Woman Learning Data Analytics

Recently, we explained what you can do with a Master’s Degree in Data Analytics, what jobs you can get with the degree, and why you should consider getting your degree in this field.

Today, we’ll discuss how to start a career as an operations research analyst, which is one of the best jobs for people who hold a Master’s Degree in Data Analytics.

This guide will cover why you should consider a career in operations analysis, including what you'd be expected to do on the job, why you'll need to complete a related degree before attempting to land this job, and what you can do to improve your chances of success.

After you’ve read about becoming an operations analyst, please fill out our information request form to learn more about our online Bachelor's Degree in Management Information Systems & Business Analytics or our online Master of Science in Data Analytics

If you’re ready to get started, submit your application today.

What Is An Operations Research Analyst?

According to Glassdoor, an operations research analyst is an individual who works to improve the effectiveness of operational activities in organizations. To accomplish this objective, operations analysts have to be well-versed in mathematics, data analysis, and information technology principles and best practices.

Why? Operations analysts are the individuals in charge of gathering data from various parts of the organization and analyzing that data to gain insights into what the organization does well, where it’s having issues or problems, and what can be done to improve performance.

The primary goal of an operations analyst is to help improve the efficiency of the organization by implementing data-driven changes that lead to real performance improvements. You can think of operations analysts as the people in charge of developing data-based business strategies used to assist the organization in meeting its objectives.

If you're serious about becoming an operations analyst, then you should consider specializing in a discipline like data analytics.

Is Operations Analyst a Good Career Choice?

Operations analysis is an excellent career option for individuals with strong analytical skills and a passion for problem-solving. 

This field offers opportunities to work in various industries, including manufacturing, technology, banking and finance, health care, and retail.

Operations analysts can apply their methodology to virtually any process, product, or service, so their skills are useful to nearly every single organization.

Here are some additional advantages to becoming an operations analyst:

  • Operations analysts are highly valued employees because their work is so critical to the organization, and because their work results in tangible outcomes such as cost savings, process improvements, and increased efficiency.
  • Operations analysts can expect to earn a great salary. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for operations research analysts in 2020 was $86,200.
  • The job market is improving and expanding rapidly. Jobs in this field are expected to grow by 25% between 2020 and 2030, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (much faster than average).

An operations analyst searches for trends and patterns in data using their knowledge of statistics, computer programming, and databases. They do this to look for ways to boost an organization’s efficiency, help plan for future growth, and troubleshoot issues that the organization may be experiencing.

In this way, you can think of operations research analysts as being problem solvers, or optimizers, since the entire purpose of the role is to improve performance, however, and wherever possible.

The operations analyst position is an excellent choice for those looking to begin or advance their career in data analytics. This job entails converting raw data into useful information that can be used to drive business decisions, making it an excellent niche for anyone studying data analytics. 

As technology advances and we all continue to generate more data, it’s expected that the demand for skilled analysts capable of making sense of all the data available will continue to rise.

Because operations analysts' work is crucial to organizational success, many employers looking to hire operations research analysts will require that job candidates have a degree in a related field, such as Data Analytics, Management Information Systems, and Business Analytics, Information Technology, Information Technology Management, or Computer Science.

If you want to be an operations analyst, you should first learn about mathematics and database management, as these topics will be incredibly important for your work in the field. Developing expertise in these areas will provide you with the solid foundation you need to succeed in this challenging industry.

With the right skills and training, you can become an essential member of the operations analytics team, helping to convert a mess of data into valuable insights that help you inform sound business strategies.

What Are Some Common Job Titles for Operations Analysts?

Data scientists and business analysts are two of the many job titles associated with operation analytics, but they’re just two of the most common job titles. Operations research analysts may hold any of the following positions, or others not listed here:

  • Data Analyst: Data analysts analyze and interpret data to assist businesses in making better decisions. In general, this role entails analyzing large data sets for trends and patterns.
  • Statistical Analyst: Statistical analysts analyze data using statistical methods to make more informed business decisions. This role entails working with large data sets and statistical analysis methods to uncover new insights.
  • Business Analyst: Business analysts are in charge of understanding how an organization succeeds, helping evaluate how to improve performance by looking at how the organization is run, including measuring its processes and procedures. In general, this role entails looking at the business's current process and identifying areas for improvement or optimization.
  • Operations Research Analyst: Operations research analysts use mathematical reasoning to assist organizations in making better decisions. In general, this role entails creating mathematical models to understand problems better and then applying those models to determine the best course of action.
  • Systems Analyst: Systems analysts are in charge of designing and maintaining complex computer systems that aid an organization's efficiency or effectiveness. This can include software programs and hardware configurations, such as a new data center layout.
  • Business Intelligence Analyst: Business intelligence analysts are responsible for developing and implementing strategies for gathering, managing, and analyzing corporate data to improve business performance. They may also use data visualization techniques to present this information in an easy-to-understand format for management.
  • Data Architect: Data architects are responsible for designing and implementing databases that store information about an industry or organization's data assets (business process, data, objects).

