What Are Today’s Essential Skills for Career Opportunities in Statistics?

one person working on computer and facing camera, with others at large table behind her
one person working on computer and facing camera, with others at large table behind her

In the past, career opportunities in statistics may have been largely limited to jobs at universities or government agencies. But in today’s modern world, successful businesses in nearly every corner of the economy understand the value of big data and applied statistics to their bottom lines and future success.

College and professional sports teams, financial companies, health care businesses, engineering firms, insurance companies, marketing firms, political parties and even mom-and-pop corner stores all know they must use data and statistical analysis to achieve their goals, hit their profit margins and gain an edge over the competition.

What is the Outlook for Career Opportunities in Statistics?

The big data revolution is growing, and its impact on the job market is stunning. The most recent projections show opportunities in statistics are expected to grow by 35% from 2019 to 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Statisticians and mathematicians have one of the best job outlooks in the country.

Statistics careers are often high-paying and come with strong levels of job satisfaction and good work-life balance, according to U.S. News and World Report. The magazine known for its annual rankings of the best jobs in the country ranks statistician as the No. 1 business job. The role achieves its top ranking thanks to above-average upward mobility and below-average job stress.


"Statistician is ranked as the best business job, thanks to above-average upward mobility and below-average job stress."


Statisticians currently earn a median salary of $91,160, more than 220% the national midpoint earnings for all occupations. And the unemployment rate for the field is just 2.8%, less than half the national unemployment rate of 6.6%. These in-demand statistics jobs require specialized skills — and developing those skills calls for focused higher education. The online Master of Science in Applied Statistics degree from Michigan Technological University is designed to prepare you with today’s essential skills for a career in this growing field.

What Are the Skills Needed for Success?

If you’re serious about taking your statistics career to the next level or moving from another STEM field into statistics, you will need to develop the specific skills required in the statistics and mathematics field. Specialized skills are essential in today’s world of big data, complex computational statistics and highly refined analysis.

Let’s take a look at some of the essential skills for career opportunities in statistics.

Competency With Modern Statistical Tools

For contemporary, high-level jobs in statistics, you’ll have to do more than prove you’re trained in traditional statistical methods. You’ll have to show you’re comfortable and competent with the newest statistical tools, like neural networks, machine learning, programming in Python, predictive AI, statistical data mining and computational statistics.

Expertise with all the standard statistical tools, such as regression analysis and statistical inference, is essential. But the best career opportunities will require you to be experienced with the newest tools, too.

An online master’s in statistics like the MSAS from Michigan Tech has you covered on both fronts. The program’s courses cover fundamentals like:

  • Numerical reasoning
  • Hypothesis testing
  • Linear regression
  • Forecasting

The program also prepares you for current career opportunities in statistics by teaching these essential tools within modern frameworks. For example:

  • Upon successful completion of MA5761 Computational Statistics, you will be able to apply basic R functions, generate random variables, apply Monte Carlo methods, use bootstrap and jackknife sampling methods and much more. By learning these computationally intensive statistical methods, you’ll be prepared to quickly translate raw data into usable results for a wide variety of employers.
  • Completing MA5751 Statistical Data Mining will enable you to use linear model selection and regularization, regression and smoothing splines, unsupervised learning, resampling methods, tree-based methods, and deep learning. After you complete this class, you will be equipped to work with data mining tools and methods in statistics fields like market research, helping businesses learn more about their customers.

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Designing Scientific Experiments

Besides analyzing existing data, today’s statisticians and data scientists must also execute scientifically sound experiments. Such experiments are essential to proactively improving outcomes for your employer.

For example, internet giant Google runs hundreds of thousands of experiments every year. From 2017 to 2019, Google executed more than 1.3 million search experiments that ultimately resulted in thousands of improvements to its search results and search experience, according to the SEM Post, a search engine marketing industry publication. And Google seems to be getting even better and more efficient with its experiments.

SEM Post author Jennifer Slegg notes, “What is most interesting … is that Google ran significantly less experiments last year than they did in 2018, however even with fewer experiments, it resulted in more actual improvements to the results.”

Today, experiments matter more than ever. If you want to take advantage of career opportunities in statistics, it won’t be enough to know how to run a single experiment. Leaders in the data science field run 10 times as many experiments just to stay ahead, according to data scientist Daoud Clarke.

Daoud wrote for Towards Data Science, “to be a great data scientist you have to be great at doing experiments.” He continues, “You can never guarantee you’ll get ten times better results by being cleverer or faster. But you can run more experiments. And the more experiments you run, the more likely you are to get better results, the faster you’ll iterate and the faster you’ll learn.”

