For people with the right skills and mindset, operations analysis can be an extremely rewarding field
Operations analysts are often referred to as operations research analysts, which describes the job quite effectively. In this role, you’ll research company operations to help management make decisions, reformulate policies, adjust logistics, and make changes to streamline operations. This is a highly data-driven field emphasizing mathematics, simulation models, data validation, and analytics, all for the purpose of identifying and correcting problems.
Because they work in a technical field, analysts in today’s fast-paced environments are always building their skill sets and learning about industry trends and new technology. The following information will help you learn more about this career path.
Why pursue a career as an operations analyst?
Working as an operations analyst is an interesting career for people who enjoy handling data and doing investigative work. It’s also financially rewarding and easy to pursue. Entry-level operations analyst positions typically require only a bachelor’s degree, and while some schools offer degree programs focused on operations research, you don’t necessarily need a degree specific to the field. Because an operations research career involves a great deal of mathematics, employers are looking for students with backgrounds in statistics, calculus, algebra, and computer science. Courses on these topics are offered in a variety of degree programs.
In this field, you can expect many benefits, including those detailed below.
Operations analysts have a lot of options, both with regard to industries and particular niches within them. Government, health care, manufacturing, and many other sectors need analysts to identify and resolve problems, and you might be called on to work on many different kinds of issues. For example, you might focus on solving logistical challenges by finding the most effective way to distribute products or developing more effective production schedules.
For people who prefer a career that doesn’t demand long hours or lots of travel, operations analysis may be a good fit. The position typically offers a stable day-to-day routine centered on work in an office. Business trips are minimal and limited mainly to conferences and forays into the field or to job sites to make observations or gather data directly.
Part of a team
Problem-solving in a business setting is a multidisciplinary function requiring people with many different skills to effectively identify issues and propose solutions. As an operations analyst, you’ll likely be part of a larger team working together to make improvements to company processes.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for operations analysts in 2019 was $84,810 — more than twice the median annual wage across all professions. Depending on the sector, some opportunities may pay even more.
Industry trends for operations analysts
Many of the trends in this industry are in the digital sphere, including more effective methods of analyzing data and creating predictive models. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are becoming more important as major corporations look for solutions to efficiently digitize outdated processes. Here are some trends you should keep your eye on:
Among large corporations, the movement toward adopting modern digital processes has been slow and difficult, yet most companies are aware of the need to upgrade their practices. Operations analysts will play a major role in this transformation. These projects may involve the use of innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Research from Gartner Inc. reveals that digitalization and technology enablement rank among the top concerns for CEOs. A full 17% identified this as a business priority for 2019 and 2020.
Operations analysts can expect to be at the forefront of this trend. Their skills will be needed to develop and implement plans for digitalization and engage in careful observation throughout the implementation process so they can help create solutions as problems arise.
With growing numbers of purchases being made online, businesses are beginning to realize that companies that offer the best online consumer experience will be the most competitive. Operations analysts can expect many future opportunities in the digital sphere, helping to create customer experiences that keep buyers coming back.
Recent technological innovations in machine learning and AI mean that much of the forecasting and data analysis previously done by operations analysts is now done by computers. However, humans are still needed to add empathetic elements to the problem-solving process, and operations analysts are needed to develop creative solutions to problems that can’t be solved by machines.
This means analyst jobs will start to shift from data analysis and forecasting to oversight of digital forecasting systems, as well as creative problem-solving of complex issues.
Areas of opportunity for operations analysts
Most operations analysts work for major corporations. The selection of industries and sectors in which these positions are present is quite diverse, with opportunities ranging from government to manufacturing.
Popular career areas for operations analysts
Department of Defense
Company and enterprise management
Scientific and technical services
What kinds of operations analyst positions are available?
Most operations analyst jobs require a bachelor’s degree, but at the upper end of the field, a master’s degree or higher may be required. These jobs involve investigating all aspects of company or organizational management and require good research skills, analytical skills, and creative thinking.
Data from the BLS shows that as of 2019, there were 105,100 people employed as operations analysts. This field is predicted to see a large amount of growth — as much as 25% by 2029, which means 26,100 new operations analyst jobs.
Here are examples of the types of positions and salaries you can find at both the entry and advanced levels of this field.
Entry-level operations analyst jobs
Entry-level operations analyst positions offer opportunities to specialize in many different fields. These positions typically offer robust salaries and often require a bachelor’s degree.
Market research analyst
Advanced operations analyst jobs
For advanced jobs, a master’s degree may be required. Many of these positions are highly specialized and available only in certain industries — for example, industrial engineers or software developers specializing in technology development.
Mathematician or statistician
Top skills and digital tools for operations analysts
Operations analysts are deeply involved in how a business accomplishes its goals. Employers look for a broad range of skills when evaluating applications. We’ve compiled research to show what the fastest-growing skill trends are for operations analysts through 2023.
Fast-growing analyst skills
Demand for these skills is projected to grow rapidly:
Although Microsoft Excel is the tool of choice for many analysts, the following tools are being used with increasing frequency:
Operations analyst internships
Internships can help you achieve quick success after graduation. You’ll be able to gain experience in your specific industry, which is attractive to potential employers. Some companies offering internships in operations analysis are:
Internships are a great way to add experience to your resume as you pursue a career in accounting. Some employers that have internship programs include:
Industry associations provide networking opportunities than can help accelerate your career. They also help keep you up to date on industry knowledge as well as job opportunities. Some associations for operations analysts are:
Operations analysis is an exciting area for people who love analytics, big data, creative solutions, and innovation. This career rewards you not only with personal satisfaction but great pay, too. It’s a rapidly growing field because analysts are in high demand across a variety of sectors. If you have the right skills, you’ll enjoy a wide selection of opportunities.
This field will continue to grow. If you want to have a competitive edge, you’ll need connections to educators and employers — and that’s where we can help.