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Become A Graduate Research Associate

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Working As A Graduate Research Associate

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $65,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Graduate Research Associate Do

Operations research analysts use advanced mathematical and analytical methods to help organizations solve problems and make better decisions.

Duties

Operations research analysts typically do the following:

  • Identify and solve real-world problems in areas such as business, logistics, healthcare, or other fields
  • Collect and organize information from a variety of sources, such as computer databases, sales histories, and customer feedback
  • Gather input from workers involved in all aspects of a problem or from others who have specialized knowledge, so that they can help solve the problem
  • Examine information to figure out what is relevant to a problem and what methods might be used to analyze it
  • Use statistical analysis, simulations, predictive modeling, or other methods to analyze information and develop practical solutions to business problems
  • Advise managers and other decision makers on the impacts of various courses of action to take in order to address a problem
  • Write memos, reports, and other documents explaining their findings and recommendations for managers, executives, and other officials

Operations research analysts are involved in all aspects of an organization. They help managers decide how to allocate resources, develop production schedules, manage the supply chain, and set prices. For example, they may help decide how to organize products in supermarkets or help companies figure out the most effective way to ship and distribute products.

Analysts must first identify and understand the problem to be solved or the processes to be improved. Analysts typically collect relevant data from the field and interview clients or managers involved in the business processes being examined. Analysts show the implications of pursuing different actions and may assist in achieving a consensus on how to proceed.

Operations research analysts use sophisticated computer software, such as databases and statistical programs, and modeling packages, to analyze and solve problems. Analysts use these mathematical programs to simulate current and future events and evaluate alternative courses of action. Analysts break down problems into their various parts and analyze the effect that different changes and circumstances would have on each of these parts. For example, to help an airline schedule flights and decide what to charge for tickets, analysts may take into account the cities that have to be connected, the amount of fuel required to fly those routes, the expected number of passengers, pilots’ schedules, maintenance costs, and fuel prices.

There is no one way to solve a problem, and analysts must weigh the costs and benefits of alternative solutions or approaches in their recommendations to managers.

Because problems are complex and often require expertise from many disciplines, most analysts work on teams. Once a manager reaches a final decision, these teams may work with others in the organization to ensure that the plan arrived at is successful.

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How To Become A Graduate Research Associate

Although applicants may need a master’s degree for most operations research positions, a bachelor’s degree is enough for some entry-level positions. Because few schools offer bachelor’s and advanced degree programs in operations research, analysts typically have degrees in other, related fields.

Education

Although some employers prefer to hire applicants with a master’s degree, many entry-level positions are available for those with a bachelor’s degree. Although some schools offer bachelor’s and advanced degree programs in operations research, some analysts have degrees in other technical or quantitative fields, such as engineering, computer science, analytics, or mathematics.

Because operations research is based on quantitative analysis, students need extensive coursework in mathematics. Courses include statistics, calculus, and linear algebra. Coursework in computer science is important because analysts rely on advanced statistical and database software to analyze and model data. Courses in other areas, such as engineering, economics, and political science, are useful because operations research is a multidisciplinary field with a wide variety of applications.

Continuing education is important for operations research analysts. Keeping up with advances in technology, software tools, and improved analytical methods is vital.

Other Experience

Many operations research analysts who work with the military are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. 

Some positions may require applicants to undergo a background check in order to attain a security clearance. 

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Operations research analysts use a wide range of methods, such as forecasting, data mining, and statistical analysis, to examine and interpret data. They must determine the appropriate software packages and understand computer programming languages to design and develop new techniques and models.

Communication skills. Operations research analysts often present their data and conclusions to managers and other executives. They also need to communicate technical information to people without a technical background.

Critical-thinking skills. Operations research analysts must be able to figure out what information is relevant to their work. They also must be able to evaluate the costs and benefits of alternative solutions before making a recommendation.

