How to Become a Research Analyst (With a Step-by-Step Guide)

Updated 3 April 2023

Research analysts can provide businesses with market data to enable more informed decision-making. A research analyst studies market trends and provides financial information to companies and clients. If you're passionate about business marketing and have an interest in mathematics and computer data, becoming a research analyst can be a rewarding career choice. In this article, we explain what a research analyst does, describe how to become a research analyst and note the skills and salary of the role, along with some similar careers.

What is a research analyst?

A research analyst is a finance specialist who gathers data and provides reports on the different financial avenues that a business has, so understanding the common duties of the job is essential to learn how to become a research analyst. The financial avenues that most research analysts seek to support within businesses include any investments in stocks and securities, along with the company's internal assets. A research analyst can work in the financial department of a company, on behalf of a private client or within a financial firm.

A research analyst is typically knowledgeable about economic principles and theories, which they may use to examine the consumer market by gathering public data about specific companies, securities and stocks. They can then present this accumulated data to the company or the client they currently work for, utilising the information to offer recommendations on financial investments to facilitate a more informed decision-making process.

How to become a research analyst

Learning how to become a research analyst can help you effectively prepare to meet the qualifications, skills and professional training experiences required for this role. Not only may these experiences help you gain initial employment within the industry, but they may also help to facilitate career advancements as you progress. You can use the five steps in the guide below to help you begin your career as a research analyst:

1. Research the industry to gain a technical insight

To become a research analyst, it may help to have a good understanding of the investment process and knowledge of different financial and investment strategies. By researching different finance areas, you can gain valuable insight into the technical aspects of the industry. Having a basic understanding of technical skills and developing an interest in the financial industry are likely to help you if you apply for a university degree, which may be essential for gaining employment as a research analyst.

You can try reading books on investing and financial strategy or searching the Internet to find out more information. Attending an investing seminar or workshop to gain knowledge from an industry expert is also a good idea. You may also want to find out about the average job hours, pay rates or job satisfaction levels for a research analyst to ensure you know what to expect from the role.

Related: How to Become a Social Researcher (With Duties and Salary)

2. Earn a Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject

Most advertised positions are likely to require a university degree in a relevant field. Possessing this qualification shows employers that you have the knowledge and commitment to produce a high standard of work independently while demonstrating that you have developed your technical skill set in an academic setting. Consider earning a Bachelor's degree in mathematics, economics or business to develop skills that may be desirable when working in the job of a research analyst.

A Bachelor's university degree typically takes between three and four years to complete, depending on your specific course and university. Some employers and financial firms may also require you to get a Master's degree in business administration. You can apply for this course once you complete your Bachelor's degree if you wish to do so. A Master's degree typically takes between one and two years to complete.

Related: 25 Careers in Economics (With Duties and Salaries)

3. Apply for internships and work experience in the industry

An internship is a time in which an individual works for an organisation in their prospective career field to gain relevant skills and practical experience. It may be beneficial to take part in internships while you're completing your Bachelor's or Master's degree as this may help you gain employment more quickly, though you can also take internships after you have graduated.

Internships are a great opportunity to build a professional network to help keep you connected to other individuals working in the field. It may be helpful to develop a network throughout your career to gain career opportunities, build meaningful relationships and learn about the latest industry updates. It's important to note that internships may be paid or unpaid, so consider this when applying. For research analysts specifically, gaining work experience through internships is crucial as it's one of the essential requirements for earning a chartered financial analyst certification.

Related: What Is an Internship: Everything You Need To Know

4. Gain a chartered financial analyst certification

A chartered financial analyst (CFA) certification is a globally recognised qualification that may enhance your technical skills and expand your career opportunities. To be eligible to apply for the certification examination, you require either a Bachelor's degree, 4,000 hours of work experience or to be a university student in your final year of study.

You can earn a CFA certification after you complete a chartered financial analyst program and pass a three-part test. You take each component of the three-part exam separately and you can only take the next test if you pass the last one. The CFA certification may also require you to join the CFA Institute and submit letters of recommendation.

5. Apply for full-time positions

You may now apply for full-time positions as a research analyst. During this stage, you may write cover letters, complete skill tests and attend job interviews. Ensure that your resume includes all your relevant skills, qualifications and work experience that have helped you prepare for a future career as a research analyst.

You can look for available positions online using the Indeed Job Board and tailor your search specifically to your location by entering your postcode.

Related: What to Include in a Resume

What skills do you need to become a research analyst?

Research analysts require a dynamic skill set to succeed in their daily tasks, with soft skills being just as important as technical knowledge. If you want to become a talented research analyst, consider developing the following skills:

  • strong understanding of financial mathematics

  • ability to recognise patterns and trends

  • knowledge of consumer psychology and behaviour

  • verbal and written communication

  • attention to detail

  • organisational skills

  • ability to work under pressure

  • time management skills

  • ability to accept constructive feedback for improvement

How much does a research analyst make?

The average annual salary for a research analyst is $81,911 per year. This figure is likely to vary depending on your experience, qualification levels and your specific employer. Regional location may also affect your income because of potential differences in living costs. As you grow in your career as a research analyst and move to more senior positions, you may increase your average salary rates. The average annual salary for a senior research analyst is $110,907 per year.

Similar careers to a research analyst

Here is a list of three different career paths that perform similar duties and require similar skill sets and qualifications to those of a research analyst position:

1. Data analyst

National average salary: $91,500 per year
Primary duties: Data analysts collect, interpret and relay financial data to stakeholders or companies in a way that is easier to understand. Data analysts use this information to answer data-related questions and solve financial problems. Using interpreted data to justify their reasoning, a data analyst can guide a business to improve through better strategies.

Read more: What Does a Data Analyst Do? (With Skills and Career Steps)

2. Research consultant

National average salary: $97,331 per year

Primary duties: One of a research consultant's primary responsibilities is to conduct in-depth research into specific areas of their industry for analysis and presentation. Research consultants then may present these findings to a company or external stakeholder to help facilitate more informed decision-making. A research consultant can use this research to provide clients with answers to questions and help them solve problems.

Related: Understanding Consulting as a Career: Types and Benefits

3. Marketing consultant

National average salary: $63,731 per year

Primary duties: Using marketing consultants, businesses can market their brand and products in a way that suits current consumer behaviour. To do this, a marketing consultant tracks and analyses patterns of consumption within their client's industry. Using this information, a marketing consultant can then create a tailored business plan aimed at increasing sales for their client's company. A marketing consultant may also work on brand campaigns to produce content for different platforms.

Related: How to Become a Market Analyst: With Step-Guide and Salary

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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