Pollsters develop and conduct surveys for the purpose of organizing and gathering information on the opinions of individuals. Pollsters often work on behalf of political candidates, corporations, or government agencies to gage public opinion on various candidates or issues and to improve the effectiveness of public policies and decisions.
While entry-level pollsters must have a bachelor’s degree, more advanced positions often require a master’s degree. Those interested in teaching at the college level should complete a Ph.D. program. College courses should provide extensive background in conducting research, administering surveys, giving interviews, analyzing findings, and presenting data in written reports.
In addition to proper education, pollsters can gain valuable experience through internships or part-time employment with government agencies, firms, or political campaigns.
Pollsters use various methods to conduct surveys, including in-person interviews, telephone interviews, Internet questionnaires and mail-in questionnaires. Individuals in this field should have excellent communication skills, patience, and strong analytical skills. In addition to administering surveys and polls, pollsters may analyze data and present their findings to their clients.
Job applicants with a master’s degree and a strong background in marketing, social science and mathematics will have the best chances of gaining full-time employment. Individuals interested in pursuing a career in polling should gain relevant experience in carrying out the following duties:
Pollsters work regular hours with time divided among conducting surveys, writing reports and performing statistical analysis. While conducting research, pollsters may work collaboratively with other researchers and travel for in-person interviews.
The growth of employment for this field is expected to be much faster than average, at 28 percent through the year 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to a May 2008 government report, the average salary for a pollster was just over $36,000, with salaries ranging from $17,000 to over $26,000.