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Career profile: Operational researcher (management scientist)

management scientistIf you're good at problem solving and want to work with a variety of clients, then consider a career as an operational researcher.

A what?

Operational researchers, also known as management scientists, apply advanced mathematical and business theory to help businesses solve problems and make better decisions.

On the job

Operational researchers aim to improve an organisation’s efficiency and provide information for senior management in relation to developing policies and predicting future business trends. They may work alone or in a small team.

The job would include following a process to be able to identify problems within the business and advise on implementing solutions to these problems. The researcher would examine a company’s current procedures, including observing and interviewing staff, and then analyse the results using various mathematical, statistical and business theories. They would then decide how to apply the theory to the client’s business and devise and test solutions to the problem often by setting up statistical and computer forecasts and ‘models'.

Course entry requirements

Most operation researchers will be graduates with good degrees in management science, operational research, or another relevant subject such as mathematics, statistics, computing/IT, economics, or business or management studies.

Other entry options for operational research include the combination of a lower second class degree and A level maths or statistics, or a degree in a subject relevant to the particular industry with additional management or research work experience on top.

Sometimes a postgraduate degree in operational research or management science as well as one of the above options is preferable depending on the employer.

What does the training involve?

Skills will mainly be developed on the job, learning from experienced researchers and taking on more responsibility as your experience grows. Some employers run structured graduate training programmes for new starters so it is worth investigating this with prospective employers. Studying for postgraduate degrees in operational research or management science on a part-time basis is common once on the job. The Operational Research Society offers a number some short courses to help you to update your skills and research techniques. See the link to their website below.

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