Operations Research Analyst Degree

What is an Operations Research Analyst Degree?

An operations research analyst degree trains students to use data and advanced techniques to solve complicated problems in an organization. An individual who enjoys researching data to solve problems that leave others baffled may enjoy this career path!

Operations research analysts are individuals committed to solving programs using advanced techniques that require advanced knowledge and skill. They’re also individuals who enjoy lifelong learning. Working as an operations research analyst requires comprehensive and continuing education and training, but it can also provide a career filled with challenges.

What is an Operations Research Analyst?

An operations research analyst is a highly-educated and trained professional who identifies and solves problems in areas like logistics, business, healthcare, and more using advanced math and analysis. They gather their data from computer databases, financial histories, and various other sources.

One thing that makes operations research analysts unique is that they’re not satisfied with just solving a problem. They realize that most problems can be solved in more than one way and weigh the benefits and costs of solving the problem to determine which method works best for the company. Once they’re satisfied with their solution, they produce reports and documentation of their findings and present them to management.

Operations research analysts not only solve problems but also assist management in other areas to improve business operations. For example, they may manage the supply chain, develop production schedules, disperse resources, and determine prices.

Operations Research Analyst Degree

What Does an Operations Research Analyst Do?

An operations research analyst is a professional who uses advanced analytic methods to help organizations solve complex problems and make better decisions. The role requires a deep understanding of mathematics, statistics, and computer science. Operations research analysts use analytical tools such as linear programming, data mining, and simulation to analyze problems and develop solutions.

They must also be able to explain their findings to non-technical audiences. The primary job duties of an operations research analyst include identifying and analyzing business problems, developing and testing solutions, and presenting recommendations to decision-makers.

What Techniques Does an Operations Research Analyst Use?

They solve the problems at hand using various advanced methods and techniques.

Optimization Techniques

These techniques are used to identify the best possible solution to a problem by maximizing or minimizing a certain objective function. Examples include linear programming, nonlinear programming, dynamic programming, and integer programming.


Simulation techniques allow an operations research analyst to model a complex system in order to better understand its behavior. This can involve creating a mathematical model or using a computer to run simulations.

Queueing Theory

The study of waiting lines, or queues, is used to determine the most effective way to manage the resources of a system. It is used to study customer behavior, manage customer flow, and optimize system performance. Queueing Theory also helps to analyze customer satisfaction, predict customer waiting times, and optimize the design of services.

Decision Analysis

These techniques are used to evaluate options and make decisions in uncertain environments. This includes techniques such as decision trees, influence diagrams, and utility theory.

Heuristic Techniques

Analysts can quickly solve complex problems by using heuristics to find a good solution. These problem-solving methods use trial and error, educated guesses, or rules of thumb to come up with solutions. They are usually used when traditional methods of problem-solving don’t work, or when it’s too time-consuming or expensive to use more rigorous methods. Heuristics are often used in difficult decision-making processes, such as those involving complex or ill-defined problems. Commonly used heuristic techniques include brainstorming, simulation, and analogy.

Statistical Analysis

These techniques analyze data and make predictions about future outcomes. Predictive analytics creates a statistical model of future behavior based on historical data. So it forecasts future outcomes based on past performance. The goal of predictive modeling is to make predictions about events such as identifying customers who are likely to purchase a product or predicting the price of a stock. Examples include regression analysis and time series analysis.

Data Mining

This process analyzes large datasets to uncover patterns, correlations, trends, and other insights that can help organizations make better decisions. It involves the use of sophisticated data analysis tools such as machine learning algorithms to uncover hidden patterns in data that may not be visible to the human eye. The insights gained through data mining can be used to improve decision-making, identify opportunities, and also optimize processes.

Where do Operations Research Analysts Work?

Operations Research Analysts work in a variety of work environments including government agencies, hospitals, universities, consulting firms, and other private organizations. They often work closely with business leaders and managers to provide crucial data and analysis to help make better-informed decisions.

How Do You Become an Operations Research Analyst?

  1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree: Most operations research analyst jobs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a field such as mathematics, engineering, economics, computer science, or a related field.
  2. Gain Experience: Consider taking on a part-time job or internship that will give you the opportunity to gain experience in data analysis and operations research.
  3. Pursue a Master’s Degree: A master’s degree in operations research or a related field can give you an edge in the job market.
  4. Consider Certification: Consider earning a professional certification such as the Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM).
  5. Stay Up to Date: Operation research analysts must stay current with the newest analytical methods, technological advances, and research methods. Consider attending seminars, workshops, and conferences.

