What is an Operational Researcher (OR Analyst)?
Operations Researchers, also known as Operations Research Analysts (OR Analysts), are experts that provide organisations with quantitative and qualitative data. This data is then utilised to improve existing business strategies and make business decisions. They use quantitative and analytical tools to help make business processes and systems that work well.
Operations Research is a branch of applied science that deals with quantitative decision issues involving allocating and controlling resources that are limited in size or scope. These issues emerge in the functioning of industrial businesses, financial institutions, healthcare organisations, transportation networks, energy and resources, and government.
An Operations Research Analyst creates and applies mathematical and statistical models to assist in decision-making. They, like engineers, formulate and solve problems. Their work includes developing a mathematical model of a system and analysing and forecasting the effects of various modes of operation. Mathematical optimisation approaches, probabilistic and statistical methodologies, experiments, and computer simulations may all be used in the study.
OR is used by corporations of all sizes, as well as the government and other public sector agencies, charities, communities, and even individuals. OR helps people make decisions about strategy, tactics, and operations. It also helps people make decisions about public policy.
Depending on the situation, the benefits of OR could include a wide range of performance improvements, such as lowering costs, increasing revenue, saving lives, improving customer service, and lowering risks.
When OR is used, it leads to more productive systems based on rigorous data analysis, careful predictions of outcomes, and risk estimations, as well as a collaborative approach that includes all stakeholder groups.
Some common responsibilities of Operational Researchers include:
- Providing organisational management and stakeholders with advice on the effects of various solutions on company operations
- Collecting, analysing, and interpreting quantitative and qualitative data.
- Assisting with business decisions.
- Collaborating with department specialists to transform quantitative data into useful knowledge.
- Identifying and defining manufacturing, logistical, and sales business problems.
- Writing reports describing statistical analysis findings and recommendations for addressing a specific business problem.
- Utilising statistical analysis to analyse data and apply the outcomes of the study to provide realistic solutions to business challenges.
Operations Research Analysts' salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, geographic location, and the company's size and industry. The UK national average salary for an Operational Researcher is £43,589, ranging from £27,000 to £69,000. The average London salary for an Operational Researcher is £45,042, ranging from £29.000 to £70.000.
Working hours and work location
Operations Research Analysts spend most of their time at the office, but they may have to travel to meet with clients. The majority of Operations Research Analysts work full-time. OR Analysts assist organisations to manage the complexity of functioning in an increasingly competitive and lean world by answering critical questions. They operate in numerous industries, including oil, chemicals, steel, manufacturing, trains, power production, agriculture, airlines, banking and insurance, as well as defence, medical, and social services.
What to expect
Operations Research Analysts are high-level issue solvers that employ sophisticated problem-solving approaches such as optimisation, data mining, statistical analysis, and mathematical modelling to provide solutions that help firms and organisations function more efficiently and cost-effectively.
The majority of OR Analysts begin with a problem, which only sometimes implies that anything has gone wrong or is likely to go wrong. It might simply be that a choice must be made, or that the individual or group in charge of a certain task feels it could be done better. Following that, the inquiry proceeds in a series of more or less typical phases. The following are some common OR techniques:
- Analysis of Networks
- Programming in Linear Form
- Theory of Stock Control
- Statistical Evaluation
A bachelor’s degree in maths, business, or industrial engineering is common for entry-level professions. However, some organisations prefer candidates with a master’s degree. Graduate programmes in Operations Research, analytics, and management science are available. Some Operations Research Analysts have graduate or even better post-graduate degrees in other technical subjects such as engineering or Information Technologies. For an Operational Researcher it is critical to take maths and computer science courses and stay up with technology changes and new software and analytical approaches.
You may also train to be an Operational Researcher by completing a Level 7 Operational Support Specialist apprenticeship (equivalent to a Masters degree), which combines paid employment with part-time study.
Some major organisations have graduate training programmes where you may specialise in Operational Research. The Civil Service, for example, has a Government Operational Research Fast Stream Scheme.
