How to become an operations research analyst

December 06, 2022 · 4 min read · By ASU Online
Do you love data? Do you find it rewarding to closely examine information and analytics to extract the most relevant and useful facts? Are you looking for a career that focuses on using data to help an organization succeed? If so, read on to learn about how to become an operations research analyst.

What is an operations research analyst?

The process of researching and testing the efficiency of business operations dates back centuries. However, the term “operations research” was coined during World War II with British military planners’ efforts to integrate Air Force tactics with new radar technologies. Since World War II, organizations have prioritized and adopted the scientific, data-based techniques of operations research into their business practices.

Today, operations research analysts are professionals who help businesses operate more efficiently and cost-effectively through advanced data analysis. From a Cancer Center’s design for a radiation treatment plan to a shipping company’s charts on flow of packages, organizations across the globe are using operations research analysts to provide important business insights and advance their operations.


What does an operations research analyst do?

Operations research analysts are high-level problem-solvers who provide companies with important statistical insights on problems that affect a business’ health. The problems these professionals take on typically involve figuring out how a business should allocate resources or designing systems for effective operations.

Collecting information from various sources, such as computer databases, simulations or customer feedback records, operations research analysts evaluate data to provide sound advice to business leaders and key decision-makers. You may need to compose reports and presentations outlining your findings, explain the outcomes of the current course of action and produce alternative solutions to improve operational efficiency.

On a more granular level, your job duties as an operations research analyst may include:

  • Analyzing algorithms in computational geometry, robotics or geographic information systems.
  • Designing clinical health care trials.
  • Facilitating simulations to produce more energy- and cost-efficient manufacturing processes.
  • Forecasting power and utility demands.
  • Leading research in sustainable computing, cloud platform development and data applications.

Regardless of the sector in which you work, you can expect to harness data tools, such as AI, machine learning and predictive modeling to produce simulations, generate forecasts and provide practical solutions to organizational concerns.


The skills needed to become an operations research analyst

To secure a professional position in the operations research field, it’s imperative to possess a range of skills and competencies needed to gather, interpret and analyze data. 

Some of the required knowledge and skills you need to become an operations research analyst include:

  • Analytical research
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision making
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Problem solving
  • Strong mathematical knowledge to conduct simulation models, trend analysis and data reduction.


High demand for operations research analysts in the coming decade

The need for operations research analysts is growing, and more businesses are hiring full-time personnel to make profitable and sustainable decisions and maintain a competitive advantage in their markets.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for operations research analysts is projected to grow 23% from 2021 to 2031. This is 18% faster than the national growth rate for all occupations. The BLS also projects an average of 10,300 new job openings for operations research analysts every year through 2031.

Overall, pursuing a career as an operations research analyst is a smart decision and is accompanied with many opportunities for hiring and growth within the field.


Operations research analyst salary

The operations research field pays well above the median salary for all jobs in America. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the 2021 median salary for operations research analysts was $82,360. This is $36,600 more than the May 2021 median salary for all workers ($45,760).


Earn your online degree from Arizona State University

As shown, there’s high demand for operations research analysts, and it’s a career that can pay well above average. Prepare for the role with a degree program that provides in-depth exploration into strategic planning, data and simulation analysis and measurement validation procedures. 

Enrolling in a relevant bachelor’s program will aid in expanding your problem-solving, critical thinking and communication proficiencies and prepare you for presenting clear, practical solutions to business leaders. ASU Online offers several relevant bachelor’s degree including:

If you’re interested in advancing your career in operations research, ASU Online also offers the Master of Science in business analytics. You’ll collect, evaluate and manipulate data to drive strategic decision analysis. Throughout your courses, you’ll have the opportunity to explore key industry topics, such as data modeling, machine learning, predictive analytics and data visualization, to drive more precise and results-driven decisions. With the rapid growth rate of operations research analyst positions, securing a graduate degree in business analytics can enable you to stand apart from other candidates and attain leadership roles within the field.

Everything you need to know about ASU Online classes and degree programs

We’ve compiled what you need to know about online classes and degree programs at Arizona State University. Read on to learn all about what to expect from the ASU Online learning experience.


About ASU Online

Earn your degree completely online from the nation's most innovative university. ASU Online offers more than 300 degree programs and certificates in high-demand areas such as nursing, engineering, business, education and more. Explore all of our areas of study.

Our offerings include:

  • Elite expertise and research.
  • Innovative curriculum design.
  • Superior student support services.

Learn more at our about us page. And follow ASU Online on Facebook, YouTube, X and Instagram, and connect with us on LinkedIn.

Step 1 of 2

Request information

To learn more about ASU Online or a specific program, fill out the form below and check your email for information on next steps.

* Indicates a required field