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Operational researcher: job description

Operational researcher: job description

Operational researchers use mathematical, analytical and computational techniques to provide quantitative and qualitative information that will improve managerial decision-making.
Operational research is used in government services, commerce and industry.

What do operational researchers do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Operational research involves:

  • determining and clarifying strategic and operational problems via consultation with appropriate employees
  • outlining objectives
  • collecting, analysing and interpreting data
  • identifying and assessing possible strategies
  • presenting results that are easily understood
  • implementing agreed solutions

A large proportion of the work involves numerical and computational analytical techniques, often using expert systems and artificial intelligence. Contact with managerial staff and other relevant personnel is a key feature of the job.

Typical employers of operational researchers

  • Consultancies
  • The Civil Service
  • Financial organisations
  • Commercial organisations
  • Industrial organisations

Vacancies are advertised by careers services, in national newspapers and specialist publications such as The Journal of the Institute of Management Service and its respective website. The Operational Research Society produces a range of useful publications, including a list of companies with vacancies.

Qualifications and training required

Many entrants study subjects such as computing, mathematics and statistics. There are a number of postgraduate courses available in operational research and employers often prefer candidates who have completed one.

Relevant experience can also be helpful, although difficult to obtain: placements and vacation work are highly sought after.

Key skills for operational researchers

  • Good intellectual skills
  • Logical skills
  • Mathematical skills
  • Problem solving abilities
  • Effective team working skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • A diplomatic and persuasive manner
  • Verbal and written communication skills

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