Qualitative market research is an important tool used by businesses to identify customer needs and people’s perception of a product with the goal of meeting those needs. This can be done by improving product lines, distribution, sales strategies and all the other things that will increase its sales and generate more profit.Educational Attainment and Skills Employers Look ForEven entry level jobs in this field favor a bachelor’s degree holder and most companies require a master’s degree for higher level positions. Although any baccalaureate degree is acceptable, there is a bachelor’s degree course that focuses on market research. Other preferred courses are degrees in statistics, mathematics or computer science. A background in economics, business administration or the social sciences adds to a more impressive resume.The Marketing Research Association, a non-profit trade organization composed of member companies, offers professional research certifications that attest to professional competency and increases your advantage over other applicants in job-seeking. There are certain criteria to be met in experience and knowledge before one can be certified. Internships and sales job experiences are helpful for a marketing career. So are exposures to work doing data analysis, writing reports and making surveys.To land a job doing qualitative research for sales, employers look for specific skills and competencies. Computer proficiency is a must since the newer methodologies in conducting market statistical studies makes extensive use of computer software. Analytical thinking skills are necessary to understand and scrutinize massive quantities of data. Communication skills involve conversing with people to gather information, interpret them and present them to clients. Other valuable capabilities are critical thinking competency and detail orientation because the work entails precise data analysis and assessment of information gathered to determine the action plans.Duties of a Qualitative Marketing ResearcherTraditional qualitative market research uses two methodologies for data gathering: focus group discussions and in-depth interviews. The former makes use of a small group of eight to ten respondents in a discussion during which their behaviors, perceptions and attitudes toward a certain topic are solicited and explored. The latter is a one-on-one interview by phone or in person for more complex issues.Modern methodologies are carried out with the use of computers. These include webcam groups, online bulletin boards, video diaries, mobile research, email surveys and other techniques that are constantly being tested. Hence, these occupations call for working, usually alone, on the computer – amassing data and assessing them and making reports. Depending on needs, longer hours of work may be required.Typical Duties of a Qualitative Marketing ResearcherThe qualitative market analyst usually works on small groups to collect large amounts of information. They communicate with respondents through the internet, by phone or in person to gain insights into their behaviors and opinions, research a topic, analyze and interpret data, and prepare reports, graphs and tables and present them to management. Their tasks include monitoring and forecasting of sales trends, measuring the effectiveness of marketing strategies, formulating plans and proposals.Most of these tasks are done using specialized statistical software, so a market specialist must have computer knowledge and learn how to use these specific programs.A market research job is challenging and mentally stimulating. It draws out a person’s creativity by discovering new ways to do things. According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage for market research analysts as of May 2011 is $67,130, with the lowest ten percent being $33, 490 and the highest ten percent at $112,560.