How to Become a Medical Statistician

Become a Medical Statistician
Become a Medical Statistician

Accurate measurements and data analyses are invaluable throughout healthcare systems. Sound statistical methods in clinical trials, university research, and hospital operations support better patient outcomes. Medical statisticians - also known as biostatisticians - set the foundations for health research and clinical decision-making.

Professionals in this career path regularly use their applied statistics and healthcare industry knowledge. Merging these knowledge areas is possible with a graduate-level education. You will need an advanced degree to stay competitive in this growing field. As you consider a degree, it is a good idea to learn what medical statisticians do and job prospects for the field.

Medical Statistician Job Responsibilities

Medical statisticians design clinical studies, quality improvement projects, and other data-gathering methods in healthcare settings. They are involved in every step of a project’s development from study design through publication of research results. Typical employers for medical statisticians include:

  • Integrated healthcare systems
  • Pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies
  • Public health departments
  • University research institutes and medical schools

Statisticians in healthcare settings may simultaneously oversee studies and projects in different stages. We can use the example of a medical statistician employed by a pharmaceutical company to understand their daily responsibilities. This statistics professional might work on the following tasks in a day:

  • Optimizing sample sizes for upcoming clinical trials of new medications and products
  • Updating case report forms with data from ongoing trials
  • Modeling trial results for data on positive and negative impacts
  • Writing the methods section for an application to a regulatory body like the FDA

This career path is highly collaborative as health statistics interact with many aspects of healthcare. That is, medical statisticians work with physician-scientists, medical writers, clinical managers, and regulatory affairs specialists. They may also work with statisticians at other organizations as part of large-scale research projects.

Preparing for a Medical Statistician Career

An undergraduate degree with a mathematics focus is a good starting point for a career in medical statistics. Professionals pursuing nursing or other care-focused degrees can also leave statistics career options open by taking a few college courses. Successful coursework in calculus, linear algebra, and statistics is helpful no matter your college degree.

The entry point into a medical statistician career is a master’s degree in applied statistics. This discipline uses statistical methods in analyzing and solving real-world challenges. Medical statisticians build advanced skills in the following areas during their graduate education:

  • Designing and evaluating experiments
  • Communicating research results to stakeholders
  • Using programming languages like R and Python to solve problems
  • Using SAS software for data mining and analysis

Success as a medical statistician, however, extends beyond fluency in statistics and data analytics. Medical statisticians need project management skills as they oversee junior staff members and balance research responsibilities. They also need a good understanding of medical ethics and professional standards.

Career Outlook and Salary for Medical Statisticians

Increasing complexity in clinical research and health services means there is a high demand for medical statisticians. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 32% growth in jobs for all statisticians from 2022 to 2032. This projection far exceeds an estimated 3% growth in jobs for all occupations during the same period and means more than 10,000 statisticians are needed.

Long-term demand for statistics professionals in health fields also translates into above-average salaries. The BLS found a median salary of $98,920 for statisticians in 2022 compared to $46,310 for all occupations. Experience and specialized knowledge can lead to higher salaries, with the top 10% of earners reporting salaries of at least $161,300.

Aspiring medical statisticians can boost their career prospects by studying at a leading university. A graduate education focused on the latest methods and tools prepares statisticians for future opportunities. Michigan Tech University offers a Master of Science in Applied Statistics that achieves these goals.

Preparing for Statistics Careers at Michigan Tech University

Michigan Tech’s innovative degree provides entryways into in-demand fields such as medical statistics. This entirely online program uses seven-week courses for accelerated learning opportunities. Applied statistics students work with experienced faculty members on several subjects including:

  • Computational Statistics
  • Design and Analysis of Experiments
  • Regression Analysis
  • Time Series Analysis and Forecasting

Prospective students with undergraduate calculus, linear algebra, and statistics coursework are well-positioned for admission. A ten-week bridge course in linear algebra is available for incoming students. Michigan Tech does not require GRE or GMAT scores in its free graduate application process.

Graduates of this innovative program benefit from Michigan Tech’s strong national reputation. Wall Street Journal ranked Michigan Tech second in the country for graduate salary impact in 2023. Michigan Tech also placed among national leaders in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings:

  • No. 80 in Top Public Schools
  • No. 104 in Best Colleges for Veterans
  • No. 151 in National Universities
  • No. 163 in Best Value Schools

Learn more about how Michigan Tech’s MS in Applied Statistics can open doors to a career in medical statistics.