When Money Magazine published their list of Best Jobs in America, it was interesting to note that there was one marketing role in the Top 10: Market Research Analyst, which came in at #6. (Of course, I was also interested to see that, at one time, I had the #2 best job: College Professor.)
Money based their calculations on several factors including average salary (it had to be above $50,000 to make the list), strong projected growth in the number of positions over the next 10 years, stress levels, flexibility in hours and work environment, and creativity.
What make the job of Market Research Analyst so great? Well, the $82,000 average annual salary sure helps, as do the 16,000 average annual job openings. The hours and work environment are also fairly flexible. Money gave this role a “C” for stress, however. Deadline pressures are the main source of stress they cite. I believe that a greater source of stress is knowing that your recommendations will influence critical business decisions affecting the success or failure of the entire enterprise and could mean the difference between outrageous profits and total financial ruin. (That’s a little extreme, I know, but you get the picture.)
Money also gave Market Research Analysts a “C” for creativity, but I just don’t think that’s fair or accurate. Isn’t the work they do often comparable to that being done by college professors (who get an “A” in this category)? What is the difference between designing a study to discover why business travelers choose a particular type of hotel and designing one to identify which genes determine wing shape in fruit flies? Don’t both call for similar types of creative problem-solving within strict methodological parameters? Don’t both require high levels of data integrity and actionable (or at least rigorously verifiable) conclusions? Don’t the results of both studies have career and funding ramifications for those who conduct them?
Well, maybe the folks at Money weren’t thinking about the work done by professors of statistics or genetics when they were handing out grades for “creativity.” Maybe, instead, they had in mind the type of “research” that examines the pedagogical and aesthetic implications of vilified underground musical genres like gangsta rap.
(It should be noted that “gangsta rapper” didn’t show up on the list of best jobs. That’s probably due to the fact that, when compiling their list, Money states that they deliberately eliminated jobs featuring “dangerous work environments.”)