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How To Become Operations Research Analyst

By David Krug 4 minute read

When deciding whether or not to pursue a career in operations research analysis, it’s important to take into account more than just your salary. Workers in the highest income brackets can expect to make well into the six-figure range as an operations research analyst’s median salary. If you want to become an operations research analyst, you should be aware that it isn’t always the simplest of paths to take. In order to land this well-paying math job, you may have to think outside the box in terms of what you study in college, whether or not you go on to graduate school, and whether or not you continue your education after graduation.

Operational Research Analysts Earnings

Operations research analysts in the United States earn an average annual salary of $81,390, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median salary for operations research analysts in the United States, regardless of education or experience, is $90,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With the lowest 10% earning less than $45,270 per year, half of operations research analysts are underpaid. Some operations research analysts earn more than the median salary, and the highest-paid 10% of operations research analysts earn more than $134,470.

As in many other professions, the industry in which you work can have a significant impact on your salary. Pay for operations research analysts varies by as much as $30,000 between the five industries where they are most commonly employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Pay for operations researchers in the federal government, which employs less than 5% of the workforce, averages $111,570. The median salary for manufacturing operations research analysts is $90,120. Professional, scientific, and technical services employ nearly one-fifth of all operations research analysts and pay them an average of $85,180 annually. If you’re a management operations research analyst, you can expect to make $82,470 on average. Finance and insurance, the sector that employs the most operations research analysts, pays a median salary of $80,800, which is lower than the national average.

Operations research analysts have a median salary of $84,060, which is slightly lower than the $84,060 median wage for all mathematical science occupations and significantly lower than the six-figure median wages for actuaries and mathematicians.

Becoming an analyst in the field of operations research

Operations research analysts must have a bachelor’s degree, but figuring out what to study in college can be difficult. According to the BLS, few colleges and universities offer undergraduate or graduate-level programs in operations research specialization. Those that do tend to have a heavy focus on mathematics. Calculus, algebra, differential equations, probability, economics, computer science, data analytics, and business are common prerequisites for an operations research bachelor’s degree program.

An academic track or concentration, often focusing on decision-making in specific systems or using specific approaches, may be included in the curriculum. Graduate students are expected to have a strong background in mathematics prior to beginning their studies at this level of education. There may be an increased emphasis on stochastic or randomly determined models of data analysis in the coursework for a master’s degree in operations research.

To become an operations research analyst, what if your top-choice schools don’t offer this specialized degree? Operations research is a field that can benefit from a wide range of quantitative and technical backgrounds. According to the BLS, this career can be prepared for with a degree in computer science, mathematics, engineering, or analytics. With the help of their academic advisors, students who know they want to pursue a career in operations research should identify the courses that will help them achieve this goal.

A bachelor’s degree is sufficient for entry-level operations research analyst positions, but a master’s degree may be required for more advanced positions or for positions with more selective employers.

Operational Research Analysis Career Advantages

Students who excel in math should seriously consider a career as an operations research analyst for a variety of reasons. For starters, the BLS predicts a 27% increase in employment opportunities over the course of a decade for the profession. As the field of operations research continues to grow at an astronomical rate, there will be a shortage of qualified analysts. The “job explosion” is expected to create 28,000 new positions in the industry.

There are, of course, many other factors to take into account when making a decision about a career path. The high salary is one of the reasons this position is so attractive to many. One of the best jobs in America is operations research analyst because of this and other factors like a good work-life balance.

Operations research is a great career choice for those who enjoy using their analytical, math, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills in the workplace.

David Krug