To put it simply, government research officers conduct research, collect data, analyse information and write reports for civil servants and politicians. Based on this expert research, politicians are able to make well-informed decisions about new and existing policies.
Government research officers are extremely important. These guys help the government’s decision makers to be as effective as possible. The decisions that are influenced by their research will have an impact on every UK citizen.
Therefore, as you can imagine, government research officers need to be extremely thorough and accurate in their collection and analysis of information.
If you enter this profession, you could find yourself working as a civil servant for a central government department. Alternatively, you might work for a local council, where your research will have more of a direct impact on local communities.
As a government research officer, you’ll be conducting surveys, interviewing members of the public, processing data, examining research papers and reviewing policy documents.
However, you won’t always be doing the active research work by yourself. Indeed, you’ll regularly be required to outsource research tasks to other organisations and individuals. In this case, you’ll adopt the position of a project manager for the duration of the research project: managing junior staff, commissioning external researchers and making sure that deadlines are met.
Once you have amassed all the information, you’ll be in charge of consolidating everything down into an easily digestible form. From time to time, you may also be required to give presentations to senior colleagues and politicians.
Salary & benefits
Annual salaries for entry-level government research officers range between £23,000 and £35,000. If you enter the profession via the Civil Service Fast Stream, you will be earning at the top end of this salary range.
As you progress and gain more experience, your salary could increase to £48,000 per annum. Senior research officers at the top of the profession can even earn up to £70,000 a year.
Generally, you’ll be required to work between 35 and 40 hours a week on a nine-to-five basis. However, occasionally you will have to work longer hours to make sure you hit research project deadlines.
Don’t worry! Job opportunities are not restricted to locations in and around Whitehall. There are tonnes of opportunities available around the country in tonnes of government offices.
Entry into this incredibly important profession is extremely competitive. Consequently, you will need a strong undergraduate or postgraduate degree. Top graduates from around the country will be competing for the same positions and, therefore, you should aim to get at least a 2:1.
The subject you study is not massively important. However, choosing a subject such as politics, European studies, sociology, maths, operational research, economics, history or geography may help your chances.
Getting a postgraduate degree in a relevant subject may also boost your chances of securing your ideal position.
Training & progression
If you pursue this career path, you will receive continuous training and support throughout your career. You’ll train whilst on the job under the supervision of experienced government research officers and you’ll also be encouraged to attend expert training courses (internal and external).
Entering the profession as a Civil Service Fast Streamer will allow you to develop your skills in a supportive, structured and interesting environment. Some government departments may even support you through relevant postgraduate qualifications.
Understandably, if you become a government research officer through the Civil Service Fast Stream, you will have the opportunity to progress through your career at a pretty ‘fast’ rate.
After only a few years in an entry-level position you may be promoted into a senior research officer position. From there, you may eventually become a principal research officer and then a chief research officer.
The Civil Service provides its employees with plenty of scope to explore other opportunities. For instance, you could join a range of different government departments throughout your career, or you could even take on a different profession entirely, such as that of policy advisor.