Sound business decisions are based on reliable, timely and relevant information. Operations research analysts translate their research results into advice that affects business decisions, making these employees an essential part of any organization. Those with an online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) degree from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business are positioned to enjoy data analytics’ increasing importance to companies. As demonstrated below, not only will they experience good job potential, but operations research analyst salaries are much higher than the national average.
What Is an Operations Research Analyst?
Business decision-makers rely on guidance from teams of analysts and other sources inside and outside of the organization. Operations research analysts work with managers to identify and anticipate problems related to business processes, logistics and other company operations. They then collect relevant information from databases, sales records, customer surveys and other sources. Research analysts then apply mathematical models, simulations and predictive analyses to the information to generate potential solutions to business problems. The possible outcomes are presented to managers via memos, reports and presentations.
Why Are Operations Research Analysts Valuable to Society?
Operations research analysts are at the forefront of the digital transformation that affects nearly all aspects of a company’s day-to-day functioning. Businesses are challenged to keep pace with the plethora of information that consumers, the government and other businesses generate. To tame the data deluge entering business information systems, operations research analysts apply data mining, statistical analysis and mathematical models to gather meaningful intelligence that points decision-makers to potential solutions to real business problems.
Examples of the ways operations research analysts make life better for people and businesses include modeling package delivery routes to improve delivery times, analyzing the effectiveness of radiation treatment plans to minimize harmful side effects to patients, and creating models of cellphone use patterns to help carriers reduce line congestion and dropped calls. Business leaders need quality data on which to base their decisions which is relevant to the matter at hand and delivered on time. Providing this decision-support information is the responsibility of operations research analysts.
Operations Research Analyst Job Duties and Work Environment
Among the business processes operations research analysts examine are resource allocation, production schedules, price setting and logistics. Their analyses involve sophisticated statistical software and other data analytics tools and techniques. The methods are intended to model various outcomes based on slight changes in data, such as seasonal cost and sales level fluctuations. Most business decisions depend on accurate cost-benefit analyses that factor in potential tradeoffs and uncertainties.
Operations research analysts generally work full time in an office and do little traveling for work, with the exception of those working as contractors who must travel to their clients’ sites. The job also entails observing processes throughout the organization and interacting with the managers and workers involved to get a clear sense of the operations.
Salary and Job Growth Statistics
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports operations research analyst salaries at a median of $83,390 annually, as of May 2018, with the top 10 percent earning $136,250. Demand for operations research analysts continues to grow as companies depend increasingly on data analytics to drive their marketing strategies and business decisions. The BLS forecasts that operations research analyst jobs will grow by 27 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than the projected 7 percent average for all jobs in the same period.
Operations research analysts working for the federal government earned a median annual salary of $113,920, according to BLS figures. However, the federal government employs only 5 percent of operations research analysts, compared with 28 percent working in the finance or insurance industries and 22 percent working in professional, scientific and technical services.
How to Become an Operations Research Analyst
The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) says that a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, business or engineering is considered the minimum education requirement for entry-level operations research analyst positions. However, few schools offer undergraduate degrees in operations research, so companies often prefer job candidates who hold a master’s degree in business administration, management science or analytics.
The online MSBA program that Maryland Smith offers is well suited for aspiring operations research analysts. Students gain experience in quantitative modeling, data mining, SQL and other tools used to extract useful intelligence to support business forecasting and management decision-making. Included in the MSBA curriculum are courses in Health Informatics and Information Technologies, Advanced Marketing Analytics and Supply Chain Risk Management.
The BLS emphasizes the need for operations research analysts to develop experience in a range of fields, especially since business operations management encompasses economics, politics, engineering and communications. Among the skills required to achieve the highest operations research analyst salaries are problem-solving, interpersonal communication, report writing, and critical and analytical thinking. Earning the MSBA from Maryland Smith can help graduates develop these essential skills.
Continuing Education and Advancement as an Operations Research Analyst
The tremendous pace of technological change affecting all aspects of business requires that operations research analysts stay abreast of new techniques and tools that might impact their work. As such, professionals hoping to stay ahead of the competition should consider the advantages of continuing their education through Maryland Smith’s online MSBA program, where they train in the technical and leadership skills coveted by hiring organizations.
U.S. News & World Report states that operations research analyst salary increases and opportunities for career advancement are above average. The BLS points out that job prospects are brightest for operations research analysts who hold a master’s or doctoral degree in operations research, management science or a related field. Other skills that employers prize when recruiting operations research analysts include business experience and data analytics expertise, especially prescriptive and predictive analytics.
Learn More About Operations Research Analyst Salaries
Operations research analyst salaries are expected to grow for people with the skills and experience needed to convert mountains of raw data into actionable intelligence that drives sound business decision-making. Job candidates who hold a graduate degree from the online MSBA program at University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business can have an edge in the competition for top operations research analyst positions. Learn more about the MSBA curriculum and how it prepares students for bright careers as operations research analysts.