If you have discovered that you are a data nut, including looking at testing theories and identifying patterns, then a career as a researcher is for you. Beyond just having those critical thinking and analytical skills, you need to be able to look, do, and handle all aspects of the position or industry you are working within. Whether it is scientific and medical research, business or marketing research, or social science research, you have a lot of job options now available that have not been available to other generations.

That’s because so much of today’s global business environment is fixated on data, specifically big data, which holds the key – and answers – necessary to make better strategic decisions and more effectively address target audiences. According to a Mashable article, “The Hottest Sectors for Big Data Growth are Ad Tech, Financial Services, E-Commerce and Social Media.” If you are looking to get into this field, the same article noted that there is increasing demand for “data engineers who can code, utilize data analytics, and manipulate for marketing purposes,” including data scientists who are capable of integrating this big data into a company’s IT department and business functions.

Market research is another promising field, according to U.S. News and World Report, which predicts a 31.6 percent employment increase between 2012 and 2022 along with 131,500 new job openings with research companies, colleges, and government agencies.

Typically, these jobs provide a salary of between $60,000 for market research analysts up to $180,000 for certain types of big data positions. Many of these positions are now available in some type of freelance form for various types of projects or temporary work, requiring that you bill your clients rather than receive a paycheck or direct deposit payment.

What the current job market in research means for you, according to Mashable, is that you have strong options for employment, negotiating a healthy salary, and professional growth. With so many available contract positions, you can create a flexible, balanced work schedule that gets you the money you need to meet your goals while enjoying your life and achieving personal goals. Keep honing those research and technical skills to continually increase your value over time. 

What’s Involved in Working in a Contract Research Position?

While you may have previously worked in an office environment, working for yourself as a researcher is a whole different ballgame. That’s because you not only have to find and keep contract research positions, but you also have to market yourself, manage cash flow, and handle daily operational tasks that are designed around carving out your own business.

One thing that is entirely different as a contract researcher is how you get paid. While you may have been accustomed to getting a check every two weeks with taxes deducted and a bank of time added for sick and vacation time, as a contractor you have to create invoices and receive a lump sum. It’s up to you to determine what to set aside for taxes or estimated tax payments as well as self-employment tax (if you have not incorporated). And, there is no more bank of sick or vacation time.

Online Invoicing Tools for Researchers That Everyone Loves

Now, you also need to submit an invoice to your clients that accounts for how you spent your time and this invoice is based on your agreed-upon hourly or project rate. Thanks to technology, the invoice task doesn’t have to be as tedious as it once was because now online invoicing tools digitize the process.

Here’s why you will love these tools as a researcher:

  • You will be able to create a brand for your research business by using a logo and company name on all your estimates, proposals, and invoices thanks to online templates that you can customize.
  • You will benefit from the time tracker capability of these online invoicing tools to manage your time on projects and put that data directly into your invoice to speed invoice production and provide your clients with very specific information about how you spent your time on their project.
  • You will save time by not having to re-enter the same information each month or pay period to put on these invoices. Instead, everything is stored online so you can click and create the next invoice you need with the fields already filled in. Even better is that these online invoicing tools can handle recurring invoices in case you regularly bill the same amount, such as a retainer you may have as a researcher.
  • While you work with data, you may not necessarily be a math whiz so online invoicing tools will be really helpful in doing calculations, incorporating discounts and taxes, or even converting the invoice amounts to a different currency.
  • You will enjoy sending invoices by email to your clients and offering them a way to pay online with a bank account or credit card through many different payment portals that they can access just by clicking on your invoice. This instant way to pay provides you with a way to increase the likelihood of being paid as quickly as possible since you do not have the security of a paycheck that comes like clockwork. However, training your clients on these online invoices may bring that payment predictability back.

Less time on invoicing means you have more time to dig deeper into that data and provide the insights that have made you an invaluable source for many companies. Plus, it provides you with a more satisfying workday doing what you love instead of what you have to as a research business owner.

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John Rampton is an Entrepreneur and Connector. John was recently named Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine, Finance Expert by Time and Blogging Expert by Forbes. He is the Founder and CEO of Due.

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