Operational researcher

management scientist
Administration, business and management

Career outlook for operational researcher

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would find better ways for businesses and organisations to work and achieve their goals.

You’d analyse systems and processes and work out how they can be improved using advanced mathematical, statistical and business theories.

You’d test your solutions to problems using statistical and computer forecasts and ‘models’.

Your research and advice would help senior managers in companies and government departments solve business problems and make better decisions.

You would:

  • Analyse complex information and add insight
  • Apply business and other theories to the organisation and its work
  • Come up with the solution to problems
  • Observe and interview staff
  • Examine a company's current procedures
  • Report your findings to the client
  • Make recommendations about where to make changes
  • Advise managers on putting the changes into practice

You might work alone or in a small team. Good knowledge of business would be useful. You’d also need to be able to explain complex ideas to people who are not experts.


Working conditions


You would typically work standard office hours Monday to Friday, perhaps with occasional overtime to meet deadlines. Part-time work is possible


You may have an office base or work mainly from home and you would visit each client company.


You would need to visit each client company, which can involve frequent travel in this country and abroad, and possible overnight stays.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Taking initiative
  • Analysing
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Cooperating
  • Empathising
  • Researching
  • Questioning
  • Problem solving

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Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.


You need a good honours degree (SCQF level 10) in management science or another relevant subject such as

  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Economics
  • Computer science
  • Business management

Degree courses look for three to five Highers including Maths, with English at least at National 5.

Many employers prefer applicants to have a postgraduate degree (SCQF level 11) before entering employment 

Useful subjects

  • Maths  (required by most courses and employers)
  • English (required by most courses and employers)
  • Business
  • ICT
  • Science subjects
  • Numerate subjects

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show research, organisational, financial and ICT skills.  

The Operational Research Society runs career open days and training courses for those interested in or already employed in this area.