A Complete Guide to Earning a Master’s in Applied Statistics

michigan tech applied stats Complete Guide to Earning a Masters in Applied Statistics
michigan tech applied stats Complete Guide to Earning a Masters in Applied Statistics

Do you love using logic, inductive reasoning, and deductive reasoning to solve complex problems? Do you have a knack for sifting through data and identifying key insights? If so, consider earning a master’s in applied statistics.

With a master’s in applied statistics, you can pursue career roles like:

  • Data scientist
  • Market research analyst
  • Business operations analyst
  • Actuary 
  • Biostatistician
  • Sports statistician
  • Financial analyst
  • Information security analysts
  • And many more

What do those working with applied statistics do?

Professionals working with applied statistics use various tools and models to gain relevant insights from large amounts of data. They do this using predictive modeling, forecasting, statistical data mining, parametric estimation, and other tools. In the simplest terms, they collect, analyze, and interpret data to understand trends, develop insights, and make predictions.

Statisticians in applied statistics may analyze a business’s pricing or cost data to predict future annual revenue and profit. They may evaluate financial data to determine likely risks for an insurance company. Or they may collect and review worker data to determine unemployment rates for legislative purposes.

What separates applied statistics from statistics in general or statistical theory is, well, the term “applied.” Those pursuing a master’s in applied statistics and relevant careers “apply” statistical models, theories, and tools to real-world situations. They solve real-world problems by collecting and analyzing data in practical settings.

The very tools and theories that are applied, though, are usually developed by statistical theorists or academics. In their case, they study and develop various mathematical and statistical theories, tools, and models. Many interested in this type of “less applied” statistical work ends up in academia or certain research organizations. 

For those interested in applying statistics to real-world settings, there are many industries in need of these skills. Industries open to those with a master’s in applied statistics include:

  • Business and finance
  • Medical research
  • Sports and entertainment
  • IT and cybersecurity
  • Government
  • Academia and research

Applied Statistics Online

What skills are needed for success in applied statistics roles?

There are several skills and aptitudes required to enjoy and be successful in any role that relies on applied statistics.

A proficiency in logic, as well as inductive and deductive reasoning, are necessary to start. Since applied statistics involves data and predictive modeling tools, a penchant for quantitative analysis and problem-solving is also critical. And an affinity for mathematics is incredibly helpful for those thinking about a career related to applied statistics.

But these skills are not enough. Those who enjoy working in applied statistics tend to have particular interests and personality temperaments as well. Below is just a small sampling of the traits that many interested in applied statistics exhibit:

  • Love of working with numbers and data
  • A desire to collect and organize information
  • An inquisitive personality that is always wondering “Why?”
  • An inclination for problem-solving and tackling puzzles
  • A desire to discern key insights to help people or organizations

Beyond these core skills, interests, and temperaments, one’s interests and passions can be quite diverse.

Those interested in sports find roles using applied statistics to help professional teams identify key stats and trends. Those interested in biology or the environment employ applied statistics to study animal populations or carbon emission trends. And those who love statistical theories for their own sake pursue doctorates and acquire teaching and research positions.

What is the career outlook for those with a master’s in applied statistics?

The career outlook for those with a master’s in applied statistics is very favorable. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an employment growth rate of 30 percent for statisticians between 2018 and 2028 (source). Aside from the salary, there are several other benefits, including job flexibility and low stress working conditions. In fact, “statistician” was listed as the sixth-best job for 2020, according to U.S. News and World Report (source).

As already mentioned, those with a master’s in applied statistics are not limited to being statisticians. Many with a master’s in applied statistics can pursue the following careers that all have favorable job outlooks:

  • Operations research analyst - Median salary of $83,390 (source)
  • Financial manager - Median salary of $127,990 (source)
  • Database administrator - Median salary of $90,070 (source)
  • IT manager - Median salary of $142,530 (source)
  • Actuary - Median salary of $102,880 (source)
  • Information security analyst - Median salary of $98,350 (source)
  • Biostatistician - Average salary of $131,621 (source)

These and countless other roles have extremely favorable job outlooks and healthy salary ranges.

What is required to enroll in a master’s in applied statistics program?

A good master's in applied statistics program will empower students to collect, analyze, and interpret data. Coursework will familiarize students with a range of sophisticated statistical methods and tools to apply to real-world settings. They will also help students achieve a better understanding of various mathematical and statistical theories.

However, there are certain pre-requirements for those interested in pursuing a master's in applied statistics. Students need to have earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution of higher learning. And they also need to have successfully taken college-level coursework in calculus, linear algebra, and statistics.

For students who graduated a while ago or didn't earn a quantitative degree, taking community college courses is an option. A graduate program will delve into various sophisticated topics related to mathematics and statistics. It’s crucial that entering students have a strong quantitative base from which to draw.

What types of master's in applied statistics programs are available?

There are many options for pursuing a master’s in applied statistics.

Full-Time Face-to-Face and Hybrid Programs

Some graduate programs are full-time and offer face-to-face or hybrid (online and face-to-face) instruction. A full-time program usually takes one or two years to complete, depending on whether it’s “accelerated”. While this option requires a lot of time and effort, it’s the quickest option for those who can do it.

Part-Time Face-to-Face and Hybrid Programs

Most programs allow students to attend part-time, which is ideal for those working full-time or with family commitments. Completing a program part-time can take two or more years, depending on the number of courses taken each semester. The part-time option tends to be popular for those established in their careers or with other personal obligations.

Online Programs

Similar to part-time programs, online master’s in applied statistics programs are ideal for those with time-intensive professional or family commitments. They allow for increased flexibility, and students can work at their own pace (whether taken full- or part-time). Online programs also allow students to attend programs outside their geographic area of residence.

What next if I’m ready to pursue a master’s in applied statistics?

Are you ready to take the next step toward earning your master’s in applied statistics? If so, take a look at Michigan Tech’s online master's in applied statistics to learn more.

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