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Are you good with numbers? Do your favorite math problems include graphs and data? If so, you can turn that passion into a career as an operations research analyst.
An operation research analyst manages a company’s data to help improve business operations. They study pricing models and set prices for businesses and products. They also examine supply chains and make improvements based on their research. They are excellent communicators and have strong problem solving skills.
But to get this job, you need the right operations research degrees. Read on to learn what a degree in operations research is and which are the best operations research programs to study.
How to Become an Operations Research Analyst
The first step to a career as an operations research analyst is to earn a bachelor’s degree. Few schools offer an operations research degree on its own. Instead, schools recommend getting experience in an area of study that will prepare students for the job.
After you earn a bachelor’s degree, you might consider a master’s degree. A master’s degree will help you advance in your career.
Once you’ve earned your degrees, you can qualify for analyst jobs. But you will also need certain skills and training to succeed after your operations research degree.
Read on to learn more about how to become operations research analyst and what type of skills you need to do well on the job.
Best Operations Research Major
If you can’t major in operations research or operations management, look for other options. Many operations research analysts have a bachelor’s degree in:
- Computer science
- Data science
- Industrial Engineering
These majors help you get knowledge in a subject. You can also improve your analytical, critical, and technological skills.
Since the foundation for these majors is math, you graduate with strong math and statistics skills. These are important for your career.
But if your major doesn’t cover a lot of math, you should take as many advanced math courses as you can. Important core courses include:
- Linear algebra
- Management science
- Operations research analytics
What you completed prior to your job helps. These classes provide experience when you examine revenue management and business operations. Since you also need good technical skills, you should take classes that offer experience in data analytics. Computer science and data science classes also prepare students for the job.
Master’s Operations Research Program
Graduate operations research degrees help you advance in your career. This is why earning a master’s degree can help.
If you have a bachelor’s degree, you can qualify for entry-level jobs. But the bachelor’s degree may not get you an advanced position. Some jobs want more than an undergraduate operations research degree.
U.S. News & World Report states that with a master’s degree, you get better employment options. You also see better career mobility with a master’s degree. But which operation research degree program do you study?
Some master’s degrees can help you advance in your career. These include:
- Analytics and management science
- Computer science
- Operations research
- Project management
The best operation research analyst degree programs cover financial engineering and mathematical programming. You should spend a lot of time analyzing data and studying numbers. So, if you love working with numbers, this can be a rewarding career.
Some employers look at a master’s degree as having two years of work experience. This is another bonus for getting a master’s degree in an operations research program. But before you enroll in an operations research program, be sure it’s accredited.
Additional Training and Experience
Continuing education is important for operations research analysts. You must keep up with advances in technology and stay current with software tools.
After you earn an operations research degree, you want to look at your career path. If you want to advance in your career, you should plan to stay up-to-date in your field through ongoing education. Each credit hour you earn can give you valuable knowledge. Whether it’s a college course or certification, ongoing education can benefit your career.
Certain jobs in the industry ask for security clearance. Operations research analysts find this requirement in government positions. Operations research analysts must undergo extensive background checks.
Important Skills You Need for Research Analysts Jobs
There are certain technical skills needed to work as an analyst. These skills help you succeed in your career. You can get these skills in an operations research program or on the job. But having them before you start working as an analyst helps.
You need to use analytical methods on the job. These include:
- Data mining
- Statistical analysis
Operations research analysts also need to be able to examine and interpret data. To do the tasks your job needs, you must have strong analytical skills.
Analytical thinkers perform well in this role. They use programming languages and software to design and develop business models. You can pick up some of these skills in your college courses.
You need good communication skills to be able to present complicated data to those without a technical background. You must also be able to discuss your findings with team leaders and managers. Since your audience varies, being able to communicate effectively helps.
You can start developing your skills in college. While earning a bachelor’s degree in operations research, you will start improving your communication abilities. When you graduate from an operations research program, you will have a good grasp on how to communicate.
Critical thinking skills
Since you spend your days looking at data and improving project management, you should have strong critical thinking skills. You get these skills from the coursework in your classes. But you can also develop them on the job.
Critical thinking skills are important because you evaluate numbers. You look at benefits and costs. You also make recommendations based on your analysis. Having these skills helps in business operations. And as an analyst, that’s your job!
Since an important part of your job is project management, you should be able to team build. To do this, you must have strong interpersonal skills.