What Education Do You Need to Be an Operations Research Analyst?

Although entry-level positions in this field may be obtained with a bachelor’s degree, many employers prefer to hire individuals with a master’s degree in operations research. Very few schools offer bachelor’s degrees in operations research, so those who do earn the baccalaureate degree choose a field related to operations research.

Some popular majors include analytics, mathematics, computer science, and industrial engineering. Because operations research is such a multidisciplinary field, it requires a wide variety of math, science, and engineering-based college courses.

Candidates, who should have a solid background in mathematics, can expect to complete courses in linear algebra, statistics, economics, advanced statistical and database software, calculus, political science, and engineering. Operations research analysts must also keep up with continuing education to be current with software, analytical techniques, and advancing technologies.

What Skills Do You Need for Research Analysts Jobs?

Analytical Skills and Problem-Solving Skills

An operations analyst must have excellent critical thinking skills. They must be able to analyze data, identify trends and patterns, and then draw meaningful conclusions from their findings.

Communication Skills and Interpersonal Skills

After they interpret data, they must effectively communicate their findings to colleagues, stakeholders, and also customers. Additionally, they must also be able to work with others to identify and resolve any issues that may arise.

Technical Skills

These professionals must be proficient in the use of various analytical software applications, such as spreadsheets, databases, and statistical software.

Skills in Inquiry and Research Skills

Research analysts must be able to research topics, identify relevant information, and also draw meaningful conclusions.

Business Acumen

A general understanding of business operations is imperative. ORAs must understand marketing, finance, and various business models.

Time Management Skills

Research analysts must be able to manage their time effectively to ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget.

What Is the Employment Growth for an Operations Research Analysis?

The job outlook is excellent! Operations research analysts are very much in demand today as technology continues to grow and companies continue to look for ways to be more efficient and cost-effective. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that operations research analysts should see job growth of 23 percent during the decade of 2021 to 2031. And the BLS expects over 10,000 job openings for operations research analysts each year over the decade.

Furthermore, US News and World Report ranks operations research analysts number 9 among the best business jobs and number 28 among the best 100 jobs.

How Much Does an Operations Research Analyst Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that these professionals also have the potential to earn excellent wages. Salaries for Operations Research Analysts range from $48,690 at the lowest 10 percent to $160,850 at the top 90 percent. And the average yearly wage is about $82,360.

What are the Top Paying Locations for Operations Research Analysts?

Salaries can vary from one geographic location to another. Below are the five top-paying states for Operations Research Analysts.

StateAnnual mean wage
New York$100,100
Top paying states for Operations Research Analysts.

Below are the top-paying metropolitan areas for Operations Research Analysts.

Metropolitan AreaAnnual mean wage
San Jose, CA$164,730
Houston, TX$127,330
Austin, TX$118,710
Huntsville, AL$117,240
Peoria, IL$116,770

What are the Top Paying Industries?

Not all employers pay the same. Below are the BLS median annual wages for operations research analysts in the top industries in which they work.

Federal Government$120,950
Professional, scientific, and technical services $99,790
Manufacturing $98,040
Management of companies and enterprises $94,070
Finance and Insurance $79,450
BLS Top Paying Industries

Related Occupations

You may also want to explore other related fields that may be interesting to you.

  • Business Intelligence Analysts more
  • Computer Systems Analysts more
  • Data Scientists more 
  • Management Analysts more 
  • Software Developers more
  • Financial Analyst
  • Statisticians and Mathematicians more
  • Computer Scientist
  • Database Administrator
  • Actuarial Analyst
  • Industrial Engineer more
  • Quality Control Analyst

Professional Organizations and Resources

Below are some additional resources for more information about operations research analysts.

  • Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS)
  • Military Operations Research Society (MORS)
  • Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM)
  • European Association of Operations Research (EURO)
  • International Federation of Operational Research Societies (IFORS)
  • Operational Research Society (UK)
  • International Institute of Forecasters (IIF)
  • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
  • Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE)
  • The Operations Research Society of Japan (ORSJ)

Your Operations Research Career

We live in a world filled with data and research designed to give meaning to that research. Furthermore, much of that data and research are used to solve world-changing programs. Working as an operations research analyst allows one to play an important role in helping to solve major problems that can also make our society safer and better.