I want to work in Operational Research

Find out how you can start a career in operational research. Here we list potential job roles and some of the leading companies in that sector.

Useful information

PROFILE: Operational Researcher

INVOLVES: Aiding & often developing management strategies & decisions through the use of analytical methods. Consulting with clients. Collecting & analysing data. Developing mathematical models on computer. Identifying solutions & presenting these to clients.
EMPLOYERS: Large commercial employers especially in the Finance industry, Government Operational Research Service, local government & OR consultancies.
RELATED JOBS: corporate planner, management consultant, statistician, systems analyst, IT consultant, ergonomist.
SATISFACTIONS: Assuming a senior role within major organisations. Can be very well paid. Intellectually stimulating. Varied project-based work.
NEGATIVES: Can be working under considerable pressure.
SKILLS: numeracy - to A Level standard or above. Analysing & investigating, planning, problem solving, verbal communication.
ADVANCEMENT: Promotion to senior management within large employers or from private to public sector or vice versa.
DEGREE: business, computing, engineering, management, mathematics, psychology, sciences & other numerate subjects.
POSTGRADUATE STUDY: A Masters degree in Operational Research or Management Science will aid entry and some OR employers largely recruit graduates from relevant Masters courses
TIPS: Consider relevant postgraduate course.

You can find a more detailed occupational profile.

Q&A with an Operational Research Analyst

Ed ‐ Operational Research Analyst (Mathematics, Statistics, Operational Research & Economics degree).

How did you become an operational research analyst?

‘I followed a four year course for my first degree and graduated with an MSc. I’d applied for a job with the government’s operational research service a few months before my course ended and think I was quite lucky to be offered a job as soon as I graduated. However, once I got there I didn’t enjoy my first few months because I didn’t particularly like the department I was in, so after about six months I applied for a job in a different department. I’m much happier in my new department and have now been working as an Operational Analyst for eighteen months. I do a lot of statistical modelling and data analysis, often working to tight deadlines in order to respond to data requests from senior civil servants and government ministers who use the information to inform their policy decisions. I’m planning to stay with my current department until I’m promoted, then once I’m a Senior Analyst I may look to move into another department to broaden my experience.’

How have you drawn on the experience you gained at university in your subsequent work?

‘My course gave me a good grounding in technical skills like data analysis, but the really technical stuff (like high level statistical theory) I hardly use at all. Overall I would say I’ve found the ‘soft skills’ I learnt more useful ‐ like how to present and explain your findings, how to structure and write a paper etc.’

Do you have any careers advice for the students who graduated this year?

‘Join the civil service if you can – you’ll get good experience, it’s interesting work, the environment is generally very friendly, and you won’t get worked to the bone like you would in a private consultancy firm. I think the important thing is to get a decent job, whatever it might be. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you want to do in life yet. Just get any job that will help you develop your skills and gain some experience. Don’t come back from university and get a menial job while ‘deciding’ what to do – you could be doing something much more worthwhile while you work out your next move.’

Destinations of some Kent Management Science Graduates

MSc Management Science BSc Management Science
  • Roland Berger - Strategy Consultant Intern
  • DDB - Client Accountant
  • Deloitte Consulting - Bus. Analyst
  • Ernst & Young - Risk Management
  • MVA - Consultancy Analyst
  • Omega Underwriting Agents Ltd - Catastrophe Risk Modeller
  • Government Operation Research Service - Scientific Officer
  • Xerox Co. - Intern
  • Bounty (UK) Ltd P & G - Account Executive
  • First Credit Services - Business Analyst/Operations Support
  • Elliott Bauer - Researcher
  • UK Border Agency - Scientific Officer (OR Analyst)
  • University of Kent - MSc International Accounting
  • Univ. Carlo Cattaneo - LIUC MSc Industrial Eng.
  • Univ. of Bristol - PhD Management
  • Univ. of Kent - MPhil Management Science
  • PhD Management Science - University of Kent
  • PhD Management Science - University of Kent
  • Information Analyst - Uniserve
  • Carbon Management - Carbon Clear
  • Trainee Operations Executive - GfK NOP
  • Recruitment Consultant - Aston Carter
  • Impact Team Member - Gilly Hicks
  • MA Management Finance - Southampton University
  • Graduate Scheme - British Airways
  • Service Delivery Representative - 3t Logistics
  • Billing analyst - TNT Post
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