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Home — Resources — Your career in research guide

Your career in research guide


Download the MRS Your Career in Research Guide In this guide you’ll discover why you should consider a career in research, the specialisms to consider, how to begin your career and the typical career progression you could expect.

The guide includes the following sections:

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market research manager jobs uk

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Market Research Manager Salary in the United Kingdom

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market research manager jobs uk

How much does a Market Research Manager make in the United Kingdom? The average Market Research Manager salary in the United Kingdom is £59,725 as of March 12, 2021, but the range typically falls between £43,218 and £76,078 . Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession. With more global market data that allows you to price your jobs around the world and compare job salaries across countries and cities on real-time compensation data, Salary.com helps you to determine your exact pay target.

Percentile Salary Location Last Updated
25th Percentile Market Research Manager Salary £43,218 United Kingdom March 12, 2021
50th Percentile Market Research Manager Salary £59,725 United Kingdom March 12, 2021
75th Percentile Market Research Manager Salary £76,078 United Kingdom March 12, 2021

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What does a Market Research Manager do?

Market Research Manager

Adelaide, AU

Manage and deliver custom research projects with mid to senior level clientÆs best in class research (design, timing, reporting, etc.

Formosa, AR

Manage research tools and platforms for the team, and provide guidance to ancillary platforms run by other teams.

Torreon, MX

Manage the day-to-day aspects for the research program from design and programming through to report analysis and production.

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Market Research Manager Frequently Asked Questions in the United Kingdom

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Market researcher

Market researchers collect and analyse data and information to help their clients make informed political, social and economic decisions

As a market researcher, you'll specialise in collecting, analysing and presenting either quantitative or qualitative research.

Most market researchers are employed by marketing agencies, where work is carried out on numerous projects for different companies and industries.

Sometimes market researchers are employed directly by a company (known as client-side), where they collect information on customer opinions, investment and marketing trends.

Types of market research

You'll specialise in either:

  • Quantitative research - which involves working with statistics and percentages and can deliver quick results.
  • Qualitative research - where you'll analyse opinions and can provide the reasons behind certain percentages. This is a longer process and can sometimes take years to complete.


There can be some variation in responsibilities depending on whether you work for an agency or client-side. However, you'll generally need to:

  • meet and liaise with clients to negotiate and agree research projects
  • prepare briefs and commission research
  • formulate plans or proposals to present to your client or senior management
  • write and manage the distribution of surveys and questionnaires
  • brief interviewers and researchers
  • liaise with and manage survey staff
  • moderate focus groups
  • undertake ethnographic research (observing people in their homes and other environments)
  • conduct qualitative or quantitative surveys, which may involve field, interview or focus group assessments
  • use statistical software to manage and organise information
  • monitor the progress of research projects
  • analyse and interpret data to identify patterns and solutions, including surveys and focus group transcripts
  • write detailed reports and present results
  • advise clients or senior management on how to best use research findings
  • manage budgets.
  • Starting salaries for trainee market researchers are in the region of £21,000 to £24,000.
  • With experience, salaries can rise to £25,000 to £35,000.
  • At a senior level, once you've gained significant experience, you can expect to earn from £40,000 to in excess of £70,000.

Salaries vary depending on a range of factors including your location, the type of role (e.g. qualitative or quantitative research), the type of employer (e.g. agency or client-side), your qualifications, experience and responsibilities.

Some larger firms may offer additional benefits, such as a company car, profit-sharing scheme, medical insurance, gym membership and bonuses.

Salary figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Working hours for in-house and quantitative researchers are generally 9am to 5pm, with occasional extra hours required to meet project deadlines. It's common for qualitative researchers to work evenings and weekends so that they have a better chance of contact with their respondents.

Career breaks and secondments may be possible if you're working for larger organisations, particularly if your role is client-side. There may be opportunities for hybrid working.

What to expect

  • You may be desk-based but some market researchers travel nationally, and occasionally internationally, to visit client organisations and to complete their research.
  • Many of the marketing research agencies are located around London and in the South East of England, although there are also hubs in the North (Manchester and Leeds) and Scotland (Edinburgh and Glasgow). Client-side posts are generally available nationwide.
  • Short-term contracts are available via recruitment agencies, although these are generally for more senior market research posts. The Market Research Society (MRS) has a Recruiter Search you can use to reach out to local recruiters.
  • Self-employment or freelance work is sometimes possible for those with significant experience and a good network of contacts.
  • This can be a fast-paced, challenging role due to the tight deadlines, but it can also be varied and rewarding.


