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What Operations Research Analysts Do About this section

Operations research analysts
Operations research analysts advise managers and other decision makers on the appropriate course of action to solve a problem.

Operations research analysts use mathematics and logic to help organizations make informed decisions and solve problems.


Operations research analysts typically do the following:

  • Identify problems in areas such as business, logistics, healthcare, or other fields
  • Collect and organize information from a variety of sources, such as databases, sales histories, and customer feedback
  • Gather input from workers or subject-matter experts
  • Analyze collected data and extract information relevant to the problem being addressed
  • Develop and test quantitative models, support software, and analytical tools
  • Write memos, reports, and other documents explaining their findings and recommendations for managers, executives, and other officials

Operations research analysts may be involved in many aspects of an organization. For example, they may help managers decide how to allocate resources, develop production schedules, oversee the supply chain, and set prices.

To begin a project, analysts first identify the problem to be solved or the processes to be improved. They typically collect data and interview clients, workers, or others involved in the business processes being examined.

Analysts then break down the problem into its various parts using statistical and database software and analytical techniques, such as forecasting and data mining. They also study the effect that different changes and circumstances would have on each of these parts. For example, to help an airline schedule flights and set ticket prices, analysts may take into account the cities involved, the amount and cost of fuel required, the expected number of passengers, the pilots’ schedules, and the maintenance costs.

Operations research analysts provide alternatives to pursuing different actions and may assist in achieving a consensus on how to proceed. They weigh the costs and benefits of alternative solutions or approaches in their recommendations to managers.

Work Environment About this section

Operations research analysts
Operations research analysts typically work in an office setting.

Operations research analysts held about 104,100 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of operations research analysts were as follows:

Finance and insurance 27%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 22
Management of companies and enterprises 9
Manufacturing 6
Federal government 6

Some operations research analysts in the federal government work for the Department of Defense, which also employs analysts through private consulting firms.

Operations research analysts spend much of their time in office settings. They may travel to gather information, observe business processes, work with clients, or attend conferences.

Work Schedules

Most operations research analysts work full time.

How to Become an Operations Research Analyst About this section

Operations research analysts
Operations research analysts typically need at least a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation.

Operations research analysts typically need at least a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation. Some employers require or prefer that applicants have a master’s degree. Analysts may need a degree in operations research or a related field, such as applied mathematics.


Operations research analysts typically need at least a bachelor’s degree, but some jobs require a master’s degree. Fields of degree may include operations research or a related field, such as business, mathematics, engineering, or computer science.

Because operations research is based on quantitative analysis, students need extensive coursework in mathematics. Coursework in computer science is important because analysts rely on statistical and database software to assess and model data.

Other Experience

Some operations research analysts are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Certain positions may require applicants to undergo a background check in order to obtain a security clearance.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Operations research analysts use a range of methods, including forecasting and data mining, to examine and interpret data.

Communication skills. Operations research analysts write memos, reports, and other documents and often present their data and conclusions to managers and other executives. They must be able to convey technical information in a way that is understandable to nontechnical audiences.

Critical-thinking skills. Operations research analysts must be able to organize information and make connections between ideas and facts.

Interpersonal skills. Operations research analysts typically work on teams. They also need to be able to persuade managers and executives to accept their recommendations.

Math skills. The models and methods used by operations research analysts are rooted in statistics, calculus, linear algebra, and other mathematics disciplines.

Problem-solving skills. Operations research analysts need to be able to diagnose problems and study relevant information to solve them.

Pay About this section

Operations Research Analysts

Median annual wages, May 2021

Mathematical science occupations


Operations research analysts


Total, all occupations



The median annual wage for operations research analysts was $82,360 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,690, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $160,850.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for operations research analysts in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Federal government $120,950
Professional, scientific, and technical services 99,790
Manufacturing 98,040
Management of companies and enterprises 94,070
Finance and insurance 79,450

Most operations research analysts work full time.

Job Outlook About this section

Operations Research Analysts

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Mathematical science occupations


Operations research analysts


Total, all occupations



Employment of operations research analysts is projected to grow 25 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 10,200 openings for operations research analysts are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


As technology advances and companies seek efficiency and cost savings, demand for operations research analysis should continue to grow. In addition, increasing demand should occur for these workers in the field of analytics to improve business planning and decision making.

Technological advances have made it faster and easier for organizations to get data. Operations research analysts manage and evaluate data to improve business operations, supply chains, pricing models, and marketing. In addition, improvements in analytical software have made operations research more affordable and applicable to a wider range of areas. More companies are expected to employ operations research analysts to help them turn data into information that managers use to make decisions about all aspects of their business.

Operations research analysts will continue to be needed to provide support for the Armed Forces and to assist in developing and implementing policies and programs in other areas of government.

Employment projections data for operations research analysts, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Operations research analysts

15-2031 104,100 129,700 25 25,600 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about operations research analysts, visit

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

Military Operations Research Society


Operations Research Analysts