CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUL. 07, 2014
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How to Become an Operations Research Analyst in the US

If you take pleasure in working with statistics and mathematics, you might consider one of the numerous operations research occupations. Operations research analysts are highly skilled professionals who are responsible for the investigation of intricate issues in various organizations. The position of an operations research analyst requires an individual with an inquisitive mind and has the ability to ask probing questions to help in clarifying the decision maker’s goals.

What Do Operations Research Analysts Do?

Operations research analysts usually work full time and spend a large amount of time in their offices. They delineate business problems in areas such as logistics, sales or production and advice managers and other business decision makers on ways to improve the performance of their business.  They might have to use urbane computer software such as statistical, databases and modeling packages to evaluate these problems. Other duties include:

  • Collecting and organizing information from different sources
  • Evaluating processes through direct inspection to identify the problematic areas
  • Formulating simulation models or mathematical problems, relating restrictions, constants and variables, conflicting objectives, alternatives and their arithmetical parameters
  • Evaluating alternatives
  • Selecting best solutions
  • Organizing management reports evaluating and describing problems with their recommended solutions
  • Conducting testing and validation of models to ensure efficiency and reformulating models when necessary

Operations research analysts apply advanced analytical and mathematical methods to help these organizations recognize and unravel problems and arrive at better decisions. Companies hire these professionals to make their business transactions better.

Salary

According to the BLS, operations research analysts earn a median annual salary of $72,100. Below is the earnings of operations research analysts per state:

State

Earnings

Virginia

$103,140

New York

$94,450

Rhode Island

$93,270

Alaska

$90,660

District of Columbia

$88,880

New Jersey

$87,980

Maryland

$85,290

Source: recruiter.com

What Qualifications are Needed?

Operations analysts are expected to try hard to define the goals and constraints of the system. This should be done in quantitative terms and they are expected to establish a mathematical model that comprises of chance and risk factors. This requires them to use standard OR techniques such as Critical Path Analysis, Linear Programming, Queuing Theory Simulation Statistical Decision Theory and Inventory Control. This requires them to possess the following skills:

  • Analytical and critical thinking
  • Statistical analysis
  • Complex problem solving
  • Competency in sophisticated computer software
  • Mathematical reasoning
  • Judgment and decision making
  • System analysis skills to determine how a system is supposed to work and the impact of changing the prevailing conditions

Professional Training

Typical employers prefer applicants who have pursued a master’ degree in operations researchmanagement science or any other related field. Nevertheless, the minimum requirement for this position is a bachelors’ degree. Individuals who possess dual degrees in computer science and operations research have higher chances of securing this position.

Operations research analysts need to replenish their skills so as to enhance their problem solving ability. They are required to be updated on technological advances, software tools and any other analytical methods. Analysts who are able to make use of operations research software and advanced statistical packages are the most sought for by employers. Pursuing operations research to higher levels enables the applicant to hold top positions in the occupation such as a technical specialist or a project team leader. There is also a possibility of higher level administrative or management positions while working to achieve more insight in operations research.

Career Prospects

The BLS projects employment opportunities for operations research analysts to increase 27% from 2012-2022. This is due to the increase in the number of organizations and industries seeking efficiency and cost savings owing to the advancement in technology.

Operations research began with the World War II military planners and was later adopted in businesses and various organizations. Nowadays, there is an increase in the number of operations research analysts in almost every industry ranging from manufacturing to finance as well as government agencies.

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