Most employers expect candidates to have a degree, and look for skills in communication and analysis. If you want to get into quantitative research, a numerical degree is useful. Relevant subjects include:

  • business or management
  • mathematics
  • statistics.

For qualitative research it is helpful to have a degree in a subject such as:

  • anthropology
  • social sciences

Degrees in marketing, English and languages are also useful, but a variety of degrees are often accepted by employers.

For specialist industrial market research posts, a degree in a specific subject linked to the industry, such as engineering or science, may be useful. For some posts, an understanding and knowledge of specialist statistical software may give you an edge.

A postgraduate qualification isn't usually needed. However, a Masters or diploma in a statistics-related subject may improve your chances for some types of roles, particularly if your first degree doesn't contain much statistical or research content.

Consider taking The Market Research Society (MRS) Foundation Course in Market Research . This course is aimed at those with limited research experience, such as undergraduate or postgraduate students, and provides a grounding in the principles and practices of market research.

It's also possible to get into the role by taking a Level 4 (HNC level) Market Research Executive Apprenticeship . Apprenticeships combine study with paid work, allowing you to train on the job. You can search for an apprenticeship using Find an apprenticeship .

Some market researchers start out in operations in field agencies, telephone units, quality control or data processing, for example, and then progress into a market researcher role once they have experience. It's also possible to move into market research from other related jobs, such as marketer, advertising planner or data analyst.

You'll need to have:

  • strong verbal, written and presenting communication and interpersonal skills
  • analytical and numerical skills
  • an understanding of different research techniques
  • accuracy and attention to detail
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • excellent organisational skills
  • business and commercial awareness
  • creativity and the ability to tell a story from the data
  • problem-solving skills
  • teamwork and negotiation skills
  • project management skills
  • flexibility and drive
  • IT literacy
  • an interest in psychology and behaviour.

Work experience

Pre-entry experience in areas such as research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques is helpful. You can get relevant work experience through work placements or an internship.

Use the MRS Research Buyers Guide to look for market research agencies near you and approach them about work experience opportunities. You could also contact big client organisations with internal research teams.

Work shadowing a market researcher or doing relevant voluntary work can help build up your knowledge and skills. Experience in related areas such as marketing and advertising planning can also be useful as they often have a research component.

The MRS supports the 10,000 Interns Foundation , which includes the 10,000 Black Interns and 10,000 Able Interns programmes. These programmes provide paid work experience across a wide range of industries, including market research.

Find out more about the different kinds of  work experience and internships  that are available.

Most positions are in market research agencies or consultancies. These specialist agencies manage and oversee research projects commissioned by a range of organisations, including businesses, advertising and PR agencies, local and central government, and charities. Agencies range in size from two to several hundred employees, offering specialist or general consultancy.

Opportunities also exist client-side, where market researchers work within industrial and commercial organisations, such as manufacturing, pharmaceutical and retail companies, as well as in advertising agencies and charities. Roles in these settings may involve coordinating and contracting out the research on behalf of the company or assisting in the development of marketing strategies.

Research institutions and government departments also employ market researchers. For more information on working for local authorities or government departments, see government social research officer .

You can get details of market research agencies and consultants, as well as background information on the different sectors, from:

  • The Qualitative Research Directory
  • Research Buyers Guide

Look for job vacancies at:

  • Research Job Finder
  • Social Research Association (SRA)

Some recruitment agencies specialise in market research vacancies, such as Hasson Associates and Pollen Recruitment . Vacancies for graduates may be advertised as research assistants or as graduate trainees.

Competition for jobs is strong. It may be worth making targeted speculative applications rather than simply relying on advertised vacancies. Consider applying for market research assistant posts first to get into the sector.

Professional development

Once in post, most training is provided informally, on the job, with support from more experienced colleagues. Some larger agencies run graduate training schemes, which typically last two years. There are also a variety of external courses available, specifically designed for market research professionals.

The Market Research Society (MRS) runs training courses and offers qualifications at different levels. While you're in the first two years of your market research career, you can take the MRS Advanced Certificate in Market and Social Research Practice. Some large companies may incorporate this qualification into their graduate training programmes.

The MRS also accredits Masters degrees at Cranfield School of Management (MSc Strategic Marketing), Newcastle University Business School (MSc International Marketing) and the University of East London (MSc Marketing).

Find out more about MRS Training .

Some qualifications offered by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) may be relevant. There is also a range of relevant postgraduate courses available in statistics, marketing or social research. The Social Research Association (SRA) also runs a range of courses on topics such as survey design and quantitative data analysis.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is important and can be carried out in many ways. The MRS, for example, offers training courses covering a range of topics, as well as webinars and online training in questionnaire design and business skills. It offers a range of events and networking opportunities, some specifically designed for new and young researchers through the MRS &more - young researchers network .

