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A research consultant is a professional responsible for gathering and analyzing information. In most cases, this kind of professional is hired by a client or sponsor and is expected to provide a detailed, conclusive report based on data analysis. To become a research consultant, your first step should be to decide in which field you would like to specialize since this decision greatly impacts the kind of preparation you should undergo. A individual who wants to become a research consultant in the marketing field, for example, might earn degrees in management, marketing, or statistics. Aspiring physics research consultants, on the other hand, should earn degrees in their respective fields.
While the specific tasks of research consultants vary among fields and industries, this kind of professional is often an expert at gathering and analyzing data to come to solve a problem. Professionals who work in marketing might use surveys and focus groups to get data. Physical scientists, on the other hand, might perform experiments. Consultants' clients or sponsors can be private businesses or public and nonprofit organizations.
In most cases, an individual who would like to become a research consultant should plan on earning a graduate degree. Individuals specializing in the physical sciences might benefit from doctorate degrees. Aspiring marketers, on the hand, might benefit from earning master's degrees then acquiring years of experience assisting established market researchers.
While studying for your degrees, you should seek a position as a research assistant. In many programs, graduates assist in research projects conducted by members of faculty. If you don't have this opportunity in school, you might try research internships at local firms. These early opportunities often are valuable introductions to general research practices and challenges.
Once you have earned necessary degrees, the path you take to become a research consultant depends on the field in which you want to work. Individuals interested in working in the private sector should compose resumes and cover letters. Each of these documents should be about a page in length and should act as employers' introductions to your skills, experience, and interest in a specific position. Since the role of research consultant is likely to vary, make sure to customize these documents to meet the needs of potential employers.
If you would like to become a research consultant who works for a university or other public institution, you might instead search for grants and other kinds of funding. Many researchers continue on in schools where they earned their graduate degrees. Others might take government positions. Instead of resumes and cover letters, these researchers might distribute curricula vitae and statements of purpose.