Whether you’re seasoned in your career or just starting out, getting a certification in market research is an important step in your path if you work in market research, UX, product design, or quantitative research.
The great news about market research certifications is that it doesn’t matter whether you studied business or marketing (or even psychology) in college: Most people who wind up working in marketing research found their way into the career via job experiences and mentors. There are numerous companies that offer market research certifications, so if you’re evaluating programs, you’ll first have to decide on a few criteria.
In this blog, we’ll break down the differences between the various types of university training programs, online certifications, and in-person qualitative research training courses.
University training certifications
Numerous universities offer certifications in market research. These courses are typically for professionals already in their career, and students who take the courses don’t have to be enrolled at the university to attend. Most are now held online, and coursework ranges in the time commitment, but it’s typically anywhere from 4-weeks to a semester. These courses typically outline theory and best practices, but because they’re done online, they don’t give students real-world experience and feedback in a business setting.
- Can be done online for busy professionals
- Great for people who are interested in learning the theories of market research, as well as understanding case-studies
- Certificate from a university
- If done online, no real-world experience in interviewing participants with coaching and feedback.
- A lengthy time commitment
- Mandatory participation, tests, and a minimum score to pass
- Professors may only have academic, versus business experience
- Can be expensive, depending on the school
Online certifications, taught by research firms and training companies
If you’re looking for market research certification programs, you’ll undoubtedly come across numerous online companies that offer training. These can range from a few days to months, and there is also a mix of types of instruction (pre-recorded versus live), as well as the quality of instructors and material. If you’re looking for some tips and tricks, these types of online courses are great – and they do offer certifications – but bear in mind that online courses are not going to be as robust with the coaching, real-world practice, and dynamic that comes from live classes. However, if you’re looking to touch-up on your skills or learn new practices, they can be a great option. Keep in mind that if you’re trying to become a focus group moderator, qualitative researcher, or research analyst, these courses won’t be extensive enough to give you the training and feedback that is necessary to learn and practice with real participants.
- Can be done online, at your pace
- Can be inexpensive, for example 2-hour training modules on training sites like Coursera
- Online versus in-person training means that you won’t be coached, mentored, or learn how to study body language (a key skill in moderating)
- Not great for people who have a hard time paying attention to online
- Mix of instructor quality – research carefully who is teaching
- Research training that is done out of context and doesn’t expose students to dynamic research environments where research is conducted
- Some courses, like those at Burke and RIVA, are still the same price whether they’re done online or in-person
In-person market research certification courses
The last type of market research certification courses that are offered are those that are done in-person, typically over the course of consecutive days. These courses offer instruction (usually) by market research professionals, as opposed to academic professors. The in-person aspect means that students will get feedback, mentoring, and coaching – which is essential for those who are interested in qualitative interviewing, moderating, and facilitating. If you’re searching for in-person market research certification programs, make sure you look for ones that include actual research scenarios: For example, moderating with real participants, or homework based on actual research scenarios. Furthermore, since research technology is so essential for qualitative researchers, look for courses that also embed research technology training into the core coursework.
- Real-life instruction, with coaching, feedback, and realistic scenarios
- Training done in more realistic research settings, such as focus group facilities
- Typically conducted by research professionals, versus academics
- More conducive to learning ideation and brainstorming exercises, since the group is together and can interact more freely
- Can be completed in a week, versus stretched out over numerous days and weeks
- If not held in a city close by, travel will be involved
- Participants will have to take time off of work (4-5 days) to complete coursework
- Not great for those on a very limited budget (under $1000)
We hope this was a helpful checklist for you to go through as you compare various market research certification programs!