TARGETjobs black logo
Social researchers design, manage and undertake research projects to investigate social issues such as employment, unemployment, gender, health, education and social policy.

Graduates typically enter the profession at research officer level, progressing to senior research officer level after several years' relevant experience.

What does a social researcher do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Social researchers undertake research projects to investigate a number of social issues and then report their findings. A social researcher will use a variety of methods to gather their information; this can include questionnaires, focus groups and interviews. Their survey's findings can be used to change social policies or to test the effectiveness of a current one.

Key responsibilities of the job include:

  • preparing tenders for research contracts
  • receiving instructions and project briefs from clients
  • outlining objectives
  • directing and undertaking pilot studies and fieldwork
  • collecting, analysing and interpreting qualitative and/or quantitative data
  • writing reports
  • identifying and advising about possible strategies
  • controlling budgets
  • managing staff.

Local, national and occasionally international travel may be required.

Typical employers of social researchers

  • Local authorities
  • Central government
  • Higher education establishments
  • Health authorities
  • Commercial market research organisations
  • Independent research institutes

Jobs are advertised online, in national newspapers and on the Social Research Association website. The social sciences section of Current Research in Britain provides information about higher education and independent research projects.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into social research for both university graduates and school leavers.

A good degree in any subject is acceptable for entry into the profession, although employers often require relevant qualifications in social research, business studies, mathematics or statistics. A postgraduate qualification and/or specialist knowledge may also be necessary for some positions.

Relevant practical experience, particularly research experience, is advantageous.

To find out how to get into a career in this area via a school leaver route, visit the public sector and charity section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills for social researchers

  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Communication skills
  • Numerical skills
  • IT skills
  • Analytical techniques

Next: search graduate vacancies

Supported by

This describes editorially independent and objective content, written and edited by the GTI content team, with which the organisation would like to be associated and has provided some funding in order to be so. Any external contributors featuring in the article are independent from the supporter organisation and contributions are in line with our non-advertorial policy.

Advertising feature by

This describes content that has been written and edited in close collaboration with the organisation, who has funded the feature; it is advertising. We are committed to upholding our ethical values of transparency and honesty when dealing with students and feel that this is the best way not to deceive consumers of our content. The content will be written by GTI editors, but the organisation will have had input into the messaging, provided knowledge and contributors and approved the content.

In Partnership

This content has been written or sourced by AGCAS, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, and edited by TARGETjobs as part of a content partnership. AGCAS provides impartial information and guidance resources for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.

Did you know that members with full profiles are more likely to get direct messages from employers?

Don't miss this great opportunity. Register now
Top