Operations research analysts work in financial, technical, defense and insurance industries helping companies and organizations solve problems through mathematics and data analysis. Some operations analysts work in the field, gathering data and observing processes, while others spend their days meeting with clients and executives in offices.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected that operations analyst jobs will grow by 27 percent between 2016 and 2026, far faster than the average occupation.

What is an Operations Research Analyst?

An operations research analyst needs to be competent and up-to-date in data analysis methods, technology and software for analytics.

To interpret data, these professionals must be comfortable with analytical methods, including statistical analysis, data mining and forecasting. They also need to know computer programming languages relevant to data modeling. Operations research analysts should possess strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills for doing cost evaluations, determining alternative solutions and sorting through mountains of data to find the relevant information that lets them diagnose problems.

Besides hard skills in research and analytics, operations research analysts also need soft skills in communication and personnel leadership because once they have collected and organized data, operations research analysts must present technical information to executive decision-makers without a technical background. They also need the interpersonal skills to work on a team, and the leadership ability to boost team members to produce their very best.

Job Description & Responsibilities

U.S. News & World Report named operations research analyst among the top ten jobs in business. The magazine quoted Anne Robinson, a leader in operations analysis at Verizon Wireless, who said, “This is really decision guidance. Companies are trying to get value out of big data and analytics platforms investments, and they need the right talent to take it from raw data to an intelligent asset for business.”

Financial companies such as Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase, as well as defense contractors like Boeing often employ operations research analysts. New analysts may work on simple projects under a more seasoned professional until they are ready to grapple with complex problems.

Whatever the industry or role in which they serve, operations research analysts’ major tasks include analyzing data to find trends and anomalies, conducting impact analyses, developing process improvements and improving technology performance. Their work contributes to resource allocation, price setting and supply chain management.

For example, an operations research analyst may help determine how a supermarket is organized, schedule airline flights or set the cost of a software package. Others could design new product lines or upgrade existing ones. These professionals can find work in many industries, and jobs are available around the country.

Salary and Educational Background

Currently, the BLS states that the average salary for an operations research analyst stands at $81,390 though skills and experience factor into the range of salary possibilities.

Those professionals who show skills in business analysis, project management and SQL can expect to earn more than average, and late career professionals may earn as much as 20 percent more than the average, according to Payscale. The highest earners in the field bring in more than $130,000 per year, and many of those top-wage professionals work for the federal government.

Operations research analysts usually start their careers by earning a bachelor’s degree in business, computer science or organizational management. In these programs, students can acquire skills in research analysis, problem solving and process improvement. Most degrees, including the degree program at Bethel University, include extensive coursework in mathematics, statistics, calculus and linear algebra.

With Bethel University’s flexible, online bachelor’s in organizational management degree, you can build your career while maintaining your commitments to work and life. Our programs offer you a personalized learning experience in a supportive atmosphere designed for your intellectual and spiritual growth.

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