You can learn these skills in an operations research degree program where you work in teams to complete projects. But you will also have time to improve your skills on the job. They are important skills to have as undergraduate students or an analyst in health care organizations.
Mathematical and statistics skills
Math and statistics skills are important if you want to work as an analyst in any field. From industrial engineering to business operations, these skills help.
The mathematical tools and computer simulations you use include mathematics. So, having advanced knowledge and skills in math and stats helps. The math courses completed before going to work will also help you gain these skills.
Problem solving skills
The ability to solve problems is necessary for your analyst job. Your work includes diagnosing problems and analyzing information. You pick up problem solving skills while earning your operations research degree. But you also improve them at work.
Whether you work in business operations or industrial engineering, your day-to-day work as an analyst includes writing. You need to be able to put your findings on paper and explain them to different audiences. Some of which do not have a technical background. To do this requires strong writing skills.
Students prepare for the job by improving their writing skills. They do this while earning an operations research analyst degree. In class, you learn how to explain your findings in written form. You will draft reports and write research summaries.
How Much Money You Can Make
Considering an operations research program but want to know how much money you can make? Read on to learn what to expect after you get your bachelor’s degree in operations research.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average pay is $86,200/year for this job. You can earn more or less, but it depends on several factors.
- Where you live
- Where you work
- How much experience you have
The top 10% of earners in this occupation make over $144,000/year.
Below we discuss how where you live and work impacts your pay. Some cities and states pay more than others. The type of industry you choose to work as an operations research analyst also causes your pay to increase or decrease. Some of this is out of your control, but you can control your education and operations research experience.
Top Paying Industries
Where you work matters. Certain industries pay more than others. So, which industries pay the best wages?
BLS says that the federal government is the top-paying industry for operations research analysts. Here they earn an average pay of $119,720/year.
But other industries also pay strong wages. These include:
- Finance and insurance
- Project management
In manufacturing, operations research analysts earn $94,340/year. In the project management of companies and enterprises, you can earn $91,000/year. Finance and insurance offers an average pay of $86,280/year for this occupation. All industries pay stronger wages than the national average.
Top Paying Locations
Where you live also changes how much money you can make as an analyst. Certain states and cities pay higher wages than others. The BLS reports 5 high-paying states for this occupation. These include:
- District of Columbia: $116,700/year
- New Jersey: $114,410/year
- California: $108,350/year
- Virginia: $108,090/year
- New York: $107,620/year
There are also top-paying metropolitan areas. The top-paying area is San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara, California. An analyst with an operations research degree can expect to earn an average of $146,830/year.
Other high-paying metro areas include:
- Salinas, California: $124,950/year
- Santa Maria and Santa Barbara, California: $123,370/year
- Trenton, New Jersey: $116,730/year
- New York, Newark, and Jersey City area: $115,250/year
With high costs of living in metro areas, students with a bachelor’s degree in operations research can look at nonmetropolitan areas. Spots that pay well include northern areas of Ohio and central Missouri. You can also find high-paying analyst jobs in southern Indiana and south-central Kentucky.
Research analysts earn $109,450/year on average in northern areas of Ohio. This is a top-paying nonmetro area if you have an operations research degree.
In Central Missouri, operations research analysts can expect $90,170/year on average. In Western and Northwestern Ohio, you can make $88,720/year. Other nonmetro areas also offer competitive pay for this occupation. And because the cost of living is lower than metro areas, nonmetro areas are good for recent college graduates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an operations research program.
Job Outlook and Growth
Now that you’ve learned what is operations research major and what degree will help you advance your career, it’s important to look at job growth. Are there operations research analyst jobs after college? What can you expect after you earn your degree in operations research?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects strong job growth for this occupation. A 25% job growth! This means that over the next 10 years, there will be many jobs available. Good news for new research analysts with an operations research degree.
Why the growth?
In this field, new technologies emerge. Current ones also evolve. Companies must find new ways to cut costs and improve revenue. They need experts who know how to do this. They need people with experience in computer science and business operations. They also want operations research analysts with operations research knowledge. From government to healthcare, industries will call on the expertise of analysts.
By 2029, the industry will add about 26,100 new operations research jobs. Since there are about 105,000 jobs now, we should see 131,300 jobs soon. This means getting your degree in operations research now can help you land a job later on.
But since there is competition, you must stand out. Having business experience helps. Operations research students with a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree should see the best job prospects.