What Does an Education Researcher Do? (Plus Salary and FAQ)

Updated September 30, 2022

An education researcher is a professional who conducts research to develop and further teaching and learning methods and strategies. If you enjoy conducting research and compiling reports and would like to work in education, a job as an education researcher may be an ideal fit for you. Understanding what a professional in this role does, how much they earn and how to become one can help guide you on your journey toward obtaining this job.

In this article, we explain what an education researcher is, review what they do, explore what skills they have, give you a step-by-step guide to how to become one, discover their typical salary and see some answers to frequently asked questions about the job.

What is an education researcher?

An education researcher is a professional who uses their expertise to conduct research on education and learning-related methods, techniques and strategies. Professionals in this role are typically those who are knowledgeable about both research studies and education. Typically, education researchers collect and analyze data they find from a variety of sources, including reports, focus groups, individual interviews, magazines, studies, journals, classroom observations and site tours. They typically use their expertise to design surveys and conduct focus group tests that relate to educational research.

Related: What a Researcher's Work Is and How To Become One

What does an education researcher do?

Education researchers have a variety of primary duties that they complete daily, but these duties may vary slightly by employer. Common education researcher duties include:

  • Selecting topics to research: Education researchers often have the opportunity to choose specific education-related topics to research. They may also receive research requests from their employers.

  • Designing research plans: Creating a plan to follow when conducting research projects is important in this role. These plans typically include detailed steps, deliverables, budgets and timelines for the project.

  • Collecting data: Gathering the data for the research project is an essential step to complete before you can actually start analyzing information. Education researchers use different data collection methods, such as surveys, interviews, questionnaires and experiments to gather this information.

  • Making reports: Education researchers periodically create detailed reports on the progress of their research projects to inform superiors and keep records of their own work. These reports typically include information about budget, deliverables and findings.

  • Analyzing data: After collecting the data needed for the project, you analyze it to find patterns, develop statistics, form questions and gain understandings of different concepts. After you do this, you typically conduct self-audits to double-check your data.

  • Recording findings: Once you've produced your research findings, you compile these results in a manner that's easy to interpret in a cohesive document. You may present these findings to superiors and stakeholders.

Related: What Can You Do With a Doctorate in Education? (10 Jobs To Consider)

What skills does an education researcher have?

Typically, education researchers have a variety of hard skills, which are technical and quantifiable skills, in addition to soft skills, which are skills largely based on character and personality. Common education researcher skills include:

Planning skills

Any type of project requires extensive planning. For education researchers, having the skills to plan out detailed projects is important. You typically consider deliverables, budget, resources and expectations when planning a research project, so having advanced planning skills is essential in executing a thorough research project.

Data handling skills

The primary responsibility of an education researcher is to collect and analyze data, so having excellent data handling skills is essential to succeeding in the role. A successful education researcher can identify relevant data, sort through large amounts of data and determine the best way or organize and archive this information. You may use data handling, sorting and organization programs and software to assist with this.

Related: Data Management Skills: Definition and Examples

Information technology skills

Education researchers typically use computers to conduct their work. Having information technology skills, or IT skills, allows you to use programs and software that can help you create documents, use spreadsheets and analyze data online. It also ensures that you're up-to-date on all education-related technology.

Related: 12 IT Skills You Need Now and How To Improve Them

Collaboration skills

It's common for education researchers to work closely with other professionals. Typically, research projects require collaboration between a number of different people, including other researchers, managers, professionals in other fields and research assistants. Having excellent collaboration skills allow you to have positive interactions with others while working.

Related: Collaboration Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become an education researcher

Becoming an education researcher can be a straightforward process if you follow these steps:

1. Pursue a bachelor's degree

Typically, education researchers have a minimum of a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. You may consider pursuing a B achelor of Science in clinical research to earn the knowledge and skills needed to pursue education research. You can also consider pursuing a degree in education to learn more about the general field. It's possible that you may benefit from pursuing a dual degree or double major in education and clinical research.

2. Gain research work experience

Many hiring managers prefer to hire job candidates who have at least some practical work experience in a research role. Having this experience ensures that you have the knowledge to succeed in an education research role and understand how a workplace functions. You may gain this experience by pursuing entry-level research roles. You can also gain this work experience by undergoing research internships or through shadowing current research professionals.

Related: Evidence-Based vs. Research-Based Programs: Definitions and Differences

3. Consider additional certifications

You may find it beneficial to earn additional certifications as an education researcher. Doing so can expand your knowledge of both the research and the education fields. Earning additional certifications can also enhance your resume and communicate your abilities and skills to hiring managers.

4. Apply for positions

After you've earned the education and work experience needed for a job, you may begin to apply for education researcher roles. You may find these positions by viewing listings on job posting sites.

You may also find it helpful to attend professional networking events to connect with others in the education research field. These connections may be able to refer you to companies seeking education researchers. Additionally, you can reach out to research companies directly to learn if they have any open positions. Even if they don't have any at that time, they may keep your information for future reference.

Related: Popular Careers in Education You Can Pursue

Education researcher salary

At this time, an education researcher earns a national average salary of $53,558 per year. It's common for education researchers to work in a full-time capacity. This specific salary that you earn as an education research may vary based on a number of factors, including:

  • If you receive performance bonuses

  • If you're a part-time or full-time employee

  • If your compensation is based on certain terms, like completion of certain research studies

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link(s) provided.

Related: 9 Careers in Educational Leadership (With Tips for Finding Them)

FAQs about education researcher

Here are some answers to common questions about becoming an education researcher:

Do you need a master's degree to be an education researcher?

It's not necessary to earn a master's degree to become an education researcher, but having this degree is fairly common for the role. It's important to note that you may find increased employment opportunities if you have this additional credential. The additional knowledge you earn by pursuing a master's program may appeal to potential employers.

Related: How To Avoid Researcher Bias (With Types and Examples)

How do you decide if you want to be an education researcher?

Deciding if you'd like to be an education researcher can be a simple process if you consider a few factors. For one, you may consider if you enjoy conducting research. You may also consider whether you're passionate about furthering the education field. Another factor you may consider when determining if you'd like to be an education research is if you have the skills required for the role or, if you don't, are interested in developing these skills.

Can you specialize in a type of education research?

You can choose a special focus for your education research. For instance, if you're passionate about special education, you may choose to focus your research on special education techniques and strategies. Selecting a specific focus for your education research can create more fulfilling work.

Related: 15 Research Careers You Can Pursue

Where do education researchers work?

Education researchers can work at a variety of establishments. Commonly, you find jobs for researchers in this specialty at the following entities:

  • Universities and colleges

  • Government agencies

  • Nonprofit organizations

  • K-12 school districts

  • Private companies


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