As a statistician, you will be responsible for performing analysis of data and applying statistical and mathematical techniques to solve complex problems in business, healthcare, engineering and other fields. Statisticians also are responsible for designing experiments, surveys and opinion polls to gather data. Some surveys, including the national census, for example, collect data from almost everyone in the country.
Statisticians must be skilled at developing survey questionnaires and reporting forms for collecting all types of data. They then are responsible for analyzing the data for things such as reliability, averages and much more. Statisticians also explain what the limits are to the data that they collect so that accurate conclusions may be drawn.
Statisticians use advanced statistical software to perform their data analysis. Some of these data professionals will even help to create statistical software to analyze certain types of data more efficiently.
What Is Statistics?
Statistics applies theories and techniques of statistical and mathematical modeling to solve a variety of practical problems. This is a broad field that can be applied to many industries and fields. Typically, a statistician will do some or all of the following:
- Develop statistical and mathematical models to perform accurate data analysis
- Use statistical data analysis to improve and support various business decisions
- Apply mathematical and statistical techniques and theories to solve problems in engineering, mathematics, sciences and business.
- Design statistical surveys, opinion polls and experiments to collect relevant data
- Interpret data and report the conclusions to stakeholders
- Decide which type of data is needed to address a specific problem or question
It is also common for statisticians to work in certain sectors. For example, many statisticians are employed by the state or federal government. It is important for statisticians to be available to develop and analyze surveys that collect many types of data, such as wages, unemployment rates and other important economic indicators.
As a statistician, you can expect to have plenty of work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS states that the vast majority of statisticians and mathematicians work full time and some in some fields will work overtime. Their heavy workload also can be seen in job growth in the coming years. It is reported by BLS that there will be 33% growth in jobs for statisticians by 2026, which is much faster than average. Median pay for statisticians in 2016 was $80,500 per year.
There is more data out there that shows just how strong the statistics field is growing. The top association in the field, the American Statisticians Association or AMA, wrote in 2017 that US News and World Report had ranked the job of statistician as the best job in the STEM field. The AMA also noted that US News ranked the job as the fourth best job overall in all of business.
What makes this job so hot? US News stated that statisticians enjoy high levels of career satisfaction, salary, job growth, and advancement opportunities. They also have the ability to work in almost any industry. So, statisticians are able to often pick and choose the jobs and fields in which they want to work. Further, over the last five years, 65% of employers reported in an AMA-sponsored survey that they needed more employees who understand statistics.
As of 2016, the BLS reports that there are 37,200 statisticians in the US. The largest employers of statisticians at that time were:
- Federal government: 13%
- Research and development: 11%
- Insurance carriers: 9%
- Social assistance and healthcare: 8%
- Colleges and universities: 8%
A related field is mathematics. BLS reported that there were 3,100 mathematicians employed in the US in 2016 in these fields:
- Federal government: 35%
- Research and development: 17%
- Colleges and universities: 16%
- Finance and insurance: 8%
- Management, scientific and consulting services: 7%
There also are many other related fields where people with advanced statistics skills can work:
- Business Analyst
- Software Engineer
- Risk Analyst
- Quality Analyst
- Environmental Scientist
- Pharmaceutical Engineer
- Data Analyst
- Project Manager
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for statisticians in 2016 was $80,500, with the top 10% earning more than $130,900 per year. The median salaries varied based upon the industries in which they worked:
- Federal government: $100,700
- Research and development: $87,100
- Insurance carriers: $77,400
- Healthcare and social assistance: $76,100
- Colleges and universities: $71,000
Mathematicians meanwhile earned a median salary of $105,800 per year, with the top 10% earning more than $160,000 per year.
