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What Is the Definition of an Operations Analyst?
Operations analysts work to develop and implement business practices to ensure optimal performance within a company. Specific analyst job descriptions vary by company, but generally these professionals are responsible for identifying procedural, technical and structural shortcomings, and creating plans to fix those shortcomings. Candidates for operations analyst positions should have an awareness of dynamic market needs, a background in production and commerce and a set of business skills to assist in their decision-making.
Most operations analysts work in office environments, and they often work in teams. Analyst job descriptions include collecting, analyzing and synthesizing large amounts of diverse information, typically also dealing with deadlines. It's a demanding, high-level job, but the occupation is growing quickly and those who enter it, enjoy a high-earning potential and plentiful job opportunities.
As an operations analyst, you must evaluate your company's procedures, practices and operations, and come up with ideas for updating them. These professionals often work with product lines to design, implement and improve them. Typically, they report to senior or mid-level management, production teams or sales teams. They might also be responsible for subordinate employees.
Typical responsibilities in an analyst job description may include:
- Identifying project requirements through customer interviews and operations analyses, and determining project scope, preparing customer contracts and documenting results.
- Developing and analyzing solutions to problems, and communicating these solutions through charts and diagrams.
- Identifying phrases and elements, personnel requirements, and costs to develop project estimates.
- Completing tests to verify results.
- Conducting training to prepare customers to use systems.
- Writing documentation and providing support for customer reference.
- Maintaining system integrity and security by researching and resolving problems.
- Establishing and enforcing organization standards to maintain quality service.
- Collecting, analyzing and summarizing information to prepare reports.
- Attending educational workshops, reviewing professional publications and creating professional networks to maintain technical and professional knowledge.
Education and Skill Requirements
Most entry-level operations analyst positions require at least a bachelor's degree in operations research, management science or another technical field. However, most employers prefer candidates with a master's degree in one of these fields or a related subject. Stand-out applicants usually hold prior professional experience in the field, as well, though most employers offer at least some formal on-the-job training to their new operations analyst employees.
Internship experience can help prospective operations analyst applicants get some training and real-world work experience under their belt. An internship background can help supplement your degree, especially if you hold only a bachelor's. Polish your skills on these areas below, before you apply for an operations analyst position:
- Quality focus.
- Project management.
- Client relationships and communication.
- Networking knowledge and standards.
- Process improvement.
Operations analysts enjoy respectable salaries, with their median annual wage totaling $54,000. This breaks down to an hourly wage of approximately $20. Professionals in the lowest 10 percent of the earning scale make around $40,000 per year, while those in the 90th percentile earn up to $75,000 annually.
Operations analysts may progress in their careers to become operations managers, operations supervisors, senior financial analysts, business analysts or vice presidents of operations. Professionals in the latter position make a median annual wage of $124,000. Operations managers, on the other hand, make $6,000 more per year than operations analysts, and the median annual income for senior operations analysts is $16,000 higher than that of operations analysts.
Brenna Swanston is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She previously reported for the Sun newspaper in Santa Maria, California, and she holds a bachelor's in journalism from California Polytechnic State University.