How to Become an Operations Research Analyst

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Operations research analysis is a discipline that uses advanced logical methods to solve problems and make better decisions. Since large organizations are very multifaceted, operations research analysts help companies find better ways to effectively manage people, money, equipment, and materials.


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What does an operations research analyst do?

Operations research analysts help companies find more effective ways of functioning and managing by applying mathematic, engineering, and scientific analytical methods. They typically find various possible resolutions for meeting project goals. They are often involved in high level planning, strategizing, and forecasting. They assist in distributing resources, schedules, measuring performance, coordinating distribution and transportation, designing production systems and facilities, setting prices, managing the supply chain, and analyzing large databases.

Operations research analysts begin a project by listening to managers describing the issue. They ask many questions and formally identify the problem. They then study the issue and divide it into sections and gather information from many different sources. They use many techniques such as statistical analysis, linear programming, data and computer modeling, and other mathematical methods. Once they gather all the information and complete their research, operations research analysts present their suggestions to managers.

What kind of training does an operations research analyst need?

Operations research analysts typically need at least a master degree in operations research or other closely related area. Some positions require a master degree paired with a bachelor degree in computer science, mathematics, economics, or statistics. Operations research analysts with dual graduate degree in computer science and operations research are very attractive to employers. It is very important for operations research analysts to maintain their problem-solving skills by keeping up to date with improvements in analytical methods and advances in technology. Many operations research analysts complete continuing education annually.

What are the prospects for a career as an operations research analyst?

Employment of operations research analysts is expected to grow as fast as average for all professions, increasing 11% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The increased demand for operations research analysts by organizations to help optimize profits will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good, especially for operations research analysts with doctoral degrees in operations research. Some job openings will stem from the need to replace operations research analysts who retire or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do operations research analysts make?

As of August 2009, the middle 50% of operations research analysts earned annual salaries between $40,919 and $57,824. The highest 10% earned annual salaries of more than $63,692 (2).

A career as an operations research analyst is a great choice for individuals who are interested in assisting companies with management. Operations research analysts must be competent in database collection and management. Logical thinking, good problem solving skills, tactfulness, analytical thinking, strategic thinking, ability to write and speak well, and ability to work well with others are all necessary characteristics of policy analysts.

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