What Does a Research Assistant Do?
Research Assistants often work at laboratories, universities and research centers to study various topics selected by a Professor or Scientist interested in a certain subject. They help brainstorm research topics and use initial guidance to find relevant resources in libraries and archives. This involves developing research questions based on a primary Researcher’s area of study.
Research Assistants work to validate a certain hypothesis or understand the reason behind contradictory findings. They review current publications to determine what information already exists on a topic, processing large amounts of text, technical writing and primary resources. They also help conduct original research, gathering data, administering surveys and supervising experiments based on instruction from their supervisor.
Research Assistant Skills and Qualifications
Research Assistants need a wide set of skills to perform their work well. For example, they need exceptional communication skills since they need to lead interviews and communicate complex technical information in the simplest way possible. Other essential skills and qualifications include:
- Analytical and problem-solving skills
- The ability to stay calm under pressure
- Extensive knowledge in the area being researched
- Time-management skills
- The ability to empathize with others
- The ability to commit to lengthy, complex projects
Research Assistant Salary Expectations
The average salary for a Research Assistant is $16.69 an hour. Depending on the role and factors like the candidate’s experience level, education requirements and the job location, pay can vary.
Research Assistant Education and Training Requirements
Research Assistants need relevant education and training in the field they’re studying. For example, a person conducting research for a social studies project will likely be a sociology student or someone with a degree in that field.
Additional qualifications are needed depending on the specific job. For example, if the study involves lab work, the candidate will need experience handing and safely storing samples and sending materials off for analysis. Lab work also typically requires a background in a field like biology or chemistry, or at least some academic or real-world experience in that setting.
Research Assistant Experience Requirements
Most candidates will have one or more years of experience as a Research Assistant. Most of this work is gained while in school, but it’s possible that a person would start working after graduating. Relevant experience is arguably more important than length of experience though. In your job description, make sure you clarify the field and what type of work will be done. Research Assistants can come from a variety of academic backgrounds, ranging from math and science to sociology and psychology.
Job Description Samples for Similar Positions
Research Assistants have a broad range of skills, so covering everything you need for the job can be difficult. If this template doesn’t fully cover what you’re looking for, check out some descriptions for similar roles: