An operations research analyst is a quantitative expert who analyzes and solves complex business solutions across disciplines. Companies hire operations research analysts for a wide variety of important tasks. The analyst role is considered crucial in helping managers make decisions that will improve company operations. Above-average growth is expected in the operations research analyst field. In this report, we will cover some common tasks for the role, the educational background necessary to become an analyst, and expectations for operations research salary.
operations research salary: JOB DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
An operations research analyst uses high-level critical reasoning skills to analyze business problems and provide solutions to stakeholders. As the name implies, a company might hire an analyst to explore aspects of the company’s operations. Example tasks an operations analyst performs are studying the effectiveness of product costs, researching labor requirements, determining how to allocate resources, and analyzing product distribution.
Analysts gather data from relevant sources such as large databases, customer surveys, and sales histories. They also talk to internal sources and interview employees with specialized knowledge in the appropriate field. They determine which methods are needed to sort the data and analyze the problem. After properly collecting and arranging the relevant data, they begin their analysis.
Typical analysis includes a statistical analysis, predictive modeling, simulations, and other methods. Operations research analysts carefully go through the data, test models, and make conclusions that address business problems. They present their findings to managers in specific business departments and advise decision-makers on the proper steps to take to solve each problem.
To conclude their analyses, analysts organize their findings into a detailed report that will be distributed to managers from different departments and executives. In this report, they offer a range of recommendations and rank the top solutions. They also offer legitimate alternatives, each with the company’s best interests in mind.
An operations research analyst role is a full-time position, but companies occasionally hire analysts on a contractual basis to handle special projects. Most of an analyst’s work takes place in an office. However, analysts might spend some time in different areas of a company to talk to others and collect data. Sometimes, they need to travel to work with clients and executives or to attend conferences. Operations research analysts usually work as part of a team.
Operations research analysts hold approximately 114,000 jobs in the United States. 28% of these are in finance and insurance, and 22% are in professional, scientific, and technical services. 9% are involved in the management of companies and enterprises, and 9% are in manufacturing. 5% work in the federal government.
Some analysts work for the Department of Defense through private consulting firms. Certain positions might require applicants to go through a background check for security purposes.
A bachelor’s degree in a quantitative field related to operations research is a minimum requirement for most employers. A number of schools offer programs such as a Bachelor of Science in Mathematical and Operations Science. A degree in a related field such as engineering, computer science, mathematics, or analytics is also acceptable. Regardless of their major, students should have taken courses with a heavy focus on statistical analysis and computer science.
Employers also want to see that students have developed logical thinking abilities, and any coursework that enhances this ability is relevant. Students should have a background in specific computer courses like Visual Basic, C++, and SQL. This can either be done as part of an operations research program or in the form of electives. A solid background in mathematics is also required to be an operations analyst. Courses should include statistics, linear algebra, and calculus.
While quantitative and technical computer courses are key, writing and communication classes are useful because an operations analyst must express his/her ideas in to an audience of people from different disciplines.
A master’s degree is often preferable to a bachelor’s degree in the operations research industry. Employers want to see a focus on operations research as well as a curriculum that emphasizes computer science, mathematics, and engineering. Also relevant are political, economic, and advanced research classes.
It is common for students to specialize in a particular area during their operations research studies. Some add the necessary extra coursework into their current studies while others study for a second major. Common focus areas are finance, insurance, technology, and science.
Operations research analysts need to have excellent analytical skills, as they will need to regularly sort through complex data, interpret their findings, and make conclusions that affect their business. They must be familiar with programming languages and software packages and be able to design models independently.
Additionally, operations research analysts need to have high-level critical thinking skills and consider the costs and benefits of various solutions. Similarly, they should have advanced problem-solving skills. They should have a high mathematical acumen.
While the quantitative nature of the role has been stressed, operations research analysts need to have good communication and interpersonal skills so as to communicate technical ideas with people from other backgrounds and present their ideas to top-level managers. Finally, since they often must produce reports explaining their findings, analysts should have advanced writing skills.
Some in the operations research field go on to study for a Ph.D. This is not necessary. However, employers want to see that applicants have high-level knowledge in their field. Those who continue to grow their knowledge base and keep up to date with the most recent advances in technology, analytical methods, and software tools will be at an advantage when looking for an operations research analyst position.
OPERATIONS RESEARCH SALARY
According to July 31, 2018 data from Salary.com, the average entry-level operations research salary in the United States is $58,319. However, the range of average salaries falls between $51,963 and $67,991. Average total compensation (which includes bonus, healthcare, and retirement) for operations research analysts is $59,214. The range for average total compensation is $52,563 to $70,043.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median operations research salary in 2016 was $78,630 per year.
CollegeGrad.com lists a median operations research salary of $79,200. The highest 10 percent of analysts earned greater than $132,660, while the lowest 10 percent of analysts earned less than $43,400.
Below are the fields with the highest median operations research salary.
Factors that have a large effect on operations research salary are geographic location, educational background, experience in the field, certifications, and additional skills.
For example, while Salary.com lists a median operations research salary of $58,319, the median in New Jersey is $65,725. In California, it is $63,752. Conversely, in Texas, the median salary is $55,014. The highest salaries are on the West Coast and in the northeast.
The median operations research salary of $58,319 is for analysts with a bachelor’s degree and no experience. The median national salary jumps to $60,484 with five years of experience and a master’s degree.
It is important to note that the operations research analyst field offers various job titles that have an impact on salary. For example, three common distinctions are Operations Research Analyst I, Operations Research Analyst II, and Operations Research Analyst III. Operations Research III median base salaries are 39% higher than Operations Research Analyst I base salaries.
operations research salary: CONCLUSION
Based on projections for the ten-year period between 2016 and 2026, operations research analyst employment is expected to grow by 27%, which is must faster than the national average in other occupations. This can be attributed to the growing rise in demand for technology and the need for businesses to reduce costs and streamline their operations.
Operations research salary varies across geographical areas and based on experience and education, but companies value quantitative skills and are willing to train the right applicant. Operations research analysis is a field in which one can start out in an entry-level role and handle more responsibilities over time.
Research methods have become more efficient in recent years, and improvements in analytical programs have allowed more companies to perform an analysis. Operations research analysts benefit from these advancements as they can find meaningful conclusions from the data. The rapidly growing medical industry will likely look for operations research analysts to help improve its operations. Furthermore, analysts will be needed to develop and implement government policies in the Armed Forces.
As operations, research employment increases, applicants with advanced degrees in operations research, management science, and other related fields will have the best prospects to find work and advance in the industry. A Ph.D. is not required to become an operations research analyst, but it might help an applicant’s chances to succeed. A prior background in business or management, with strong research and analytical skills, are other factors that will boost employment chances.
Occupations related to operations research analysts are industrial engineers, economists, logisticians, market research analysts, management analysts, mathematicians, statisticians, and software developers. Those with a background in operations research might also consider these positions.