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Best major to become operations research analyst?

  1. Mar 14, 2015 #1
    What is the best major to become an operations research analyst?

    Most schools don't offer majors in operations research or industrial engineering (mine doesn't!), so what is the next best alternative?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 14, 2015 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Um, if your school doesn't offer the degree you want, why are you there?
  4. Mar 15, 2015 #3
    It's possible he decided to change career paths but did so after he already enrolled at his university. It is often not easy to transfer to a different school.
  5. Mar 15, 2015 #4
    I currently work in OR for the Army and really enjoy it a lot! If you like applied math than this is definitely a good career path to take.

    My background education was a BS in pure math and minors in physics and astrophysics. So, I would say you can still find an OR position fairly easy if you have a "hard" science background.

    Here is what a typical OR job posting looks like - it has all of the educational requirements listed: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/397256300

    Let me know if you have any specific questions.
  6. Mar 15, 2015 #5
    yeah the other post was correct. I changed majors. Also, the nearest school that offers industrial engineering is about 50 miles away, so i would have to move, and i attend school in my hometown. If i were to attend the nearest school that offers industrial engineering, i would have to take out a lot more loans. Attending the school in my hometown allows me to live with my parents, so i go to school for almost free (financial aid covers a huge chunk of my tuition since my parents make very little income)
  7. Mar 15, 2015 #6
    oh great, thanks! that's very helpful. I would love to work for the army in OR, since that is what OR stemmed from, and the strategic thinking is probably much more complex and intense than it is in industry. Do you think I could work in OR with the army if i have a strong math background (one that a statistics major would provide) but very little background in physics?
  8. Mar 15, 2015 #7

    Stephen Tashi

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    Don't count on it being complex. As to intensity, Army OR is heavily bureaucratic so there can be intense arguments in the big meetings. It isn't the Operation Research Analysists who make the decisions. If you set goals like "Giving a briefing that impressed the General", you might like it.
  9. Mar 15, 2015 #8
    do you like it? is it frustrating for you when management doesn't take the plan you know is best with mathematical modeling and data analysis?
  10. Mar 15, 2015 #9

    Stephen Tashi

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    I'm retired. It was average job. Look at material from the Office Of Personnel Management. You can find the requirements for various government jobs. If you have a technical major, you can qualify for a variety of jobs with official titles like "Operations Research Analyst", "Mathematician", "Statistician", "Physicist" without much trouble. To qualify as some sort of "Engineer" is harder and the pay is probably higher. If you are wanting to get into military OR, it will help if you are ex-military or retired military. There are summer intern programs for undergraduates at some government sites, including military installations. You might be able to get a preview of the work that way.
  11. Mar 15, 2015 #10
    sorry annoyinggirl. I meant "she". Not "he". :)
  12. Mar 15, 2015 #11
    Statistics is actually the most ideal background to have (barring an OR degree, of course.) 95% of the things I do in Army OR are statistics related. Oddly enough, in astrophysics we covered spherical trig and that ended being extremely useful in some of the projects I have worked on where I needed to find the distance between two locations on a sphere. This is the only case so far where I have used anything from my physics background - you shouldn't need physics!

    One other thing to keep in mind, which Stephen Tashi hinted at in his post, is you will often be required to brief decision makers (SES's and General Officers), so I would also suggest trying to squeeze in a few public speaking courses. Almost as important as your analysis is how well you can communicate it to leadership, who very rarely have a deep math background!
  13. Mar 18, 2015 #12


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    I have a friend that went into OR after undergrad in electrical engineering
  14. Mar 18, 2015 #13


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    Operations research involves applying mathematical and quantitative methods to solve practical logistic and management-type questions. Typically, most people working in OR study a quantitative/mathematical field during their undergraduate program (math, applied math, statistics, computer science, physics, industrial engineering, other engineering, etc.) and then pursue a masters degree or a PhD in OR. From what I understand, a BS may be sufficient to break into the OR field, but more often than not, most positions will require at least a Masters.
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