Statisticians use mathematical and statistical theories and other methods to collect, organize, explain, analyze, and summarize numerical data. They then use this data to provide mathematical information to other individuals who don’t have a background in math or stats, as well as to solve real-world problems. Popular fields for statisticians include business, agriculture, engineering, health care, pharmaceuticals, economics, and more.
Education and Experience Needed
Most statisticians obtain a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, statistics, or survey methodology. However, this degree is usually only good for an entry-level position. To excel and grow in the field, many statisticians choose to obtain a master’s degree in statistics or math. This added education prepares them for more complex methods of gathering and analyzing data. To qualify for research at a university, statisticians will need to have a doctorate degree or be in pursuit of one.
According to recent data, 48 percent of statisticians have a master’s degree, 28 percent have a bachelor’s degree, 20 percent have a doctorate degree, and the remainder possesses a different level of schooling.
Work experiences can vary greatly depending on the experience level of the individual. Because of the competitive nature of job prospects, many universities recommend completing an internship prior to graduation to make connections and gain valuable on-the-job experience. Doctoral candidates can also gain experience by working as teachers’ assistants at the university level.
Potential statisticians can usually find entry-level jobs with a bachelor’s degree, although a mix of a master’s degree and two to five years of work experience is necessary for advancement. To add to their resume, statisticians should also consider certification from the American Statistical Association, or ASA. Recent graduates should attain the Graduate Statistician (GStat) certification prior to applying for the PStat. The PStat gives statisticians the title of Accredited Professional Statistician, although it’s based on a portfolio instead of an exam. Typically, the portfolio must contain work experience, education, an essay, and letters of recommendation.
In addition to work experience and education, many employers look for other tangible skills such as critical thinking, analytical skills, written and verbal communication skills, interpersonal communication skills, and knowledge of basic information technology (IT).
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that statisticians occupy 33,440 positions throughout the country at a median annual salary of $80,500, or $38.70 per hour. The top 10 percent of earners make $62.54 an hour, or the equivalent of $130,090 a year. The bottom 10 percent of statisticians earn $22.35 hourly, or $46,500 annually. About 15 percent of statisticians work for the government, 14 percent in scientific research, 13 percent in insurance, and roughly 9 percent in universities and professional schools.
Average Duties and Tasks
Depending on the industry, the daily work of a statistician can differ significantly. However, most jobs have similar daily tasks. To begin, a statistician will either receive data or come up with a questionnaire or other method to get the data he or she needs for interpretation. Once they have the data, statisticians use proven statistical methods to find similarities or differences in data that can help other branches or departments of a company formulate strategies, as well as identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
In other instances, statisticians design research projects using proven scientific techniques and information obtained from historical studies. This might also include developing all new methods for gathering data or creating new methods to obtain data that are more straightforward, useful, or accurate.
Other duties and responsibilities might include analyzing trends, acting as a consultant to explain data to those who don’t have mathematical backgrounds, providing projected figures, making forecasts on market conditions, analyzing trends in a particular industry, attending meetings, and presenting information in a variety of formats to investors, co-workers, and others.
Although experience plays a part in advancement opportunities, education is perhaps the most important factor. Without a master’s or a doctorate degree, opportunity for advancement is rare or nonexistent, so statisticians should always seek out more education or inquire with their employers about tuition reimbursement or college programs.
Statisticians with an entrepreneurial spirit can also pursue alternative job opportunities, such as a private business for consultant work, as well as a consultant for other companies.
In addition, statistics show that job growth for statisticians is expected to increase 33 percent over the next 10 years, making it three times more attractive than the national average for all other job growth. This is primarily due to the explosion in digital and electronic data.