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The Job Explosion in Operations Research Analysis

August 1, 2017

Companies today rely on data as a driver for innovation and decision-making. That has led to a growth in jobs for data scientists across many different careers.

One of the biggest job growth areas is operations research analysis. Organizations need employees with knowledge in analytics to solve complex issues. They also identify areas where data can make operations more efficient.

It’s a career field that offers stability and growth for those with a data science degree.

30% Growth for Operations Research Analysis

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the primary source for statistics and projections related to jobs in the United States. The BLS ranks operations research analyst among the hottest jobs in the country.

The BLS projects the average rate of job growth between 2014 and 2024 for all professions at about 8 percent. That number is 30% for operations research analysts.

Almost 28,000 new jobs are expected in the field. That will raise the total number of operations research analyst jobs to almost 119,000.

The popularity of the professions comes with substantial pay. The BLS reported a median salary of $79,200 for operations research analysts in May 2016. The top 10 % in the job earned $132,660.

Jobs also are available in both the public and private sectors. Those working for the federal government made a median salary of $109,770 in May 2016, according to the BLS. Operations research analysts also worked in manufacturing, finance, insurance and for technology and scientific organizations.

What Operations Research Analysts Do

The jobs duties for an operations research analyst can vary from industry to industry. Different departments within organizations also have different needs. However, the following job duties are typical in this field.

Identifying areas of improvement. Regardless of industry, analysts work on complex problems that have an impact on a variety or areas of an organization or business. Examples include improving communications among healthcare workers in different departments at a hospital or identifying target consumer demographic groups for marketing campaigns.

Collecting data. Analysts develop systems to properly collect data, often from disparate systems. A challenge they often face is bringing together massive amounts of data, with differing formats, from a wide variety of sources so that it can be used in a meaningful way.

Analyzing Data. Analysts use proven methods to interpret data and make recommendations for action. This can include simulations, predictive modeling and statistical interpretation.

Determining Focus. Companies now have more data than ever in history to use for making decisions. One of the biggest problems business leaders face is knowing what data to consider. Data scientists bring expertise to the table in determining not only what to consider but also the data to ignore.

Getting Into the Profession

Innovations in technology and data analysis has led to universities offering a variety of data-related degrees. Qualifying for entry-level jobs in operations research analysis requires a bachelor’s degree. Typical coursework revolves around extensive education in mathematics and computer science.

Higher level jobs require a master’s degree. That is why many universities now offer degree programs at the master’s level in data science. Some, such as Merrimack College, offer online degree programs in data science. Such programs allow students to better schedule classwork around their personal and professional lives.

Master degree programs in data science can vary in terms of curriculum and focus. Merrimack College focuses more on application of data science to real-world challenges. Students gain experience in data management, statistical analysis, predictive modeling, machine learning and data visualization.

Advancement in technology has dramatically changed the way organizations make decisions. With these innovations expected to continue in the coming years, organizations need people with the skills to understand how to leverage technology and utilize the data that is now so readily available. Because of this, the job trend in operations research analysis should continue as well. It provides yet another meaningful career opportunity for those with degrees in data science.