Data & network

Operational researcher

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

Annual Salary

£20,000 to £80,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

35 to 40

Future employment

There will be 5% more Operational researcher jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

You'll use advanced mathematical and business theories to help your organisation work more effectively. OR work can range from air traffic control scheduling to measuring player performance in a professional sports team.

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


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.

You'll usually need:

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

Other Routes

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.

£20,000 to £80,000

Starter salary: £20,000 to £28,000

Experienced salary: £35,000 to £60,000

These figures are a guide.

35 to 40

You'll usually work around 37 to 40 hours a week.

You could work in an office or work from home. You'll need to travel to visit clients.

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

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

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

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

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • business management skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • knowledge of English language
  • 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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