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Operations Research Analysts

Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBWYsytaCbw.
Quick Facts: Operations Research Analysts
2021 Median Pay $82,360 per year
$39.59 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2020 104,100
Job Outlook, 2020-30 25% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 25,600

What Operations Research Analysts Do

Operations research analysts use mathematics and logic to help solve complex issues.

Work Environment

Operations research analysts spend much of their time in office settings, although travel may be necessary to meet with clients. Most operations research analysts work full time.

How to Become an Operations Research Analyst

Operations research analysts typically need at least a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation. Some employers require or prefer that applicants have a master’s degree. Analysts may need a degree in operations research or a related field, such as applied mathematics.

Pay

The median annual wage for operations research analysts was $82,360 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Employment of operations research analysts is projected to grow 25 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 10,200 openings for operations research analysts are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for operations research analysts.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of operations research analysts with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about operations research analysts by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Operations Research Analysts Do About this section

Operations research analysts
Operations research analysts advise managers and other decision makers on the appropriate course of action to solve a problem.

Operations research analysts use mathematics and logic to help organizations make informed decisions and solve problems.

Duties

Operations research analysts typically do the following:

  • Identify problems in areas such as business, logistics, healthcare, or other fields
  • Collect and organize information from a variety of sources, such as databases, sales histories, and customer feedback
  • Gather input from workers or subject-matter experts
  • Analyze collected data and extract information relevant to the problem being addressed
  • Develop and test quantitative models, support software, and analytical tools
  • Write memos, reports, and other documents explaining their findings and recommendations for managers, executives, and other officials

Operations research analysts may be involved in many aspects of an organization. For example, they may help managers decide how to allocate resources, develop production schedules, oversee the supply chain, and set prices.

To begin a project, analysts first identify the problem to be solved or the processes to be improved. They typically collect data and interview clients, workers, or others involved in the business processes being examined.

Analysts then break down the problem into its various parts using statistical and database software and analytical techniques, such as forecasting and data mining. They also study the effect that different changes and circumstances would have on each of these parts. For example, to help an airline schedule flights and set ticket prices, analysts may take into account the cities involved, the amount and cost of fuel required, the expected number of passengers, the pilots’ schedules, and the maintenance costs.

Operations research analysts provide alternatives to pursuing different actions and may assist in achieving a consensus on how to proceed. They weigh the costs and benefits of alternative solutions or approaches in their recommendations to managers.

Work Environment About this section

Operations research analysts
Operations research analysts typically work in an office setting.

Operations research analysts held about 104,100 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of operations research analysts were as follows:

Finance and insurance 27%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 22
Management of companies and enterprises 9
Manufacturing 6
Federal government 6

Some operations research analysts in the federal government work for the Department of Defense, which also employs analysts through private consulting firms.

Operations research analysts spend much of their time in office settings. They may travel to gather information, observe business processes, work with clients, or attend conferences.

Work Schedules

Most operations research analysts work full time.

How to Become an Operations Research Analyst About this section

Operations research analysts
Operations research analysts typically need at least a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation.

Operations research analysts typically need at least a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation. Some employers require or prefer that applicants have a master’s degree. Analysts may need a degree in operations research or a related field, such as applied mathematics.

Education

Operations research analysts typically need at least a bachelor’s degree, but some jobs require a master’s degree. Fields of degree may include operations research or a related field, such as business, mathematics, engineering, or computer science.

Because operations research is based on quantitative analysis, students need extensive coursework in mathematics. Coursework in computer science is important because analysts rely on statistical and database software to assess and model data.

Other Experience

Some operations research analysts are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Certain positions may require applicants to undergo a background check in order to obtain a security clearance.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Operations research analysts use a range of methods, including forecasting and data mining, to examine and interpret data.

Communication skills. Operations research analysts write memos, reports, and other documents and often present their data and conclusions to managers and other executives. They must be able to convey technical information in a way that is understandable to nontechnical audiences.

Critical-thinking skills. Operations research analysts must be able to organize information and make connections between ideas and facts.

Interpersonal skills. Operations research analysts typically work on teams. They also need to be able to persuade managers and executives to accept their recommendations.

Math skills. The models and methods used by operations research analysts are rooted in statistics, calculus, linear algebra, and other mathematics disciplines.

Problem-solving skills. Operations research analysts need to be able to diagnose problems and study relevant information to solve them.

Pay About this section

Operations Research Analysts

Median annual wages, May 2021

Mathematical science occupations

$98,680

Operations research analysts

$82,360

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for operations research analysts was $82,360 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,690, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $160,850.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for operations research analysts in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Federal government $120,950
Professional, scientific, and technical services 99,790
Manufacturing 98,040
Management of companies and enterprises 94,070
Finance and insurance 79,450

Most operations research analysts work full time.

Job Outlook About this section

Operations Research Analysts

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Mathematical science occupations

28%

Operations research analysts

25%

Total, all occupations

8%

 

Employment of operations research analysts is projected to grow 25 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 10,200 openings for operations research analysts are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

As technology advances and companies seek efficiency and cost savings, demand for operations research analysis should continue to grow. In addition, increasing demand should occur for these workers in the field of analytics to improve business planning and decision making.

Technological advances have made it faster and easier for organizations to get data. Operations research analysts manage and evaluate data to improve business operations, supply chains, pricing models, and marketing. In addition, improvements in analytical software have made operations research more affordable and applicable to a wider range of areas. More companies are expected to employ operations research analysts to help them turn data into information that managers use to make decisions about all aspects of their business.

Operations research analysts will continue to be needed to provide support for the Armed Forces and to assist in developing and implementing policies and programs in other areas of government.

Employment projections data for operations research analysts, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Operations research analysts

15-2031 104,100 129,700 25 25,600 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of operations research analysts.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2021 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Economists Economists

Economists collect and analyze data, research trends, and evaluate economic issues for resources, goods, and services.

Master's degree $105,630
Industrial engineers Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers devise efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.

Bachelor's degree $95,300
Logisticians Logisticians

Logisticians analyze and coordinate an organization’s supply chain.

Bachelor's degree $77,030
Management analysts Management Analysts

Management analysts recommend ways to improve an organization’s efficiency.

Bachelor's degree $93,000
Market research analysts Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts study market conditions to examine potential sales of a product or service.

Bachelor's degree $63,920
Software developers Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers

Software developers design computer applications or programs. Software quality assurance analysts and testers identify problems with applications or programs and report defects.  

Bachelor's degree The annual wage is not available.
Mathematicians Mathematicians and Statisticians

Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and apply computational techniques to solve problems.

Master's degree $96,280
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Operations Research Analysts,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/operations-research-analysts.htm (visited April 27, 2022).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, April 27, 2022

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2020

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2020, which is the base year of the 2020-30 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2020-30

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030. The average growth rate for all occupations is 8 percent.

Employment Change, 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.