Research consultants conduct specialised and targeted research on behalf of a client and produce a final analysis of key findings. They are normally experts in a particular field, sometimes scientific, who can provide reports in areas the company's full-time staff cannot.
For example, a pharmaceutical company may hire a consultant to conduct research into existing patients who will then report back on their findings, while the company's scientists focus on product development.
Another example would be a specialist marketing research consultant who would supply reports on market research to the client company so it can make informed strategy decisions.
The skills you need
To become a top research consultant, you must have a strong level of expertise in your field. For a scientific role, having a masters degree in a related subject to the role is often necessary. The firm is looking to build and maintain expertise which enables large corporations and governments to trust them with important research.
A scientific, tech or statistical background is likely to help, as many of the roles suit people with these degrees. Firms look for good analytical and presentation skills, as you’ll be required to concisely and clearly communicate your findings to clients. Having a good understanding of statistics and data collection will also give you the upper hand.
If you’re worried about being overwhelmed, don’t panic. Firms will give you in-depth training to boost your expertise. You’ll be learning from experts in a field, so you’ll have a unique opportunity to develop your skills.
How much will you earn?
Research consulting doesn’t pay as well as management or strategic consulting as a graduate. You can expect a starting salary of between £20,000 and £25,000 depending on the role and location. However, as you become more specialised your potential earnings can significantly increase. Plus, you have the opportunity to really drill down into an area of research which really interests you.
Which firms offer research consulting roles?
For market research, Millward Brown, Ipsos Mori and GfK are great go-to-places for graduates. Cogonolink specialises in the finance sector (and featured in the 2014 Times Top 100 Great Place to Work).