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The Top Skills for a Research Analyst

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Research analysts, as the name implies, perform research and analyze problems. Operations research analysts are generalists who might work in a variety of businesses and industries, while market research analysts focus on market conditions to help determine why people buy products or services and how to encourage them to do so. Both types of analysts need some specific skills, with mathematical skills at the top of the list.

Making Sense of Data

Math and computer skills are vitally important to research analysts, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Analysts collect data from surveys, questionnaires and market research, as well as organizational information, such as financial data, customer or employee satisfaction, quality improvement findings and strategic initiatives. Research analysts review the information, use it to create projections and presentations and calculate how changes in the organization's operations might affect products, services or customers. They also interpret the data for their customers and may need to organize it in charts, graphs or flowcharts to help people grasp concepts or understand details.

Brain Work

Research analysts deal with data -- sometimes in large quantities. They must be able to understand and interpret it, as well as be able to forecast possible trends. They need critical-thinking skills to evaluate the quality of the information they study, determine its relevance, and evaluate the costs and benefits of solutions and actions to make a recommendation. Precise data analysis is a common activity, for which these researchers need strong attention to detail and the ability to organize the data in ways that make it easier to understand.

Plays Nice with Others

Market research and operations analysts often work in teams or with groups of people, such as senior managers or clients. They should have strong interpersonal skills to work with a variety of people and to convince their clients or the management team to accept their recommendations. Analysts must be able to present the results of the research in clear terminology other people can understand. Communication skills help them present information or results, interpret findings and discuss the details. For similar reasons, they should be able to write clearly and explain complex information.

Scanning the World

In addition to data from their own organization, research analysts must be alert to information from outside sources. Changes in a competitor's business practices or leadership, as well as global economic or business activity, can affect an organization. The analyst must take such changes into account when making her forecasts and recommendations. She will review news sources, competitors' annual reports, and information from a wide variety of sources outside an organization's walls for information and integrate relevant data with internal sources to supply creative solutions to complex problems.