With the right combination of skills, experience and training, you can gain Certified Member status (CMRS) of the MRS. As a senior professional who has made a signification contribution to the sector, you may be awarded Fellowship (FMRS).

Career prospects

You'll often start as a junior research executive, before progressing to research executive and then moving into a senior researcher role. There are some opportunities to then move into an account director position. Promotion is based on merit, professional qualifications, experience and specialism.

Responsibility for client contact, presentations, and project and team management increases with seniority, often with a corresponding decrease in the level of field work undertaken.

It's recommended that you gain a range of experience before specialising, to enhance your career development and/or job mobility later in your career.

The rapid growth of international business and developments in information technology has created worldwide opportunities in this field. With experience in your specialist area, you can progress to working as a research practitioner, either independently or in a partnership.

Once you have substantial experience and a good network of contacts, you may want to consider setting up your own consultancy or working as a freelancer.

For more information about how your career in market research could progress, see The Market Research Society - Explore roles in market research .

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The future of work after COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted labor markets globally during 2020. The short-term consequences were sudden and often severe: Millions of people were furloughed or lost jobs, and others rapidly adjusted to working from home as offices closed. Many other workers were deemed essential and continued to work in hospitals and grocery stores, on garbage trucks and in warehouses, yet under new protocols to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

This report on the future of work after COVID-19 is the first of three MGI reports that examine aspects of the postpandemic economy. The others look at the pandemic’s long-term influence on consumption and the potential for a broad recovery led by enhanced productivity and innovation. Here, we assess the lasting impact of the pandemic on labor demand, the mix of occupations, and the workforce skills required in eight countries with diverse economic and labor market models: China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Together, these eight countries account for almost half the global population and 62 percent of GDP.

Jobs with the highest physical proximity are likely to be most disrupted

Before COVID-19, the largest disruptions to work involved new technologies and growing trade links. COVID-19 has, for the first time, elevated the importance of the physical dimension of work. In this research, we develop a novel way to quantify the proximity required in more than 800 occupations by grouping them into ten work arenas according to their proximity to coworkers and customers, the number of interpersonal interactions involved, and their on-site and indoor nature.

This offers a different view of work than traditional sector definitions. For instance, our medical care arena includes only caregiving roles requiring close interaction with patients, such as doctors and nurses. Hospital and medical office administrative staff fall into the computer-based office work arena, where more work can be done remotely. Lab technicians and pharmacists work in the indoor production work arena because those jobs require use of specialized equipment on-site but have little exposure to other people (Exhibit 1).

We find that jobs in work arenas with higher levels of physical proximity are likely to see greater transformation after the pandemic, triggering knock-on effects in other work arenas as business models shift in response.

The short- and potential long-term disruptions to these arenas from COVID-19 vary. During the pandemic, the virus most severely disturbed arenas with the highest overall physical proximity scores: medical care, personal care, on-site customer service, and leisure and travel. In the longer term, work arenas with higher physical proximity scores are also likely to be more unsettled, although proximity is not the only explanation. For example:

  • The on-site customer interaction arena includes frontline workers who interact with customers in retail stores, banks, and post offices, among other places. Work in this arena is defined by frequent interaction with strangers and requires on-site presence. Some work in this arena migrated to e-commerce and other digital transactions, a behavioral change that is likely to stick.
  • The leisure and travel arena is home to customer-facing workers in hotels, restaurants, airports, and entertainment venues. Workers in this arena interact daily with crowds of new people. COVID-19 forced most leisure venues to close in 2020 and airports and airlines to operate on a severely limited basis. In the longer term, the shift to remote work  and related reduction in business travel, as well as automation of some occupations, such as food service roles, may curtail labor demand in this arena.
  • The computer-based office work arena includes offices of all sizes and administrative workspaces in hospitals, courts, and factories. Work in this arena requires only moderate physical proximity to others and a moderate number of human interactions. This is the largest arena in advanced economies, accounting for roughly one-third of employment. Nearly all potential remote work is within this arena.
  • The outdoor production and maintenance arena includes construction sites, farms, residential and commercial grounds, and other outdoor spaces. COVID-19 had little impact here as work in this arena requires low proximity and few interactions with others and takes place fully outdoors. This is the largest arena in China and India, accounting for 35 to 55 percent of their workforces.