The role of an operations research analyst revolves around data, including collecting it, storing it, reviewing it, investigating it, and using it to come up with data-driven ideas to improve real-world business results.

If you’re interested in getting a job in the industry, where you’re sure to be asked to help with managing data, using analytical skills, and developing business strategies backed by actual data, then you’ll need to develop a whole host of skills and abilities required to handle these complex, challenging tasks.

What Do Operations Analysts Actually Do?

According to SAS, operations analysts must be capable of collecting, storing, and reviewing large amounts of data to find the insights that will help their organization operate more efficiently. 

They accomplish this task using advanced programming skills, statistical analysis methods, and a deep, complex understanding of business processes, best practices, and the organization’s specific goals.

Working in operations analysis usually includes a mix of the following activities:

  • Data Collection and Analysis - Collecting, processing, storing, and analyzing data to help make better business decisions. This may involve working with teams to identify how they can best use their existing resources or building out new systems that improve efficiency or effectiveness.
  • Data Visualization - Taking data and making it easy for others in the organization (including management) to understand why that data is important, what it represents, and how it can be used to guide business strategy. This often involves using software tools like Tableau or PowerBI, but may also require creating custom reports, charts, and presentations.
  • Problem Solving - Identifying and solving problems related to how an organization operates. This may include designing new systems, improving current processes, or finding ways to better optimize resource allocation.
  • Systems Analysis - To understand how an organization works, operations analysts often need to analyze the various computer systems in use. This may involve understanding how data is collected, processed, and used by different systems or even designing new systems that work better with the existing infrastructure.
  • Business Intelligence - Developing and implementing strategies for collecting, managing, and analyzing corporate data. This can include working with teams to identify which data is essential to the mission, building databases to store information about data assets, the data itself, and using reporting tools to make the stored information more easily accessible to other teams, departments, managers, etc.

As a professional operations analyst, you should be prepared to handle tasks like:

  • Analyzing data to identify trends and patterns.
  • Developing strategies and plans based on analysis results.
  • Recommending solutions to business problems.
  • Managing projects and teams.
  • Communicating with stakeholders across the organization.
  • Providing support during projects and problem-solving.
  • Optimizing processes and procedures.

If you want to become an operations analyst, you must have strong analytical skills, as you’ll need to be capable of understanding complex data sets, identifying trends, and developing strategic recommendations based on an analysis of big data. 

However, you should also make sure to develop exceptionally strong problem-solving skills as there’s a good chance that your work will include needing to regularly overcome unexpected challenges.

What Skills & Abilities are Needed to Become a Successful Operations Analyst?

To become a successful operations analyst, you will need to develop a range of skills and abilities. Some of the most critical include:

  • Analytical Skills - Understanding complex data sets, identifying trends, and developing recommendations are essential for any operations analyst.
  • Programming Skills - Operations analysts often need to write code to manage and analyze data. This may include using languages like Python and SQL to retrieve, process, and store information and writing programs that automate tasks or perform calculations on large sets of numbers.
  • Software Skills - Operations analysts need to be able to use various software tools, including databases, reporting software such as Tableau (or PowerBI), and data mining tools.
  • Business Skills - To work effectively with organizational stakeholders, operations analysts need to have strong business skills, including a sophisticated understanding of how businesses operate, along with a detailed understanding of common business-relevant financial strategies.
  • Problem-Solving Skills - Operations analysts must be able to handle unexpected challenges and solve problems, as one of their core missions is to investigate issues and come up with creative solutions to improve performance where there were previous problems.
  • Creativity - Operations analysts need to think creatively so they can come up with new solutions, like when being asked to design new systems, improve current processes, or find ways to optimize resources. This often requires a highly creative process that involves brainstorming different approaches and testing out ideas until you find one that works well for your particular situation.

The best way to get started as an operations analyst is to get a degree in Business Management or Data Analytics

Getting your degree will provide you with a solid foundation of skills and the knowledge required to achieve success as an operations research analyst. 

To improve your odds of landing a great role, make sure to gain as much experience as possible working with data, and consider completing internships or even part-time jobs in the field while you study the industry.

Do I Really Need a Degree to Become an Operations Analyst?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical educational requirement for operations research analysts is to have a bachelor’s degree in business, operations research, management science, analytics, mathematics, engineering, computer science, or another technical or quantitative field.

The BLS notes, however, that some employers may prefer to hire candidates with a master’s degree, and for the industry’s best jobs, we highly suggest considering completing a master’s program like CSU Global’s M.S. in Data Analytics, as this should help improve your marketability for the field’s most competitive roles.

Getting your degree in the field will ensure that you have the foundational knowledge and skills needed to serve as a successful operations analyst, including all the required computer skills, basic programming knowledge, and strong analytical skills that you’ll need to use each day on the job.