US News and World Reports states that the top paying cities for statisticians in the United States today are:
- San Jose CA: $138,900
- San Francisco CA: $119,000
- Newark NJ: $113,200
- Raleigh NC: $111,600
- Trenton NJ: $109,800
Entrepreneur.com reports that these cities are the top options for all science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors, which includes statistics as well:
- Washington DC
- Huntsville AL
- Trenton NJ
- Boulder CO
- Seattle WA
- Boston MA
- Ann Arbor MI
With a degree in statistics, you will have the education and skills to work in virtually any industry. The companies for which you can work are almost endless. You can find employment in companies, large, medium and small, in the following industries:
- Statistical computing
- Public health
- Science journalism
- Government research and surveys
Students who think that they want a career in the growing field of statistics can earn a bachelor’s degree in statistics. With a bachelor’s degree, you can go on to have a very successful career in business, industry, academics, medicine, government and more. With a bachelor’s degree in statistics, you will focus on the fundamental theories and methods of data collection, tabulation, analysis and interpretation. According to the University of Minnesota, past graduates with a bachelor’s degree in this field have gotten employment with these job titles:
- Data miner
- Database administrator
- Social scientist
- Survey researcher
- Inventory analyst
- Insurance underwriter
- Market researcher
You can get a good start with a bachelor’s degree in statistics, but to advance, you will eventually need to get your master’s degree. To get a master’s degree in this field, you will need to have prior coursework in statistics, linear algebra, calculus, experimental design, probability and statistical theory. Depending upon the university, you may need to have one or more years of full time work experience in statistics, mathematics or a related field.
For many people who want to be statisticians, earning an online degree is a good option. Many of these degrees are from highly respected universities, such as the Master of Applied Statistics from the University of Pennsylvania. You have the ability to earn this high quality degree from a respected university in as little as two years so that you can work in fields including science, education, healthcare, government and business. That program has courses in probability theory, mathematical statistics, regression methods, and statistical consulting.
All universities have specific requirements for admission. At the above university and program, these are the requirements to be considered:
- 0 GPA
- Official transcripts
- 3 References
- GRE scores
All schools have their own curriculum for a statistics degree, but you should see these types of classes for a master’s degree:
- Math Skills for Statistical Analysis
- Computing Skills for Statistical Analysis
- Regression Models and Applications
- Probability with Applications
- Computational and Graphical Statistics
- Nonparametric Methods
- Generalized Regression Models
- Mathematical Statistics with Applications
- Analysis of Time Series
Statistics skills can be applied to many different occupations and industries. It is helpful when you start college to have an idea of the type of job you want to get with your statistics degree. Some universities have concentrations that you can choose depending upon the type of job you want:
- Operations researcher
- Programmer or analyst
- Further graduate study in mathematics or statistics
- Statistics or mathematics teacher
Are you interested in earning your degree in statistics? You may be able to find a grant or scholarship that can help to pay your way through school. Below are some good opportunities to consider:
- Gertrude M. Cox Scholarship: This is a scholarship of various amounts each year that is sponsored by the American Statistical Association. It is intended to encourage women to enter the statistics field.
- Government Statistics Section Wray Jackson Smith Scholarship: This scholarship is awarded jointly by the ASA and the federal government, and offers up to $1000 in scholarship money each year to students interested in a career in government statistics.
- John J. Bartko Scholarship: This award was established to help young statisticians who are earning their master’s degree in statistics or biostatistics.
- Lester R. Curtin Award: This scholarship of various amounts every year that is offered to help statisticians to get the skills and training needed to advance in the field.
- Lingzi Lu Memorial Award: This award is offered jointly by the ASA and the International Chinese Statistical Association each year.
If becoming a statistician is your passion, it is recommended to consider earning the Statistical Business Analyst or SAS certification. Earning this certification will provide you with the possibility of earning a higher salary during your statistician career.
Below are some relevant associations to consider to further your statistics career:
- American Statistical Association (ASA)
- International Statistical Institute (ISI)
- Justice Research and Statistics Association (JRSA)
Earning your statistics degree is a smart decision to enjoy a very productive career as a statistician or mathematician in virtually any field in America today.
- 2017 Is the Year of the Statistician. (2017). Retrieved from http://thisisstatistics.org/2017-is-the-year-of-the-statistician/
- Mathematicians and Statisticians. (2015, Dec. 18). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/mathematicians-and-statisticians.htm#tab-2
- Best Jobs – Statistician Salary. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/statistician/salary
- 10 Best US Cities for Science, Math and Tech Grads. (2013). Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227479