COVID-19 has accelerated three broad trends that may reshape work after the pandemic recedes

The pandemic pushed companies and consumers to rapidly adopt new behaviors that are likely to stick, changing the trajectory of three groups of trends. We consequently see sharp discontinuity between their impact on labor markets before and after the pandemic.

Remote work and virtual meetings are likely to continue, albeit less intensely than at the pandemic’s peak

Perhaps the most obvious impact of COVID-19 on the labor force is the dramatic increase in employees working remotely. To determine how extensively remote work might persist after the pandemic, we analyzed its potential  across more than 2,000 tasks used in some 800 occupations in the eight focus countries. Considering only remote work that can be done without a loss of productivity, we find that about 20 to 25 percent of the workforces in advanced economies could work from home between three and five days a week. This represents four to five times more remote work than before the pandemic and could prompt a large change in the geography of work, as individuals and companies shift out of large cities into suburbs and small cities. We found that some work that technically can be done remotely is best done in person. Negotiations, critical business decisions, brainstorming sessions, providing sensitive feedback, and onboarding new employees are examples of activities that may lose some effectiveness when done remotely.

Some companies are already planning to shift to flexible workspaces after positive experiences with remote work during the pandemic, a move that will reduce the overall space they need and bring fewer workers into offices each day. A survey of 278 executives by McKinsey in August 2020 found that on average, they planned to reduce office space by 30 percent. Demand for restaurants and retail in downtown areas and for public transportation may decline as a result.

Remote work may also put a dent in business travel as its extensive use of videoconferencing during the pandemic has ushered in a new acceptance of virtual meetings and other aspects of work. While leisure travel and tourism are likely to rebound after the crisis, McKinsey’s travel practice estimates that about 20 percent of business travel, the most lucrative segment for airlines, may not return. This would have significant knock-on effects on employment in commercial aerospace, airports, hospitality, and food service. E-commerce and other virtual transactions are booming.

Many consumers discovered the convenience of e-commerce and other online activities during the pandemic. In 2020, the share of e-commerce grew at two to five times the rate before COVID-19 (Exhibit 2). Roughly three-quarters of people using digital channels for the first time during the pandemic say they will continue using them when things return to “normal,” according to McKinsey Consumer Pulse  surveys conducted around the world.

Other kinds of virtual transactions such as telemedicine, online banking, and streaming entertainment have also taken off. Online doctor consultations through Practo, a telehealth company in India, grew more than tenfold between April and November 2020 . These virtual practices may decline somewhat as economies reopen but are likely to continue well above levels seen before the pandemic.

This shift to digital transactions has propelled growth in delivery, transportation, and warehouse jobs. In China, e-commerce, delivery, and social media jobs grew by more than 5.1 million during the first half of 2020.

COVID-19 may propel faster adoption of automation and AI, especially in work arenas with high physical proximity

Two ways businesses historically have controlled cost and mitigated uncertainty during recessions are by adopting automation and redesigning work processes, which reduce the share of jobs involving mainly routine tasks. In our global survey of 800 senior executives  in July 2020, two-thirds said they were stepping up investment in automation and AI either somewhat or significantly. Production figures for robotics in China exceeded prepandemic levels by June 2020.

Many companies deployed automation and AI in warehouses, grocery stores, call centers, and manufacturing plants to reduce workplace density and cope with surges in demand. The common feature of these automation use cases is their correlation with high scores on physical proximity, and our research finds the work arenas with high levels of human interaction are likely to see the greatest acceleration in adoption of automation and AI.

The mix of occupations may shift, with little job growth in low-wage occupations

The trends accelerated by COVID-19 may spur greater changes in the mix of jobs within economies than we estimated before the pandemic.

We find that a markedly different mix of occupations may emerge after the pandemic across the eight economies. Compared to our pre-COVID-19 estimates, we expect the largest negative impact of the pandemic to fall on workers in food service and customer sales and service roles, as well as less-skilled office support roles. Jobs in warehousing and transportation may increase as a result of the growth in e-commerce and the delivery economy, but those increases are unlikely to offset the disruption of many low-wage jobs. In the United States, for instance, customer service and food service jobs could fall by 4.3 million, while transportation jobs could grow by nearly 800,000. Demand for workers in the healthcare and STEM occupations may grow more than before the pandemic, reflecting increased attention to health as populations age and incomes rise as well as the growing need for people who can create, deploy, and maintain new technologies (Exhibit 3).

