Operations research analysts use advanced mathematical and analytical methods to help solve complex issues.
What they do
Operations research analysts use advanced mathematical and analytical methods to help organizations solve problems and make better decisions.
Operations research analysts typically do the following:
- Identify and solve problems in areas such as business, logistics, healthcare, or other fields
- Collect and organize information from a variety of sources, such as computer databases, sales histories, and customer feedback
- Gather input from workers involved in all aspects of a problem or from others who have specialized knowledge, so that they can help solve the problem
- Examine information to figure out what is relevant to a problem and what methods might be used to analyze it
- Use statistical analysis, simulations, predictive modeling, or other methods to analyze information and develop practical solutions to business problems
- Advise managers and other decisionmakers on the effects of various courses of action to take in order to address a problem
- Write memos, reports, and other documents explaining their findings and recommendations for managers, executives, and other officials
Operations research analysts are involved in all aspects of an organization. They help managers decide how to allocate resources, develop production schedules, manage the supply chain, and set prices. For example, they may help decide how to organize products in supermarkets or help companies figure out the most effective way to ship and distribute products.
Analysts must first identify and understand the problem to be solved or the processes to be improved. Analysts typically collect relevant data from the field and interview clients or managers involved in the business processes being examined. Analysts show the implications of pursuing different actions and may assist in achieving a consensus on how to proceed.
Operations research analysts use sophisticated computer software, such as databases and statistical packages, to analyze and solve problems. Analysts use statistical software to simulate current and future events and evaluate alternative courses of action. Analysts break down problems into their various parts and analyze the effect that different changes and circumstances would have on each of these parts. For example, to help an airline schedule flights and decide what to charge for tickets, analysts may take into account the cities that have to be connected, the amount of fuel required to fly those routes, the expected number of passengers, pilots’ schedules, maintenance costs, and fuel prices.
There is no one way to solve a problem, and analysts must weigh the costs and benefits of alternative solutions or approaches in their recommendations to managers.
Because problems are complex and often require expertise from many disciplines, most analysts work on teams. Once a manager reaches a final decision, these teams may work with others in the organization to ensure that the plan is successful.
Operations research analysts spend most of their time in offices. Some may spend time in the field to gather information and observe business processes directly. Analysts may also travel in order to work with clients and company executives and to attend conferences.
Because problems are complex and often require expertise from many disciplines, most analysts work on teams.
How to become an Operations Research Analyst
Although the typical educational requirement for entry-level positions is a bachelor’s degree, some employers may prefer to hire applicants with a master’s degree. Because few schools offer bachelor’s and advanced degree programs in operations research, analysts typically have degrees in other related fields.
Many entry-level positions are available for those with a bachelor’s degree. However, some employers may prefer to hire applicants with a master’s degree.
Although some schools offer bachelor’s and advanced degree programs in operations research, some analysts have degrees in other technical or quantitative fields, such as engineering, computer science, analytics, or mathematics.
Because operations research is based on quantitative analysis, students need extensive coursework in mathematics. Courses include statistics, calculus, and linear algebra. Coursework in computer science is important because analysts rely on advanced statistical and database software to analyze and model data. Courses in other areas, such as engineering, economics, and political science, are useful because operations research is a multidisciplinary field with a wide variety of applications.
Continuing education is important for operations research analysts. Keeping up with advances in technology, software tools, and improved analytical methods is vital.
The median annual wage for operations research analysts was $84,810 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,670, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $140,790.
Employment of operations research analysts is projected to grow 25 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. As technology advances and companies seek efficiency and cost savings, demand for operations research analysis should continue to grow. In addition, increasing demand should occur for analysts in the field of analytics in order to improve business planning and decision-making.
Similar Job Titles
Advanced Analytics Associate, Analytical Strategist, Business Analytics Director, Business Insight and Analytics Manager, Decision Analyst, Operations Research Analyst, Operations Research Director, Operations Research Group Manager, Operations Research Manager, Optimization Analyst
Mathematician, Biostatistician, Remote Sensing Scientist and Technologist, Economist, Survey Researcher
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- Airline Group of the International Federation of Operational Research Societies
- American Statistical Association
- Association for Computing Machinery
- Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals
- Decision Sciences Institute
- Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
- Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers
- Mathematical Programming Society
- Military Operations Research Society
Magazines and Publications
Weighing the costs and benefits of different solutions to complex problems, operations research analysts help organizations make better decisions. Operations research analysts use modeling software to simulate current and future events, and explore how altering the costs, schedules and other variables, might affect results. Their first step is exploring the problem at hand… then observing business processes in action… interviewing the clients or managers involved… and collecting other relevant data. With data in hand, analysts help managers decide how to allocate resources, develop production schedules, manage the supply chain, and set prices. For example, they may help decide how to organize products in supermarkets, the best way to ship products, or even what an airline should charge for tickets. Almost all operations research analysts work full time, and are employed by finance and insurance companies, private consulting firms, manufacturing, and for the Department of Defense. Most of their time is spent in an office, but they may visit organizations to gather data. They often work in teams with experts from a variety of different fields. Though many positions require a master’s or Ph.D., a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for most entry-level positions. Typical majors include engineering, computer science, analytics, or mathematics, as well as operations research. Positions with the military are usually filled by military veterans.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org