In Summary - Operations Research Analyst
Operations Research Analysts typically work in the following Career Sectors:
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The Work - Operations Research Analyst
Operational researchers look closely at how organisations work. They use their findings to help managers improve systems and processes, and solve any problems. Researchers use a logical, scientific approach to their work. They may deal with long-term plans for an organisation, or help with more immediate decisions.
Operational researchers use their skills in many different situations. For example, they may help a supermarket to decide where to locate a new superstore, forecast demand for a new airline, or help a manufacturing company to decide how many people it needs to recruit. They may plan how to re-route a bus service or change stock control procedures.
The researchers' main tasks are to define problems, set out their aims and expectations, collect and examine as much information as possible, and then come up with clear, practical solutions.
First, a researcher may carry out a survey or study to examine the problem from every angle. Then, they produce one or more plans, helping managers to see the advantages and disadvantages of each one. Researchers often use mathematics, statistics or computing to arrive at their solutions. A typical technique is to convert the organisation's system into a mathematical model. Researchers often use computers to test solutions against data.
Operational researchers work with people at all levels throughout the organisation, interviewing them to find out their needs, concerns and opinions.
At the end of the survey, operational researchers present their reports to company directors or senior managers; they recommend any changes. Operational researchers can also play a very important role in putting into practice the ideas and solutions they have suggested.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Formulate mathematical or simulation models of problems, relating constants and variables, restrictions, alternatives, conflicting objectives, and their numerical parameters.
- Collaborate with senior managers and decision makers to identify and solve a variety of problems and to clarify management objectives.
- Collaborate with others in the organization to ensure successful implementation of chosen problem solutions.
- Prepare management reports defining and evaluating problems and recommending solutions.
- Study and analyze information about alternative courses of action to determine which plan will offer the best outcomes.
- Specify manipulative or computational methods to be applied to models.
- Perform validation and testing of models to ensure adequacy and reformulate models as necessary.
- Define data requirements and gather and validate information, applying judgment and statistical tests.
- Analyze information obtained from management to conceptualize and define operational problems.
- Observe the current system in operation and gather and analyze information about each of the parts of component problems, using a variety of sources.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Interests - Operations Research Analyst
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and are drawn to commerce, trade and making deals. Some pursue sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or in management roles in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
You should enjoy solving problems, and have a logical, methodical and analytical mind. You'll also need to be creative and imaginative, to think up several solutions to a problem.
Operational researchers need strong mathematical skills and the ability to use computers to construct models, combined with a good awareness of how business and industry work.
Good communication skills will help you to work closely with people at all levels throughout an organisation, and to present your findings and proposals to management teams. These skills should include the ability to write clear, concise reports.
You'll need negotiating skills and persuasive abilities to present the case for your suggestions.
Operational researchers should be able to cope with pressure, as they often work to deadlines.
Entry Requirements - Operations Research Analyst
A wide range of Level 8 degree subjects may be acceptable for this job role, in particular - maths, statistics, economics, engineering, computer studies, and business studies. Certain 'numerate' social sciences, such as psychology are also valued.
Operational research courses are sometimes offered as options within other degrees, especially computing, mathematics/statistics and production management.
Postgraduate programmes which include operational researchare available, such as MSc in Management of Operations (DCU) MSc in Business Analytics (UCD).
Some employers have graduate training schemes, which may include the opportunity to study towards an MSc on a part-time basis. On the job training is common with most employers in this area.
Last Updated: October, 2014
Pay & Salary - Operations Research Analyst
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 25k - 65k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Operations Research Analyst
Employment growth was strong for this occupation and there is evidence that employers are finding it difficult to find suitable candidates in the available labour market. Demand appears to relate primarily to the IT and financial sectors.
National Skills Bulletin 2018