Before the pandemic, net job losses were concentrated in middle-wage occupations in manufacturing and some office work, reflecting automation, and low- and high-wage jobs continued to grow. Nearly all low-wage workers who lost jobs could move into other low-wage occupations—for instance, a data entry worker could move into retail or home healthcare. Because of the pandemic’s impact on low-wage jobs, we now estimate that almost all growth in labor demand will occur in high-wage jobs. Going forward, more than half of displaced low-wage workers may need to shift to occupations in higher wage brackets and requiring different skills to remain employed.

As many as 25 percent more workers may need to switch occupations than before the pandemic

Given the expected concentration of job growth in high-wage occupations and declines in low-wage occupations, the scale and nature of workforce transitions required in the years ahead will be challenging, according to our research. Across the eight focus countries, more than 100 million workers, or 1 in 16, will need to find a different occupation by 2030 in our post-COVID-19 scenario, as shown in Exhibit 4. This is 12 percent more than we estimated before the pandemic, and up to 25 percent more in advanced economies (Exhibit 4).

Before the pandemic, we estimated that just 6 percent of workers would need to find jobs in higher wage occupations. In our post-COVID-19 research, we find not only that a larger share of workers will likely need to transition out of the bottom two wage brackets but also that roughly half of them overall will need new, more advanced skills to move to occupations one or even two wage brackets higher.

The skill mix required among workers who need to shift occupations has changed. The share of time German workers spend using basic cognitive skills, for example, may shrink by 3.4 percentage points, while time spend using social and emotional skills will increase by 3.2 percentage points. In India, the share of total work hours expended using physical and manual skills will decline by 2.2 percentage points, while time devoted to technological skills will rise 3.3 percentage points. Workers in occupations in the lowest wage bracket use basic cognitive skills and physical and manual skills 68 percent of the time, while in the middle wage bracket, use of these skills occupies 48 percent of time spent. In the highest two brackets, those skills account for less than 20 percent of time spent. The most disadvantaged workers may have the biggest job transitions ahead, in part because of their disproportionate employment in the arenas most affected by COVID-19. In Europe and the United States, workers with less than a college degree, members of ethnic minority groups, and women are more likely to need to change occupations after COVID-19 than before. In the United States, people without a college degree are 1.3 times more likely to need to make transitions compared to those with a college degree, and Black and Hispanic workers are 1.1 times more likely to have to transition between occupations than white workers. In France, Germany, and Spain, the increase in job transitions required due to trends influenced by COVID-19 is 3.9 times higher for women than for men. Similarly, the need for occupational changes will hit younger workers more than older workers, and individuals not born in the European Union more than native-born workers.

Companies and policymakers can help facilitate workforce transitions

The scale of workforce transitions set off by COVID-19’s influence on labor trends increases the urgency for businesses and policymakers to take steps to support additional training and education programs for workers. Companies and governments exhibited extraordinary flexibility and adaptability in responding to the pandemic with purpose and innovation that they might also harness to retool the workforce in ways that point to a brighter future of work.

Businesses can start with a granular analysis of what work can be done remotely by focusing on the tasks involved rather than whole jobs. They can also play a larger role in retraining workers, as Walmart, Amazon, and IBM have done. Others have facilitated occupational shifts by focusing on the skills they need, rather than on academic degrees. Remote work also offers companies the opportunity to enrich their diversity by tapping workers who, for family and other reasons, were unable to relocate to the superstar cities where talent, capital, and opportunities concentrated before the pandemic.

Policymakers could support businesses by expanding and enhancing the digital infrastructure. Even in advanced economies, almost 20 percent of workers in rural households lack access to the internet. Governments could also consider extending benefits and protections to independent workers and to workers working to build their skills and knowledge mid-career.

Both businesses and policymakers could collaborate to support workers migrating between occupations. Under the Pact for Skills established in the European Union during the pandemic, companies and public authorities have dedicated €7 billion to enhancing the skills of some 700,000 automotive workers, while in the United States, Merck and other large companies have put up more than $100 million to burnish the skills of Black workers without a college education and create jobs that they can fill.

The reward of such efforts would be a more resilient, more talented, and better-paid workforce—and a more robust and equitable society.

Go behind the scenes and get more insights with “ Where the jobs are: An inside look at our new Future of Work research ” from our New at McKinsey blog.

Susan Lund and Anu Madgavkar are partners of the McKinsey Global Institute, where James Manyika and Sven Smit are co-chairs and directors. Kweilin Ellingrud is a senior partner in McKinsey’s Minneapolis office. Mary Meaney is a senior partner in the Paris office. Olivia Robinson is a consultant in the London office.

This report was edited by Stephanie Strom, a senior editor with the McKinsey Global Institute, and Peter Gumbel, MGI editorial director.

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