Job Search

Research Analyst vs. Data Analyst: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A career in data and research analysis can be both exciting and rewarding. If you’re interested in pursuing this type of work, you may be wondering whether a research analyst or data analyst position is right for you. Both roles require strong analytical and critical thinking skills, but there are some key differences between the two.

In this article, we compare and contrast research analysts and data analysts, discussing the duties, skills and education required for each position. We also provide an overview of the job outlook for these careers and offer tips for those interested in pursuing a data or research analyst role.

What is a Research Analyst?

Research Analysts conduct research on a variety of topics to generate reports that help businesses make informed decisions. They use a variety of data sources, including surveys, interviews, financial reports, and data from market research firms, to gather information. They then analyze this data to identify trends and patterns that can be used to make predictions about future market conditions. Research Analysts typically specialize in a particular industry or sector, such as healthcare, technology, or finance. They often work for consulting firms, market research firms, or investment banks.

What is a Data Analyst?

Data Analysts collect, process and analyze large sets of data to identify trends, correlations and other patterns. They use statistical techniques and software programs to clean and organize data for further analysis. Data Analysts present their findings to company leaders in the form of reports, charts and visualizations. They may also create dashboards to help managers track key performance indicators. Data Analysts typically have a background in mathematics, statistics or computer science. They must be able to effectively communicate their findings to non-technical staff and management.

Research Analyst vs. Data Analyst

Here are the main differences between a research analyst and a data analyst.

Job Duties

A research analyst works for a specific client, often in a laboratory setting. They conduct independent studies to determine the effectiveness of certain products or services. These professionals use the data they collect to develop new methods for improving products and services.

Data analysts work for companies that use data to inform business decisions. These professionals may work for a specific department or on projects throughout the entire company. Data analysts use the data researchers provide to help decision makers understand how to proceed with future plans.

Job Requirements

Research analysts and data analysts typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in a field like mathematics, statistics, computer science or economics. However, some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree. Data analysts might also benefit from pursuing certifications in specific software programs they will use on the job, such as SAS or SQL.

Both research analysts and data analysts should be able to effectively communicate their findings to those who are not as familiar with the data. They should also be able to work well independently and as part of a team. Strong problem-solving skills are essential for both positions, as analysts will often need to find creative solutions to complex issues.

Work Environment

Research analysts typically work in an office setting, but they may also travel to meet with clients and conduct interviews. They spend most of their time sitting at a desk or table and typing on a computer. Data analysts usually work in an office environment as well, but they may also visit different locations to collect data. These professionals often spend long hours working, especially when preparing for projects.

Both research and data analysts can work during evenings and weekends depending on the needs of their employer. Research analysts may have more flexibility in their schedules because they don’t need to travel as much as data analysts do.


Both research analysts and data analysts use analytical skills to examine data and draw conclusions from their findings. They also both need to be able to effectively communicate their findings to others, whether they are presenting their results to clients or colleagues.

However, research analysts typically focus more on qualitative data, while data analysts usually focus on quantitative data. This means that research analysts may spend more time conducting interviews or surveys to gather information, while data analysts may spend more time working with numbers and statistics. Additionally, research analysts may need to have strong writing skills to prepare reports of their findings, while data analysts may need to be proficient in programming languages to develop software that can help them analyze data more effectively.


The average salary for a research analyst is $68,414 per year, while the average salary for a data analyst is $75,765 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the type of company you work for, your level of experience and your location.


Office Coordinator vs. Office Administrator: What Are the Differences?

Back to Job Search

Purchasing Agent vs. Buyer: What Are the Differences?