Typical employers of social scientists include:
Large research agencies
e.g. Ipsos Mori, Kantar, GfK.
Specialist social research organisations
e.g. NatCen Social Research, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
For a directory of organisations, searchable by sector, expertise, services of respondents, access the Research Buyers Guide.
For a list of charities, see the Charity Commission's Register of Charities and search for 'social research'.
Trade unions and pressure groups
See current list of trade unions, and current list of UK pressure groups.
Higher education institutions
e.g. large research centres such as Institute for Social and Economic Research (University of Essex), Social Policy Research Unit (University of York) and many other centres around the UK.
e.g. Government Social Research Profession, Office for National Statistics.
e.g. Local Government Association Research and Information team.
Do I need a PhD or masters?
The Social Research Association recommends that job applicants in this sector have some form of research methods training or qualification.
This could include a masters or postgraduate diploma in social research methods.
An MPhil or PhD also provides relevant experience of using research techniques and methodologies.
Typical social research and policy roles include:
Government social research officer
The Social Research Association's careers page includes a number of interviews with researchers, including useful questions such as "what was your first professional job?"
The Market Research Agency produces an online booklet, Your Career in Research, which outlines four key roles in market and social research.
- Qualitative research
- Quantitative research
The Association for Qualitative Research produces a free Graduate Pack, downloadable on request, covering topics such as qualifications required, salary information and sample case studies.
Job descriptions and requirements for social policy roles can vary widely, depending on the employer and policy area involved. 'Policy Officer' is a common entry-level job title and a Google search will allow you to investigate the requirements of currently advertised posts.
Roles are likely to involve:
- monitoring and analysing developments in the policy environment
- producing briefings and drafting publications on key issues
- providing policy input into organisational campaigns
Skills and experience required include:
- excellent knowledge of the specific policy area
- strong written and verbal communication skills
- the ability to build relationships with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders