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Operations Research Analysts

At a Glance

  • Use math to help organizations solve problems
  • Prepare reports and presentations
  • Are heavy computer users
  • May work overtime to meet project deadlines
  • Have at least a bachelor's degree

Career summary

Operations research analysts help organizations solve problems. They use mathematical models to make decisions.

Operations research analysts may also be called researchers, research analysts, management science analysts, and operations researchers.

Analysts start by learning as much as they can about the problem they are trying to solve. They define the problem, given what they know. Analysts talk to people whose work might be affected by any changes they make.

Once they have gathered the information they need, analysts begin to evaluate it. They create a solution and analyze it using a mathematical model. The model takes into account how different factors relate to each other. Analysts revise the model as they change their solution.

When they have a solution, analysts prepare reports and present them to the organization. The reports define the problem, evaluate it, and propose possible solutions. They include information about the time and money needed to make the proposed changes. Analysts may work with others in the organization to carry out the plan.

Operations research analysts must keep up with new developments in the fields of operations research and computer science.

Operations research is also called management science or decision technology.

Related careers

This career is part of the Business Management and Administration cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to operations research analysts.

Common work activities

Operations research analysts perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, operations research analysts:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Operations research analysts frequently:

It is important for operations research analysts to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for operations research analysts to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Operations research analysts need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as an operations research analyst, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Most operations research analysts have at least a bachelor's degree. Several fields of study provide good preparation for this occupation. These include computer science, economics, math, and statistics. Common areas of study are operations research, business administration, computer and information science, math, and engineering. A master's degree in computer science or operations research is an excellent way to prepare for this occupation.

Regardless of major, you should take courses in computer science and programming. This is because you use computers to run the complex models done in operations research.

On-the-job training

New graduates work under the guidance of experienced operations research analysts. In large companies, you may also receive formal classroom training. You work on more difficult tasks and get more independence in your work as you gain knowledge and experience. The length of training varies by employer. In general, you may receive up to several years of additional training, although less time is more common.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to be management analysts and planners. This occupation is related to operations research. You need a bachelor's degree to enter this military occupation. Training lasts from six to ten weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements. Operations research analysts need a strong background in math. Take as many math courses as you can.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers strongly prefer to hire people with at least a bachelor's degree. Degrees in both operations research and computer science are especially desirable. Employers prefer workers who can think logically and who have good communication skills.

Entry-level positions in Washington State government require a four-year college degree, including college coursework in statistics, or a bachelor's degree and one year of experience in statistics or a related field. Government researchers are hired from a register of qualified applicants. A competitive examination may be required to be placed on the register. Policy research applicants often face keen competition for positions and an advanced degree is preferred. Familiarity with an agency, a college major, or experience in a field related to the agency's work is helpful.

#Entry level state jobs still have requirements mentioned above, 3/14/07, CJ & 3/9/11, 4/11/13, 12/12/16, 4/8/19 cj.


Seek project or temporary positions to gain experience. Conduct informational interviews with people who are doing research. They can give you a good idea of the skills needed to do the job.

Costs to workers

Workers may wish to join a professional association, which may have annual dues.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Operations research analysts (SOC 15-2031)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $28.55 $34.73 $44.15 $53.92 $62.14
Monthly $4,948 $6,019 $7,651 $9,344 $10,769
Yearly $59,380 $72,250 $91,840 $112,160 $129,250
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $35.18 $40.17 $48.27 $55.24 $63.46
Monthly $6,097 $6,961 $8,365 $9,573 $10,998
Yearly $73,183 $83,551 $100,384 $114,899 $131,983
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $21.79 $24.40 $28.52 $31.56 $39.19
Monthly $3,776 $4,229 $4,943 $5,469 $6,792
Yearly $45,330 $50,745 $59,322 $65,639 $81,521
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $24.95 $27.79 $32.18 $41.07 $49.68
Monthly $4,324 $4,816 $5,577 $7,117 $8,610
Yearly $51,884 $57,786 $66,929 $85,442 $103,328
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $32.22 $38.46 $46.92 $56.55 $63.92
Monthly $5,584 $6,665 $8,131 $9,800 $11,077
Yearly $67,021 $80,003 $97,590 $117,624 $132,964
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $22.41 $25.67 $34.36 $45.94 $55.36
Monthly $3,884 $4,449 $5,955 $7,961 $9,594
Yearly $46,613 $53,390 $71,474 $95,553 $115,136
    Vancouver Hourly $26.62 $32.53 $40.12 $50.61 $62.85
Monthly $4,613 $5,637 $6,953 $8,771 $10,892
Yearly $55,369 $67,661 $83,450 $105,254 $130,721
    Yakima Hourly $27.54 $39.16 $48.16 $57.35 $63.92
Monthly $4,773 $6,786 $8,346 $9,939 $11,077
Yearly $57,282 $81,444 $100,188 $119,288 $132,962
United States Hourly $22.50 $29.46 $40.09 $52.73 $65.51
Monthly $3,899 $5,105 $6,948 $9,138 $11,353
Yearly $46,810 $61,280 $83,390 $109,670 $136,250

Wages vary by employer and area of the country.

Operations research analysts who work full time usually receive benefits. Common benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, health insurance, and a retirement plan.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Operations Research Analysts (SOC 15-2031)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 3,221 21.4% 16.1% 344
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 14 21.4% 8.6% 1
    Benton and Franklin Counties 63 38.1% 15.0% 9
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 14 21.4% 11.9% 1
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 26 34.6% 15.2% 4
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 276 4.0% 14.1% 18
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 13 38.5% 14.6% 1
    King County 1,820 30.2% 19.6% 232
    Pierce County 228 18.4% 15.2% 22
    Snohomish County 596 14.9% 12.4% 55
    Spokane County 47 21.3% 13.9% 5
United States 109,700 25.7% 5.2% 10,900

National employment

Most operations research analysts who work for the federal government work for the armed forces. In addition, many analysts in private industry work on projects related to national defense.

Major employers:

People trained to be operations research analysts often have different job titles. These include operations analyst, management analyst, systems analyst, and policy analyst.

National outlook

Demand for this occupation is expected to grow significantly. Companies use operations research analysts to help improve productivity and reduce costs. For example, analysts will be needed to help businesses improve their manufacturing operations and logistics. Operations research analysts will continue to be needed to provide support for our nation's military.

Job openings will also occur as people retire from this occupation.

Other resources

Career FAQ about OR/Analytics (external link)
Engineer Girl! (external link)
National Academy of Engineering
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (external link)
5521 Research Park Drive, Suite 200
Catonsville, MD 21228
Mathematical Sciences Career Information (external link)
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (external link)
3600 Market Street, 6th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Society of Women Engineers (external link)
130 East Randolph Street, Suite 3500
Chicago, IL 60601
Technology Student Association (external link)
1904 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191-1540
Washington Business Week (external link)
PO Box 1170
Renton, WA 98057
Washington State Science & Engineering Fair (external link)


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Holland occupational cluster