Becoming an Operations Analyst
So you think you might like to become an operations analyst. Operations analysts, also called operations research analysts, are highly skilled professionals responsible for one or more aspects of performance problem-solving. Operations analysts must synthesize vast amounts of diverse information and often work closely with management and engineering departments.
These professionals are able to work in a wide variety of industries. They often work in teams and usually in a comfortable office environment, though sometimes they must go out into the field to gather data or observe processes directly. Since the analysis these professionals provide is often required to solve important problems, they often have to deal with the stress of deadlines. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that operations research analysts could expect to see a significant increase in job opportunities by up to 27% between 2012 and 2022.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree required for entry-level positions; master's degree preferred by most employers|
|Degree Field||Operations research, management science, or other technical fields|
|Experience||2-5 years of related experience may be preferred by employers|
|Key Skills||Analytical, verbal communication, mathematical, problem-solving, interpersonal, critical-thinking, and written communication skills; knowledge of related software, such as statistical and modeling packages|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerBuilder job listings (September 2012), O*NET OnLine
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
The minimum requirement for many entry-level positions as an operations analyst is a bachelor's degree. Students can find a variety of bachelor's degree programs related to this career, including the Bachelor of Science in Statistics and Operations Research. Operations analysis is a multidisciplinary field, so it can also be helpful to take courses in economics, finance, statistics, accounting, political science, and engineering while pursuing a degree in operations research, computer science, or a related field.
Participate in an internship. Internships can help prospective analysts acquire additional training and real-world work experience. Some positions that require only a bachelor's degree expect applicants to have work experience, and an internship can provide a head start.
Step 2: Earn a Graduate Degree
In 2012, O*Net OnLine reported that about 70% of operations research analysts held a graduate or doctoral degree. Related master's degree programs are available in a variety of areas, including operations research, management science, computer science, business, applied mathematics, engineering, and information systems. Doctoral degree programs, such as the Doctor of Philosophy in Operations Research, are also available.
Common coursework in graduate degree programs related to operations analysis includes dynamic programming, statistical theories, and nonlinear programming. Graduate programs may also offer different degree concentrations or elective coursework, such as optimization, management, or logistics.
Step 3: Gain Experience
Many employers offer some formal on-the-job training to their new analysts. Thinking creatively and working well within a team are also essential skills. Entry-level positions often involve performing routine calculations under the supervision of analysts with more experience. Analysts often work in teams because the discipline requires knowledge from many different fields.
Step 4: Continuing Education Courses
Because advances in information technology move so rapidly, it's important to stay current in the field. Operations analysts can find continuing education courses through professional organizations, like the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) or other academic institutions. Common courses cover topics that include various types of system behaviors modeling and data analysis.
Earning a bachelor's degree, pursuing a graduate degree, gaining work experience, and continuing your education are the steps to take to make the most of a career as an operations analyst.