Interpersonal skills. Operations research analysts typically work on teams. They also need to be able to convince managers and top executives to accept their recommendations.

Math skills. The models and methods used by operations research analysts are rooted in statistics, calculus, linear algebra, and other advanced mathematical disciplines.

Problem-solving skills. Operations research analysts need to be able to diagnose problems on the basis of information given to them by others. They then analyze relevant information to solve the problems.

Writing skills. Operations research analysts write memos, reports, and other documents explaining their findings and recommendations.

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Average Length of Employment
Research Associate 2.6 years
Research Fellow 2.4 years
Research Scholar 1.7 years
Research Assistant 1.6 years
Research Volunteer 0.8 years
Top Careers Before Graduate Research Associate
Internship 11.2%
Researcher 4.0%
Volunteer 2.3%
Instructor 1.7%
Lecturer 1.1%
Top Careers After Graduate Research Associate
Instructor 4.8%
Scientist 4.1%
Consultant 4.0%
Internship 3.4%
Fellow 2.3%

Do you work as a Graduate Research Associate?

Graduate Research Associate Demographics

Gender

Male

44.9%

Female

32.5%

Unknown

22.6%
Ethnicity

White

45.7%

Asian

29.9%

Hispanic or Latino

10.7%

Black or African American

8.7%

Unknown

5.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

26.3%

Chinese

15.8%

Mandarin

14.3%

French

13.5%

Russian

5.3%

German

3.0%

Cantonese

3.0%

Arabic

3.0%

Hindi

2.3%

Portuguese

2.3%

Turkish

1.5%

Marathi

1.5%

Hebrew

1.5%

Carrier

1.5%

Japanese

1.5%

Gujarati

0.8%

Korean

0.8%

Danish

0.8%

Bulgarian

0.8%

Armenian

0.8%
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Graduate Research Associate Education

Schools

Ohio State University

50.7%

Arizona State University

9.8%

University of Arizona

7.1%

Oklahoma State University

4.7%

State University of New York at Binghamton

4.1%

University of South Florida

3.1%

University of Texas at Arlington

2.2%

University of Central Florida

1.9%

Indiana University Bloomington

1.9%

University of Tennessee - Knoxville

1.7%

San Diego State University

1.5%

University of Utah

1.5%

Ohio State University College of Optometry

1.5%

University of Texas at Austin

1.4%

University of California - San Diego

1.4%

Colorado State University

1.3%

University of California - Los Angeles

1.1%

Cornell University

1.1%

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

1.1%

University of Washington

1.0%
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Majors

Chemistry

12.4%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

9.4%

Mechanical Engineering

9.1%

Electrical Engineering

6.2%

Biology

5.4%

Chemical Engineering

5.4%

Physics

5.1%

Industrial Engineering

5.0%

Materials Science And Engineering

4.9%

Biomedical Engineering

4.5%

Computer Engineering

4.5%

Microbiology

4.1%

Pharmacy

3.5%

Computer Science

3.3%

Business

3.1%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

3.0%

Biomedical Sciences

2.8%

Public Health

2.7%

Environmental Science

2.7%

Pharmacology

2.6%
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Degrees

Doctorate

48.1%

Masters

41.8%

Bachelors

4.7%

Other

3.7%

Certificate

1.2%

Associate

0.4%

Diploma

0.1%
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Top Skills for A Graduate Research Associate

  1. Research Projects
  2. Technical Reports
  3. Cell Culture
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Managed research projects involving computing intensive simulations, large data set analysis, and extensive collaboration with laboratory experimental scientists.
  • Produced and presented technical reports for Area Array Consortium members.
  • Conducted mammalian cell culture and cell dosing for testing novel compounds in ALS and Parkinson's disease research
  • Derived and experimentally verified novel thermodynamic and kinetic models for enzyme kinetics and protein folding.
  • Performed statistical analysis in sample size reassessment, determining gene-disease association, and survival data analysis.

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