What Does an Operations Research Analyst Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Team of operations research analysts
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An operations research analyst uses mathematical expertise and analytical methods to help businesses and organizations solve problems and make decisions. They work on teams of people with knowledge in different disciplines to solve complex problems. Operations research analysts advise managers on how to allocate resources, schedule production, and set prices.

Duties & Responsibilities

Operations research analysts must have the ability to perform the following duties:

  • Provide research on specific topic areas to support project teams' work
  • Define business problems within an organization and use statistical analysis, simulations, predictive modeling, or other methods to analyze it and develop practical solutions
  • Gather information from members of the organization, including workers and management, who can contribute information about problems and possible solutions
  • Research to come up with possible solutions
  • Recommend strategies to management and other decision-makers
  • Track and analyze key metrics and report on them
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of decisions
  • Assist in planning projects including scheduling and budgets
  • Write reports and memos to explain findings and make recommendations

An operations research analyst is an essential part of an organization's decision-making team. By performing these tasks, they contribute to the entity's success.

Operations Research Analyst Salary

Operations research analysts' salaries vary based on their experience and the industry in which they work. Those working for the Federal government earn a median annual salary of $113,920, while those employed in the manufacturing industry make $92,170. Operations research analysts who work in the finance and insurance industry earn $82,340.

  • Median Annual Salary: $83,390
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $136,250
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $46,810

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018.

Education, Training, & Certification

To become an operations research analyst, one needs a minimum of a bachelor's degree, but most employers prefer to hire job candidates who have a master's degree.

College or Graduate School: To be an operations research analyst, one needs a degree in math, engineering, computer science, or physics. While it is possible to get an entry-level job with a bachelor's degree in one of these majors, most employers prefer to hire job candidates who have a master's degree. One should study statistics, calculus, and linear algebra to prepare for the technical aspects of this occupation. Also taking political science, engineering, and economics classes will be an asset given the interdisciplinary nature of this occupation.

Military Training: Military experience is helpful for some positions.

Continuing Education: It is imperative to keep up with technological advances, new software, and improved analytical methods after earning a degree.

Operations Research Analyst Skills & Competencies

In addition to excellent mathematical and analytical skills, an operations research analyst also needs the following abilities:

  • Problem Solving Skills: It is essential to be able to identify problems based on information others provide.
  • Critical Thinking: Operations research analysts must be able to come up with solutions, use various tools to analyze them, and choose the one they determine will work best.
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills: These skills allow them to function as members of teams that also include managers and other decision-makers.
  • Writing Skills: This job requires composing reports and memos to explain suggested strategies and report on outcomes.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for this field is excellent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 27% increase in jobs between 2016 and 2026. That is much a faster growth rate than the average for all occupations during the same period.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018.

Work Environment

Operations research analysts spend a lot of time in an office, so if you prefer to work outdoors, this may not be the best fit. Travel may be necessary to meet with clients and company executives located in other cities. Some operations research analysts gather data and observe work processes by spending time out in the field.

Work Schedule

People in this occupation typically work at least full-time (40 hours per week) but most work longer hours to meet deadlines.

Comparing Similar Jobs

People who are interested in becoming operations research analysts should also consider the following fields that have related responsibilities and require similar skills:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018.