Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Federal Trade Commission fulfills a twofold mission to protect both competition and consumers in the United States. Individuals at the FTC work together to enforce antitrust laws and to protect the public from fraud, deception, and unfair practices in the marketplace. The FTC pursues vigorous and effective law enforcement; advances consumers’ interests by sharing its expertise with federal and state legislatures and U.S. and international government agencies; develops policy and research tools through hearings, workshops, and conferences; and creates practical and plain-language educational programs for consumers and businesses in a global marketplace with constantly changing technologies.
“I created the datasets, graphs, and maps used by FTC economists in
antitrust litigation, [as well as] ran econometric models for a paper on the
treatment of developing countries in U.S. antidumping proceedings.”
The Bureau of Economics (BE) ensures that the FTC’s actions are backed by scientifically sound, data-driven economic analysis. With 80 PhD applied microeconomists, supported by 15 to 20 data research analysts, as well as financial analysts and support personnel, BE plays an essential role in virtually all aspects of the FTC’s mission. Economists and analysts work together with attorneys throughout the FTC to provide case support (investigation and litigation), policy research and development, competition and consumer advocacy, international outreach, and program evaluation.
Research Analysts work with either the Antitrust or Consumer Protection divisions.
- The Antitrust divisions, totaling approximately 60 economists, are devoted to competition matters and work closely with the attorneys in the Bureau of Competition.
- The Consumer Protection division, consisting of about 20 economists, is focused on consumer protection issues, such as credit availability, privacy and ID theft, and deceptive practices in the marketing of food, drugs, and nutrition supplements.
“I have served a myriad of roles…reading comments submitted by
trade groups and other associations in regards to the FTC’s public
notice on energy labeling, as well as helping to design the multiple
labels to be tested in the subsequent survey.”
Being an analyst for the Federal Trade Commission presents an opportunity to work on an array of projects that deal closely with various aspects of the economy. Research Analysts have participated in investigations dealing with issues at the forefront of the nation’s attention, such as the energy, pharmaceutical, real estate, and healthcare industries. In the Consumer Protection division, recent projects have included an analysis of advertising in the alcohol industry and an investigation into whether the use of credit scores in automobile insurance underwriting plays an important risk identification role and/or has a discriminatory impact on minorities. The Antitrust divisions, on the other hand, focus on merger and price issues, with Research Analysts participating in cases dealing with large grocery store chains (Whole Foods/Wild Oats), toy company ownership, real estate, and gasoline price monitoring, as well as cases in many other industries. Investigations are conducted by teams comprised of staff from the Bureau of Economics and the legal staff in the Bureau of Competition. As integral members of the team, Research Analysts interact with economists and legal staff, thereby gaining an understanding of both economic and legal aspects of antitrust investigations.
During these assignments, Research Analysts conduct statistical analyses, run regressions based on economic models, help develop economic models in investigations and publications, compile data from public and private sources, perform literature research, review the economic content of reports, and help design and test survey questionnaires. Overall, they are instrumental in creating the valuable tools and analyses that are often later used for litigation and investigational purposes. In addition to employing previous talents, there is also an opportunity to learn and develop new skills. FTC employees not only gain financial assistance to further their education, but participation is also encouraged in a series of related training courses, seminars, and conferences throughout the year.
“During my first month with the FTC I worked with various economists
and [research analysts] on multiple projects, ranging from a high profile
internet firm merger to a study on economic liberalization in Vietnam.
Each new merger case brings the opportunity to take an in-depth look
into a particular industry.”
“Working in conjunction with lawyers in the Bureau of Consumer Protection
gives the cases more relevance and gives me exposure to legal procedures.”
The training and development program is an important component of the Research Analyst experience. Through training and practice experience, Research Analysts at the FTC acquire expertise in several software packages and general economics, including:
“I have only been here for two months, and my STATA experience was
limited before starting at the FTC, but I have become much more proficient
with help from other RAs and economists. I have also been encouraged to take
outside courses [and] develop more skills.”
Some research analysts elect to continue working at the FTC to continue their career. Others elect to leave to pursue other opportunities. FTC research analysts are equipped with valuable and relevant work experience that enables them to aggressively pursue their education and careers.
Some pursue their education in economics, business, law, public policy and many other fields at prestigious universities such as:
And others launch their careers in the private sector or with other federal agencies such as:
“This has been a great opportunity for learning and preparing
myself for school or work after the FTC.”
Initial appointments are made at the GS-7 or GS-9 grade level, depending on qualifications, at a salary of approximately $43,000 or $51,000, respectively. (See the 2013 OPM pay schedule.)
“I chose to become a Research Analyst because the FTC offers
the opportunity to continue my academic development – cultivating
knowledge, skills, and experiences that will follow me throughout my career.”
This position is open to any U.S. citizen. Most research Analysts enter at the GS-7 level. In order to qualify at the GS-7 level, a candidate must have superior academic achievement as a college graduate (Bachelor’s degree with a GPA 3.0 or higher) or 1 full year of graduate level education (or equivalent work experience) at the time they start employment. (Anticipation of the academic qualification or experience before entering on duty is required for application). On occasion, the FTC hires research analysts at a GS-9 level. In order to qualify at the GS-9 level an applicant must have a Master’s degree (or 1 year of experience equivalent to the GS-7). The FTC will determine whether an applicant is qualified at the GS-7 or GS-9 level based on OPM’s requirements.
In regular budget years, the FTC generally hires research analysts two times per year, with one recruiting period in the winter and the other in the spring. However, candidates may apply for a research analyst position at any time there is an opening on USAJobs.gov.
This information will be updated to reflect OPM’s new Pathways Program, which replaces the previous Federal Career Intern program (FCIP) that was abolished March 1, 2011.
If you have any further questions or would like more information on current job openings, please contact Lynette Brown by email, HRMOEMPLOYMENT@ftc.gov, or by telephone, 202-326-3323.