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Research Job Opportunities

Posted on 03 June 2009

It’s all about knowledge management.

Imagine the typical research job and tell me what you see: A room full of gene-splicing grad students in white lab coats? A towering rack of glass beakers? A bank of computer screens beckoning with blinking cursors? Nowadays, such notions are changing. The fastest growing research area is knowledge management–finding information, turning it into useful knowledge, and making it easily accessible to a business or non-profit organization.

“The knowledge management field is exploding,” says Barbara Reinhold, director of Career and Executive Development at Smith College in Massachusetts. Even though the world’s knowledge base doubles every six months, she adds, most employers are not organized enough to handle the load.

Using Information Effectively

Consider the radical and discontinuous change that has characterized the business environment since the 1990s. Brian Arthur, dean of Economics and Population Studies at Stanford University, demonstrated this trend in “Knowledge Management for the New World of Business.” Many organizations found that just sticking people in front of computers doesn’t help productivity. The key is to use information effectively and enhance the creation of knowledge.

The fastest growing research area is knowledge management–finding information and turning it into useful knowledge.

Enter the knowledge worker, who turns information into a valuable resource by interpreting it according to employer needs–even as the knowledge field evolves. New approaches (fusion, for example, or virtual management) stress the human aspect of the knowledge biz. These developments encourage people to:

  • Use individual judgment
  • Communicate across company subcultures
  • Integrate computing, telecommunications, and video technologies

Instead of pyramids or boxcars, knowledge consultant flow charts resemble mazes and whirlpools. Such creative chaos may just work to the advantage of college graduates with certain core skills.

  • Liberal arts or technical coursework
  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Ability to continually learn

puzzle lg Research Job OpportunitiesBecoming a Knowledge Worker

Their job titles may range from “research assistant” to “knowledge guru,” but researchers basically find, organize, interpret, and communicate information. They tailor their work to employer requests–financial forecasts, marketing reports, or even pork belly futures.

According to Reinhold, entry-level jobs pay between $25,000 and $30,000. Older companies typically require a BA or BS, but newer employers may value skills over a degree. Many businesses rely on consulting firms, which often have entry positions available–especially in marketing, finance, and tech. Here is a quick sample of recent job openings for knowledge workers:

  • A major venture cap firm is looking for a degreed research assistant with Microsoft Office knowledge.
  • A research tech consulting firm wants a data miner with computer and communication skills; college coursework in a technical or business field preferred, but not essential.
  • An East Coast biolab is in search of a qualified researcher; one to three years of data gathering expertise in any field is required.

Where to Look
If you can’t picture yourself searching diligently for financial, marketing, or technical information, check out research positions in a few other areas:

  • Drug addiction
  • Biomedicine
  • Labor relations
  • History
  • Psychology

Sharon Zavattaro, who works in Career Services at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, thinks the outlook in fields other than marketing or finance is fair. Those with expertise in English, journalism, library science, or history could find work almost anywhere. Those with a bachelor’s degree in math, psychology, or statistics could get involved with educational companies and organizations.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Letter-of-credit says:

    Interesting view. Politicians never get it right. Hopefully they do not meddle too much with the finance industry. Finances will take some time however, to get sorted out.

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