How to become a Research Officer

Research officers plan and conduct research into a variety of issues or areas.

Personal requirements of a Research Officer

  • Enthusiasm for research
  • Able to analyse and collate information
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Able to manage workload and meet deadlines
  • Good organisational skills
  • Proactive

Education & Training for a Research Officer

To become a research officer you usually have to complete a degree with a major that is relevant to the field in which you wish to conduct research. Research can be conducted into any field of learning but you could consider studies in arts, biology, economics, Indigenous studies, mathematics, medicine, political science, science and geology. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Research Officer

Research officers:

  • contact members of the public, organisation representatives or special interest groups to gather information
  • conduct research using a variety of sources, including the internet, journals and publications or other relevant literature
  • collate and write up the results of their research for statistical or publication purposes
  • collect and analyse biological, meteorological or other types of data or samples for scientific study
  • study long-term and short-term trends in population growth and health, in the areas of biological, medical and health research
  • study the behaviour of animals for the purposes of zoological research
  • study economic or social trends in order to assist development with the policy
  • perform administrative, record keeping or statistical tasks related to research
  • pursue funding for further research.

Working conditions for a Research Officer

Research officers can work in a wide variety of research fields, including medical, biological, educational, social, academic, economic, mathematical, legislation and human rights, human resources, business operations, the arts and creative arts, exploration and mining, communications technologies, logistics, information sciences, operations and political areas.

Employment Opportunities for a Research Officer

Research officers are employed by federal, state and territory government departments and organisations as well as trade unions, political parties, universities and non-profit organisations. Some work in the private sector for organisations that provide consultancy services to other organisations. Employment prospects for research officers are affected by the level of funding available in their chosen areas. With experience and sometimes further training, promotion to managerial positions is possible. For more information about joining the public service, see the separate entries for Public Servant - Australian Public Service and Public Servant - State Government.


Operations Researcher

An operations researcher develops methodologies for analysing and solving problems in government, business and industry, often using mathematical tools, statistical analysis and computers.

Avg. weekly wage:


Future growth:

Very strong

Employment by state:

ACT ACT 29.4%

NSW NSW 20.8%

NT NT 1.6%

QLD QLD 11.4%

SA SA 9.6%

TAS TAS 0.9%

VIC VIC 20.9%

WA WA 5.4%

Hours worked:



Lower unemployment

Gender split:

Male 39.8%

Female 60.2%

Education level:

Highest qualification is secondary school: 7.5%

Highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 7.1%

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 38.7%

Highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 46.7%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 0.4%

20-24 - 2.4%

25-34 - 32.3%

35-44 - 29.2%

45-54 - 23.7%

55-59 - 7.8%

60-64 - 3.2%

65 and Over - 1%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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