What is an Operations Research Analyst?

Operations research analysts are the individuals tasked with helping businesses solve problems and find solutions to those problems. Their critical thinking and quantitative reasoning skills help companies become more efficient and cost-effective. Here is some important information on operations research analysts, including what it takes to become one and what they can expect in terms of career outlook.

Overview of Operations Research Analyst

Operations research analysts are professions who use their critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills to help a business find and solve problems by gathering and analyzing information, statistical data, and input from workers. They’re involved in many areas of a business. They may assist human resources in finding cost-effective ways in their hiring practices while also assisting managers with managing supply chains, allocating resources and setting prices.

Operations research analysts use sophisticated computer software to help get the job done. The analyst will break down the information and data into little parts and determine in which area the problem exists. They use simulations, statistical analysis, and various other methods to get to the root of the problem. Operations research analysts may work independently or as part of a team on a consulting firm. The U.S. News & World Report ranked this profession #10 among the best business jobs and #47 among the 100 best jobs.

Becoming an Operations Research Analyst

To work in this profession, operations research analysts requires completion of at least a bachelor’s degree. However, most employers prefer candidates to have master’s or graduate degrees. Entry-level positions are often available to those with bachelor degrees in industrial engineering, business or math. Those with graduate degrees typically have degrees in operations research, engineering, analytics and management science or computer science.

Because this career is based on quantitative analysis, the individual must have a strong background in mathematics, including calculus, statistics, and linear algebra. Operations research is a multidisciplinary field that covers many areas, including engineering, political science, and economics. Throughout their careers, operations research analysts must complete continuing education to keep up with the ever-changing and constantly growing technologies. Operations research analysts must also have good communication skills.

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Career Outlook for Operations Research Analyst

Operations research analysts are looking at very good career prospects. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts these professionals should see an employment growth of 27 percent from 2016-2026. As companies continue to look for ways to be more efficient, so will the need for operations research analysts continue to grow.

According to a May 2016 BLS wage report, operations research analysts earned a median annual wage of $79,200 with the lowest ten percent earning less than $43,400 and the top ten percent earning more than$132,600. The highest wages were earned by those working for the federal government. The states with the highest level of employment in this occupation are California, Texas, Illinois, Virginia and Florida.

As indicated above, operations research analysts appear to have excellent career opportunities available to them in many facets of life. For example, the medical industry, which plays such an important part of our lives, relies on these analysts to help doctors and hospitals improve healthcare. The Armed Forces, also rely on them to help implement and develop policies to various government areas. These are just two of the many areas where operations research analysts are utilized and needed.