Operational researcher

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Management scientist

Operational researchers analyse how organisations can improve the way they work.

Salary Range: £20,000 to £80,000

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How to become an operational researcher

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • applying directly
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University

You’ll usually need a degree in operational research, maths or other relevant subject, for example:

  • statistics
  • computing
  • economics
  • management science

Some employers may prefer you to have a postgraduate qualification in operational research or management science.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including maths
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information

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Direct application

You may be able to get into operational research if you’ve got related experience from industry, for example in research and development or project management.

More information

Professional and industry bodies

Joining a professional body like The Operational Research Society may improve your career prospects.

Further information

You can find out more about careers in operational research from The Operational Research Society.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • business management skills
  • maths skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • observing staff and managers, and interviewing them about their jobs
  • collecting and analysing data, using mathematical and statistical methods
  • applying business theories
  • identifying areas for improvement and recommending changes
  • advising managers on making changes
  • checking to see how changes are working
  • setting up and testing solutions to problems, using statistical and computer forecasting
  • presenting findings to the organisation

Working environment

You could work in an office or from home.

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Career path and progression

With experience you could become a project or team leader, then manager of an operational research department.

You could also become self-employed as a management consultant.