To work as a pollster, you’ll need some education and work experience that you can apply to the process of creating, administering, and analyzing polls. Some pollsters have advanced degrees, while others only have a bachelor’s degree and earn slightly less. One of the most important requirements is a strong interest in math, particularly statistics, as well as the ability to work with numbers quickly and accurately.
A person interested in becoming a pollster should expect to take a lot of math in college and possibly earn a bachelor’s degree in statistics. Political science and sociology are also good subjects to study. Because many pollsters work in politics, knowing political science is essential for becoming a pollster, and sociology or anthropology can teach you how to study populations, collect data, and analyze data. People interested in working on polls for marketing purposes should consider taking business and marketing classes as well.
Some people get a well-rounded undergraduate degree and apply to polling firms right away. This is one route to becoming a pollster, and it will provide immediate work experience while the future pollster is learning the ropes. Working for a polling firm allows people to learn firsthand how polling works, and as trainees gain experience and skills, they are typically trusted with more responsibilities. They may eventually advance to senior positions with polling firms.
Another possibility is to pursue a graduate degree. A graduate degree can open up more opportunities for someone who wants to work as a pollster. When first entering the job market, graduate degrees in survey methods, psychology, political science, and related fields can be used to advance to a more senior position. A would-be pollster will be well positioned for professional employment, especially if a graduate thesis delves deeper into polling methods and techniques and produces new or innovative data.
People interested in polling should consider joining a professional organization, whether they are working on election strategy or organizing opinion poll studies for new products. A pollster who is a member of a professional organization has access to the most recent developments in the field as well as a professional network of like-minded people. It also usually includes invitations to conferences and other events that can be used for professional development, which can help you get a better job.