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To become a pollster, it is necessary to receive some education and professional experience which can be applied to the process of creating, administering, and analyzing polls. Some pollsters hold graduate degrees, while others stop with an undergraduate education, and tend to earn slightly less. One of the key requirements is an interest in math, especially statistics, and an ability to work quickly and accurately with numbers.
Someone who wants to become a pollster should plan on taking a lot of math in college, and possibly receiving an undergraduate degree in statistics. It is also advisable to study topics like political science and sociology. Many pollsters work in politics, making an understanding of political science important to become a pollster, and sociology or anthropology provides information about how to study populations, how to collect data, and how to analyze data. Psychology classes can be helpful as well, and people interested in working on polls for marketing purposes should consider taking business and marketing classes.
Some people take a well rounded undergraduate degree and apply immediately to polling companies. This is one way to become a pollster, and will provide immediate work experience while the future pollster trains. Working for a polling company provides people with opportunities to learn about how polling works first hand, and as trainees gain experience and skills, they will typically be trusted with more work. Eventually, they may attain senior positions with polling companies.
Another option is to consider earning a graduate degree. Having a graduate degree can widen the options for someone who wants to become a pollster. Graduate degrees in survey methods, psychology, political science, and related fields can be used to enter a more senior position when starting in the job market. Especially if a graduate thesis delves more deeply into polling methods and techniques and comes up with new or innovative information, a would-be pollster will be well positioned for professional employment.
People who are interested in being involved in polling, whether they are working on election strategy or organizing opinion poll studies for new products, should plan on joining a professional organization. Being a member of a professional organization provides a pollster with access to the latest progress in the field as well as a professional network of like-minded people. It also usually comes with invitations to conferences and other events that can be used for professional development, which may increase employability.
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