Do your natural talents include math and logic? Do you have a thirst for learning and investigating? Are you comfortable relaying results to an audience? statistician. With data becoming more readily available from a variety of sources, employers in a variety of fields are looking for applied statisticians.
What is a Statistician?
A statistician is an individual who
- Studies the business or research question at hand to determine what is already known
- Collects data
- Analyzes data, accounting for the business context and appropriate analytical technique
- Interprets and reports the results to business leaders
Duties Performed by Professional Statisticians
A professional statistician has a wide range of skills and capabilities. The following are common standards sought among statistician job requirements.
A statistician needs to be comfortable interviewing individuals or groups, either to prepare for a study or in the context of the study itself. The interviews may be held with the decision-makers and stakeholders to ensure a thorough understanding of the business/research question. Interviews might also be conducted with those participating in the study for further understanding and to elicit additional insights.
It is critical for a statistician to employ the most appropriate design to answer a business/research question, which is typically customized to a particular question. This tends to involve controlling for extraneous variables that may affect the results beyond those put in play by the researcher. The statistician also makes the determination if the question requires a longitudinal study or if a retrospective study may be more beneficial.
Data collection involves determining who or what comprises the target sample and how to best collect it to minimize potential bias (and therefore error). The statistician needs to calculate the appropriate size of a sample to ensure that any test conducted is sufficiently powerful to detect a result. Data needs to be properly prepared for analysis; this frequently involves determining reasons for missing information and how to best resolve any other data abnormalities.
Analysis of data takes a variety of forms as dictated by both the business/research question and the study design. A statistician might perform a test to determine:
- Group differences; for example, did an experimental group have a statistically significant health improvement over a control group?
- Dimension reduction; taking a large set of responses and reducing them to a more manageable list of factors.
- Prediction analysis; particularly in marketing, when discerning what products or services a company’s customers may want.
- Process analysis and quality control; to reduce waste and improve efficiency in manufacturing.
Statisticians frequently report their results to non-technical audiences; therefore, they must be able to do so in ways that are accurate and straightforward. Most statistician job requirements include the ability to graph results and create visual presentations. Statisticians may do more than report to the decision-makers or stakeholders – they may also disseminate their findings in professional journals or at conferences.
Statistician Fields of Employment
Prominent statistician John Tukey stated, “the best thing about being a statistician is that you get to play in everyone’s backyard.” Statisticians employ their skills in a variety of settings including but certainly not limited to:
- Health science
Do you have a love for baseball? Think about the movie Money Ball — it was a statistician who determined the formula to create the best possible baseball team. Fascinated by crime? You could become a forensic statistician.
Statistician Salary and Career Prospects
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a statistician in 2018 was $88,190 per year. How much a statistician makes varies by education and experience and can easily go into the six-figure range. Statistical careers are projected to grow approximately 33% between now and 2026 (a growth pattern that is much faster than average). Companies are becoming increasingly more interested in using data to inform their strategies, create efficiencies, and ultimately save resources.
How to Become a Statistician
What degree do you need to become a statistician? Zippia, a career site, conducted a survey of statisticians in terms of education and prior experience. Most respondents indicated having a master’s degree (41.0%), followed by a bachelor's (29.6%) or a doctorate (14.5%). Typical majors included statistics (32.9%), business (9.4%), biostatistics (7.4%), and math (6.9%). Statisticians reported having prior work experience as research assistants, data analysts, or interns.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Statistician?
A statistician’s education is key to a successful career. Anyone interested in such a discipline needs to locate a program that is rigorous and robust and ideally teaches how to take statistical theory and apply it to real-world problems. Many employers seek an individual with a master’s degree. Programs like the Masters in Applied Statistics Online offered by Michigan Technological University offers students the right education and training for a long, intellectually satisfying career.