Many firms need an MSc in OR prior to entrance, while others may pay new hires to pursue a Masters degree part-time.
Masters courses may be funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) or the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Some universities also provide scholarships. The OR Society offers two Masters degree scholarships valued up to £10,000 each year. They also host a Careers Open Day each November, which is attended by organisations actively hiring as well as institutions offering MSc programmes.
must have skills:
Some of the skills that you will have to acquire or possess in order to become a successful Operational Researcher include:
- Critical thinking: Operations management professionals will occasionally be required to operate under pressure and think quickly on their feet in order to discover answers to unforeseen business difficulties. They should have good critical thinking skills and be able to pick out the information they need for their job.
- Communication skills: As an Operational Researcher, you will need to communicate with stakeholders from different departments and coordinate with your team members and other staff. As a result, you must have strong communication abilities. Because communication is a two-way street, listening closely is just as crucial as speaking clearly, especially when dealing with facts.
- Mathematical reasoning: To translate quantitative data into valuable information and construct models, Operational Researchers must apply their analytical and mathematical talents. As a result, they must have great mathematical insights that will allow them to analyse data rapidly.
- Analytical skills: An Operations Researcher’s employment demands them to apply analytical abilities for trend forecasting, statistical analysis, data examination and interpretation, and data mining.
- Problem-solving abilities: Regardless of the industry, problem-solving abilities are required to carry out your responsibilities efficiently. Operational Researchers must be able to diagnose problems using the information presented and devise solutions to those difficulties.
Consider which industries you want to work in before obtaining your master's degree. AS previously noted, OR Analysts can find work in a wide range of industries. Some jobs, like the military, may require unique skills, and you can become an expert while you're still in college. Some jobs, like the military, may require unique skills, and you can become an expert while you're still in college. This might include doing an internship in a similar profession or taking optional classes that give in-depth knowledge on a subject.
You may assist analysts with research, documentation, or administrative tasks as an intern. Shadowing programmes allow you to visit businesses and monitor a professional’s schedule to learn more about work obligations for a short period of time, maybe a day or a week. Job shadowing programmes are an excellent way to assess whether a certain career path is right for you.
To get ready for an Operations Research Analyst job, you should practice analytical skills like finding and understanding data. While schooling can help you acquire many abilities, consider internships and job shadowing programmes where you can learn from professionals in the industry and gain hands-on experience.
Many research-analysis careers provide development opportunities for management or lead analyst positions. Consider furthering your education by taking college classes or attending industry conferences. Because this is a vocation that relies on continually evolving technology, it is critical to find strategies to keep your understanding of software and analytical procedures up to date. Networking with other experts might also help you develop in your job.
You may find available openings for Operations Research Analysts on job boards. Consider calling potential employers to check if they have any employment opportunities.
A well-written cover letter and resume will help you stand out to hiring managers and land an interview. It might be beneficial to go through the job description and customise each CV you submit for the position and company to which you are applying. One method is to use keywords from the job posting. In addition, your CV should cover all relevant job experience.
People in OR who have the right mix of skills and experience have a good chance of getting a promotion and good long-term prospects. If you stay in OR, you will eventually have the chance to manage a project or team. During this time, you will continue to do some analytical work on your own while also overseeing the work of other analysts. After that, the next logical step is to take over the management of an OR division.
It is possible to employ OR abilities outside of a pure OR function, for example, working in a production or marketing department or to specialise in a particular area of OR. Both of these options are open to you.
You also have the option of transitioning into a profession in general management. Due to the fact that a background in OR enables one to have great insight into the manner in which organisations work, the number of top managers and directors who possess such a background is growing.
You can also consider becoming a management consultant and working for yourself.
This programme is taught at the University of the West of Scotland’s London Campus, so you’ll be studying in the heart of the UK’s industry. This one-year, full-time programme is designed for students who have yet to gain experience with computers or information technology. The course will teach you critical IT skills that will help you prepare for an operational researcher position.