What Is A Research Associate? (And How To Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Research associates are business professionals who collect and analyse information from primary and secondary resources to find solutions. They play an important role in helping leaders and decision-makers in organisations to manage company products and services. Understanding the role of a research associate can help you decide if you want to choose this as your career. In this article, we discuss what is a research associate, explain the process of becoming one, take a look at the required skill set and explore the difference between a research assistant and a research associate.

What is a research associate?

A research associate conducts research related to businesses, organisational strategies, market conditions and economics in general. They typically work in research departments and use diverse forms of data to assist decision-making processes in businesses. Their industry of expertise could be in law, investment banking, industries, investment macroeconomic business factors, mergers, acquisitions, market research or IPOs. Research associates usually work in banks, asset management companies, consultancy firms or financial and insurance companies. They are pivotal to business decisions related to expansion, investment and sustainability.

Related: What Is A Research Analyst? (Duties And Qualifications)

What is the role of a research associate?

The role of research associates consists of the following duties:

  • conducting research to boost sales and investments that increase profits

  • researching products, services and offerings from the perspective of consumers and investors

  • curating research-backed recommendations to enhance the buying, selling and holding actions of companies

  • converting disorganised market information into structured research reports with citations and business model suggestions

  • conducting time-sensitive analysis to avoid any investment advice that may become irrelevant in the short-run

  • generating information that prompts senior leaders to take important actions

  • researching fresh products and instruments that improve the feasibility and flexibility of common business company practices

What is the salary of a research associate?

The average salary of a research associate is ₹31,961 per month, and the average salary of a research associate in New Delhi is ₹40,097 per month, which is the highest in the country. The salary of a research analyst may vary significantly based on their expertise and field of specialisation. Furthermore, the industry where they work may also influence how much they make.

What is the difference between a research assistant and a research associate?

A research associate requires greater education and professional experience as compared to a research assistant. While a bachelor's degree is usually sufficient to apply as a research assistant, you require more specialised degrees to work as a research associate in most companies. Most importantly, a research assistant simply supports a business or market research group and assists them in analysing data and creating reports. Research associates have greater responsibilities and may even lead research teams in organisations.

Related: What Is An Investment Banker? Definition And Career Advice

How do I become a research associate?

Follow these steps to become a research associate:

1. Complete your secondary education

Completing your senior secondary education (10+2) in either arts, commerce or science is the first step to becoming a research associate. Naturally, opting for subjects related to commerce, like accounting, economics and business administration, is useful. The examinations, along with the major project report of your secondary education, can help in developing a range of basic research skills.

2. Acquire an undergraduate degree

Acquiring an undergraduate degree in either an economics, engineering, business or finance discipline can help you learn fundamental business concepts. You may also take up independent research projects and internships to get exposure and experience in the corporate domain. You can also choose your specialisation during this period as per your interests and liking.

3. Get a master's degree

A master's degree makes you a specialised professional and equips you with the right skills to become a successful research associate with strong business acumen. You get exposure to contemporary research practices and models, alongside getting more specialised knowledge in niche business functions. Additionally, completing a master's degree helps hiring managers notice you when you submit job applications and can result in a higher salary than your peers.

It is not necessary to have a PhD to become a business research associate. Having a PhD and conducting research on topics related to business, management, economics and finance has a greater likelihood of increasing your career prospects.

4. Find an internship

Look for research-based internships in your preferred industry. Ideally, look for ones having a direct connection between the internship role and the company to your field of specialisation, be it economics, finance, investment or business. Besides giving you practical knowledge and skills, internships are a great way to expand your professional network and work under the guidance of mentors. Developing connections with industry leaders and experts can help strengthen your research and analytical skills and can also be extremely valuable during your job search.

5. Apply for jobs

Your resume has to reflect your skills, achievements and experience. Include your educational qualifications, research papers, internship experience and other business projects to demonstrate your expertise. Remember to write a short summary for each research project you have been a part of. Finally, make sure to highlight your skills and customise the job application for each employment opportunity based on the business domain you are applying for. You can leverage your professional network to find suitable opportunities and search for relevant jobs on job search portals and aggregators.

Related: Guide: Using Indeed.com Job Search

Skills required to become a research associate

Prospective research associates have to be proficient in the following skills:

Data management

Based on the type of research you undertake, you may have to collect and analyse different types and forms of data. Irrespective of the types of data you collect, being well-versed with data collection, management, storage and cleaning processes is helpful. This supports research-based data analysis practices and helps create an organised database that simplifies the job of senior researchers and lead consultants.

Make sure data storage happens in a structured manner and analysing it is a simple process. Whether it is a paper-based or electronic data collection system, design the database framework to ease the future reference process during your research project.

Related: 10 Valuable Data Analysis Skills

Project management

Apart from an actionable step-by-step guide that assists you in reaching your end goal, it would help if you showcased high-quality planning. Make sure to set reasonable milestones for your research team and decide on key performance indicators (KPIs) after undertaking thorough research methodologies. Also, account for all resources in the form of time, money and workforce, as they are all imperative to managing research projects during business processes.

Being a research associate, you have to research intently and give clear, meaningful conclusions. These conclusions in your research help simplify the decision-making process for senior leaders and have real-world consequences on business performance. Also, keep track of deadlines and every team member's progress with respect to their tasks.

Budget management

If you have completed your PhD, then budget management may come to you naturally. If not, gain some experience doing so as it helps you handle any personal research activities on behalf of the business you are representing. As a research associate, you may have to undertake research activities on a limited budget and learn how to allocate it in the best possible manner. It is your responsibility to put the allotted budget to its most effective and efficient use.

It is important for research associates to know about the different tools and strategies of data collection and analysis, alongside their return on investment. Furthermore, maintaining records, receipts and other documents may also be necessary.

Strong inter-team communication

Research associate work usually involves collaborating with reputed consultants, data managers, administrative teams and a series of high-level professionals. As a research associate, you may have to participate in several inter-departmental meetings and coordinate research projects across the sales, marketing and accounting functions.

Having good communication, reporting and presentation skills is important for research associates. In addition to being excellent speakers, they may also have to be effective listeners to understand subjects and client and customer expectations. Similarly, they may have to provide and receive feedback from diverse stakeholders. This also requires strong communication skills, trust and cohesion with colleagues from other teams and departments.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.

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