Earning A Master's Degree In Statistics: Is it Worth It?

students studying statistics
students studying statistics

A common question for professionals considering an advanced degree is: is a master’s in applied statistics worth it? For working adults who have to be cognizant of time-management and balance between a full-time job and other commitments, it may be helpful to look at the benefits of obtaining an online master's in applied statistics.

Why Study Applied Statistics?

With the tremendous growth in the amount and availability of data, now more than ever, most employers are seeking individuals with data backgrounds. Employers need people who can not only manage the data but have the capability of analyzing it in a meaningful fashion. It isn't enough to train someone who lacks an analytical education in how to operate statistical software packages or business intelligence packages. The frequent result of such practice is misapplied analyses, misinterpreted results, and lost opportunities. These errors mean the resources spent heading in the wrong direction.

Learning statistics means learning the fundamentals of how to:

  • Understanding the context behind the questions being asked to design a study
  • Appropriately collecting and preparing data for the most pertinent results
  • Applying the right analyses for the most accurate results
  • Interpreting, visualizing, and communicating the results in a clear, compelling way

An advanced degree such as an online master's in applied statistics (or applied statistics) provides an opportunity to learn the more sophisticated procedures for analyses and the theories that support them. The capacity to determine good studies from poor ones can go with you not only to your job but anywhere else where data are presented for decision-making purposes. This could be your city for budget purposes or even your child's school. The critical-thinking skills you develop in such a program serve for almost any instance where evidence is presented for action purposes.

Beyond that, a genuinely worthwhile master’s in statistics program will teach you leadership skills—statisticians don't work "behind the scenes" anymore. You will often find statisticians in business designing and developing a project and overseeing its progress. Frequently it is the statistician who takes a leadership role in sharing the results with senior leaders and stakeholders.

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Master's Degree in Applied Statistics Employment Opportunities

Per PayScale, the average annual salary for those with a Master of Science in Statistics is $80,000. This average alone could certainly make obtaining a master's in statistics worth it. That median is $20,000 higher than that for individuals holding a bachelor's in statistics. With a master's degree and relevant work experience, you could easily be making a six-figure salary. Not only that, but U.S. News & World Report ranks statistician as the No.1 Best Business Job, No. 2 in 100 Best Jobs, and No. 2 in Best STEM Jobs.

Employers appreciate the advanced knowledge and analytical skill that a master's degree holding employee brings to the role of statistician or data analyst. However, they also understand the dedication and determination required to complete an advanced degree. The person who is willing to invest their time and other resources to obtain a master's in statistics is also very likely the person who will be invested in their job.

What Types of Jobs are Available?

Statisticians can be found in a variety of environments, ranging from highly scientific arenas to sports. More companies are seeing the value of having in-house statisticians. This is certainly the case even in highly creative industries such as marketing. Marketers make very strategic use of data. They greatly benefit from having a statistician to design product experiments, help them better understand their customers, and build models to predict growth and returns. Many industries use statisticians to help them better understand risks and assist in modeling more efficient operations. Statisticians can also collaborate with individuals across numerous disciplines. For example, in health care, professionals often team with statisticians to design and analyze clinical experiments and quality improvement projects.

Still concerned if it is worth it to have a master's in statistics? Consider the fact that statisticians are in demand, and supply may not be keeping up. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook, which is predicted to grow by 33% between 2016 and 2026, is increasing much faster than average. While the number of master's degrees conferred in mathematics and statistics grew 31% from 2013 to 2017, this is possibly not sufficient to staff the employment needs of today or in the future.

What About the Logistics of Earning a Master's in Applied Statistics?

Given the necessary rigor of such a program, you might be wondering if you should take a master's in applied statistics online, or even complete your entire program online. Given the right program, the answer is definitely yes. You will want to investigate online programs that will help you:

  • Develop advanced analytical skills
  • Leverage real-world issues and related datasets for problem-solving
  • Use current and emerging technology and software
  • Learn to communicate results effectively
  • Acquire leadership skills

One such program worth investigating is Michigan Technological University's Master of Science in Applied Statistics. This program covers all of the points listed above and can assist you in positioning yourself strongly for a new or enhanced analytical career. Speak with an enrollment advisor to learn more today.

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