Here is an interview prep guide.

Be responsive. The number two concern of hiring manages has been lack of response from candidates. If it takes you longer than 24 hours to respond to any email, call or text from the client, it comes off as lack of interest. Be quick and accommodating. You can always turn down a job offer you don’t want, but nurture the process until you are sure what you want or don’t want.

Smith Hanley Associates is excited about entering our 40th year in recruiting. Put our extensive market research experience and contacts to work for you. Contact Market Research Practice Lead, Lindsey Bartlett, at lbartlett@smithhanley.com.

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