About the Industry

Research / Project / Account Manager

Add confidence and a year or two more to an SRE and you get this level, and often get a big pay rise, as above. Researchers are expected to have picked up a good deal of commercial nous. If they're agency/supply side (three to six years' experience is typical) this allows them to handle clients with a reasonable degree of confidence, from the beginning of projects to the end - and they should also be looking for opportunities to sell more, whether it's a follow-up, a spin-off or something entirely new that comes up in conversation. If they're client side, their experience (probably 4 to 7 years) will allow them to identify business needs and discuss them with their internal clients (ie those in other departments of their company with an interest in the research); assess suppliers and potential suppliers - and deal at some level with contracts; oversee progress; and help apply findings to the business afterwards.

Beware of the job title Project Manager - this can be used to indicate someone at this level on the supply side, and frequently is; but it can also indicate anyone from school-leaver upwards who is tasked with administering any kind of project, and it's entirely wrong to depend on it, or on Job Titles generally. Nevertheless we do use it alongside Research Manager and Account Manager (the latter itself covering a spectrum from pure business development through to roles identical to project or research managers).

In recent years (the last ten maybe) an increasing number of suppliers have developed roles with more operations in them and less client management, giving the everyday running and monitoring of projects over to one set of staff and (in the words of many a job ad) 'freeing up execs to focus on the juicy bits', ie client contact, defining needs, analysing findings and turning them into business action plans. The new more operations-focused roles are not pure fieldwork management, and fill a grey area between field and 'execs' / SREs and RMs. Companies that focus on online / panel-based research are somewhat more likely to recruit for such positions, there being no traditional fieldwork management involved this means there's no space for a fieldwork manager but there is a need for someone to set up and monitor data collection. We added an 'operations / panel management' category around a decade ago, but tend to assess these positions very much on an individual basis and most are coded either as Ops / Field Management or Ops / exec depending on the emphasis.

In Australia, what's called a Project Director is often in the above category, whereas in the UK it's rarely used but can indicate someone more senior, like an Associate Director. In the US, it covers a multitude of levels from fresh grad up to VP.

Other levels:

JRE / Entry Level
Research Exec
SRE / Analyst
AD or Vice President
Director / SVP and above

Or jump to

Career Paths
Salaries and salary trends
Skills in the Sector

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All articles in the 'About the Industry' section written by Nick Thomas of MrWeb during July - October 2017, and © MrWeb Ltd 2017. Thanks to GRIT, ESOMAR, the AMA and the MRS for stats and tables used.

About the industry - contents...

1. What is MR and how is it changing?

A comprehensive guide to what we do, how it's changing, and who else does similar stuff.

2. The global industry today

The supply side: revenues, rankings and company info, full listings.

3. Careers in MR

An introduction to the career ladder, activities, salaries and choices.