The coursework you complete will develop your ability to do more than simply analyze data sets using SQL or Python, but also improve your business skills, software skills, and problem-solving abilities

Choosing to get your degree from CSU Global will ensure that you’re well-prepared for a career as an operations analyst, laying the groundwork for you to build a successful, lifelong career in the industry.

How Will a Data Analytics Program Help Prepare Me to Become an Operations Analyst?

Studying data analytics will provide you with opportunities to learn about the following topics:  

  • Operations research
  • Decision analysis
  • Probability and statistics
  • Business mathematics
  • Database management
  • Modeling systems with spreadsheets, business intelligence tools, and statistical software packages
  • Data collection methods (e.g., surveys)
  • Report writing

Core courses for CSU Global’s data analytics program include:

  • The Fundamentals of Quantitative Analysis
  • Foundations of Data Analytics
  • Introduction to Business Intelligence
  • Data Mining and Visualization
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Business Analytics

The skills you will gain in these courses will provide you with the skills and abilities you need to analyze large data sets, allowing you to make better business decisions driven by real data, rather than assumptions.

What Can I Do to Increase My Chances of Success?

You can improve your chances of successfully launching a career as an operations analyst by doing several different things. 

First and foremost, you’ll need to develop strong computer skills, since virtually all the work you do in the field will require computers. 

This includes developing your ability to use business intelligence tools, statistical software, and databases themselves. You should become familiar with programming languages used for data operations, including SQL and Python.

To succeed in this field, it is also necessary to have excellent communication skills, since you can’t just find insights, but have to be capable of presenting them to others. 

This means you’ll need to develop skills and abilities used to effectively communicate with managers, team members, and other stakeholders to keep them informed about the data analysis process, the findings, and the suggestions you have for improving business operations.

Finally, problem-solving abilities are going to be essential to your daily tasks, because this job requires you to develop innovative solutions to complex business problems.

To further enhance your academic credentials, you might also want to consider completing one or several industry certifications, which could prove to become a valuable asset for your resume. 

According to Zippia, the following are some of the best industry certifications for a career as an operations analyst:

  • IMA’s Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
  • PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • PMI’s Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • ISACA’s Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • IIBA’s CBAPCertified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)

Finally, remember that while all of the hard skills like data modeling and computer programming are critical to achieving any level of success as an operations analyst, you’ll also need to spend at least some time developing your soft skills too.

Soft skills include things like communications, professionalism, and your ability to work with others, and these skills can help make or break a career in the industry. 

While CSU Global’s programs focus on providing you with the essential hard skills you need for the job, we’ll also help you develop the soft skills you need to build a successful career as an operations analyst.

Should I Get My Degree in Data Analytics Online?

Yes, we recommend pursuing your degree online, as there are several compelling reasons to pick an online program over in-person learning.

First, getting a data analytics degree online will allow you to learn data analytics from the comfort of your own home, saving you both the time and money that would have been required to commute to an on-campus program. 

Next, online programs tend to provide much more flexibility than on-campus programs, allowing you to study not just wherever, but also whenever you choose to do so. 

If you’ve got a busy schedule that includes family or work responsibilities, then studying online will make it much easier to find time to attend to your studies without impeding your other responsibilities.

Choosing to study with us at CSU Global ensures you’ll be able to take advantage of all the benefits that come from studying online, as our entirely online programs offer:

  • No requirements to show up at set times or in physical locations.
  • Monthly class starts.
  • Accelerated courses.

Since operations analysts are all about improving organizational efficiency, you’re likely to appreciate the efficiency advantages that our program provides, and we hope that you’ll take advantage of these benefits to help jumpstart your career as an operations research analyst.

Why Should I Choose CSU Global’s Data Analytics Program?

Our online Master’s Degree in Data Analytics was designed to provide you with everything you need to launch a successful, lifelong career as an operations research analyst.

This program is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, so you can rest assured that your degree will earn the respect of hiring managers, while also providing you with real value as you seek to launch or advance your career in operations analytics.

Our program is also sure to help set your resume apart from other applicants for competitive jobs, as it currently holds several excellent rankings, including::

  • A #3 ranking for Best Online Degree in Data Analytics from Best Master Programs
  • A #9 ranking for Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs from Intelligent.

Furthermore, CSU Global itself is widely regarded as an industry leader in higher education, having recently earned several important rankings, including:

  • A #10 ranking for Best Online Colleges for ROI from OnlineU.
  • A #1 ranking for Best Online Colleges & Schools in Colorado from Best Accredited Colleges.
  • A #1 ranking for Best Online Colleges in Colorado from Best Colleges

Finally, we offer affordable tuition rates and a tuition guarantee to ensure that your rate won’t increase as long as you remain enrolled as a student with us.

To learn more about our fully accredited online Master’s Degree in Data Analytics, please call (800) 462-7845 or fill out our Information Request Form

Are you ready to get started? Apply today!