What is an Operations Research Analyst?

An individual who enjoys researching data to solve complicated programs that leave others baffled often chooses a career as an operations research analyst. 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. They solve the problems at hand using various advanced methods and techniques such as:

  • Simulations
  • Predictive modeling
  • Statistical analysis
  • Optimization
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Data mining

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 of business, such as managing the supply chain, developing production schedules, dispersing resources, and determining prices.

How to Become 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, such as analytics, mathematics, computer science, or engineering. Because operations research is such a multidisciplinary field, it requires a wide variety of math, science, and engineering-based 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.

Career and Salary Outlook

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 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that operations research analysts should see job growth of 27 percent during the decade of 2016-2026. U.S. News and World Report rank operations research analysts number 10 among best business jobs and number 47 among best 100 jobs.

The bureau reports that these professionals also have the potential to earn excellent wages. As of May 2017, operations research analysts earned wages that ranged from $45,270 at the lowest 10 percent to $134,470 at the top 90 percent with an average yearly wage of about $86,510. Salaries can vary from location to location. The five top-paying states for operations research analysts include:

  • District of Columbia – $111,630
  • New Jersey – $107,270
  • Virginia – $104,680
  • New York – $99,880
  • Maryland – $98,160

We live in a world filled with data and research designed to give meaning to that research. Much of that data and research is 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 make our society safer and better.

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