The importance of statistical experiments is why Michigan Tech’s online master’s in applied statistics includes the three-credit course MA4720 Design and Analysis of Experiments. After completing this course, you will understand and be able to apply the fundamentals of good experimental design, giving you the ability to root your experiments solidly in science. You will also be ready to:

  • Design completely randomized experiments
  • Understand and explain the mathematical models behind your experiments
  • Analyze the results of your experiments and account for aspects like confidence intervals

Insightful Analysis and Interpretation of Data

Data wrangling, database management and data visualization are three of the top 10 skills a data scientist needs, according to Rashi Desai with Towards Data Science. This is what Desai says it takes to be good in each of those areas:

  • The data wrangling process is foundational for further data analysis. This involves “transforming and mapping raw data from one form to another to prep up the data for insights,” Desai explains. “For data wrangling, you basically acquire data, combine relevant fields and then cleanse the data.”
  • Good database management skills allow you to manipulate, validate and test data in order to distill usable results. Desai says that most of the work in an industrial context is in preparing large volumes of data.
  • Data visualization skills enable you to turn your data into charts, graphs, maps and more that drive home the meaning and impact for your employer. This is about both presenting results and understanding underlying conditions.

Michigan Tech’s online master’s in applied statistics is designed to develop your analytical abilities in all of these areas. The program includes Predictive Modeling (MA5790), which covers data pre-processing, over-fitting and model tuning, linear and nonlinear regression models and linear and nonlinear classification models. Once you complete this class, you’ll be able to:

  • Explore data using statistical methods
  • Build and evaluate data models
  • Apply data models for continuous and categorical responses

“Our focused curriculum teaches students to analyze and interpret real-world data, and to make critical decisions based on data,” said Dr. Jiguang Sun, Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Michigan Tech. “Students learn to extract information from data and to articulate their findings in terms that can be understood by a broad audience. These skills make them highly employable in a wide variety of industries, including engineering and technology, healthcare, marketing and e-commerce.”

Communication and Professional Networking Skills

Beyond developing your core statistics skills, you also need to work well with others and develop relationships with professionals in your field. Networking and communications skills are essential to finding and securing the best career opportunities in statistics.

Nearly 80% of professionals consider professional networking important to career success, and 70% of people were hired by companies where they already had a connection, according to LinkedIn.

In fact, LinkedIn itself is an example of just how important networking — and statistics — have become. The social media company has positioned itself as a global leader in professional networking and recruitment, and it has done so by “pushing the boundaries of machine learning research and development,” according to Jesus Rodriguez, CEO of the crypto-intelligence company IntoTheBlock.

Your connections to other professionals in your field can make the difference when it comes to advancing your career in statistics. This is another area where earning a graduate degree can benefit you. Michigan Tech’s online master’s in applied statistics, for example, is intentionally designed to connect you with others in the program and help you build a network of other STEM professionals.

two people sitting together and looking at data charts and graphs on two computer screens

A Master’s Degree and the Path to Career Opportunities in Statistics

According to the BLS, some statistician jobs are available to candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree. But most positions require at least a master’s degree in mathematics or statistics. The need for a master’s in statistics is even more pronounced if you want to work in a private industry, which is also where many of the highest-paying career potential tends to be. Most statisticians have degrees with a quantitative focus, like mathematics or related fields. A degree in statistics typically includes advanced mathematics, survey and research-related courses, plus preparation in probability and theory.

The Potential for Career Advancement

Earning a master’s degree opens the door to more possibilities for jobs in statistics, along with higher earning opportunities.

The lowest 10% of mathematicians in the U.S. earn less than $58,100 and the lowest 10% of statisticians earn less than $52,690, according to the BLS. Meanwhile, the top 10% of mathematicians earn more than $162,060 and the top 10% of statisticians earn more than $146,770. Earning an online master’s in statistics is one of the most effective ways to move yourself up that income scale.

Let’s look at some more specific statistics career paths: For example, mathematicians working for “management, scientific, and technical consulting services” make a median wage of more than $123,000, according to the BLS. Statisticians working in “research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences” earn a median wage of more than $102,000. Here are a few more of the many career opportunities in statistics:

Job Description Average Salary High Salary
Biostatisticians Apply statistics in the biology field, help plan scientific studies, analyze study results $77,000 $119,000
Actuarial analysts Measure risk, often for financial services or insurance companies $65,000 $83,000
Investment analysts Manage stock portfolios by studying market data $65,000 $98,000
Data scientists Answer complex questions using statistics, computer science and data analysis $100,560 $158,000


A Master’s Degree for Today’s Professionals

If you hold a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, statistics or a related field, it probably doesn’t surprise you to know that a master of statistics degree is the best way to advance your career. What you may not know is how much easier earning that degree is today, thanks to online master’s degree programs.

Michigan Tech’s online Master of Science in Applied Statistics is a 10-course, 30-hour program that can be completed in as few as 20 months. The program is 100% online, which makes it ideal for busy working professionals, and it’s fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. There are three start dates every year and an accelerated format with seven-week classes.

Michigan Tech’s curriculum covers all of the most important components of applied statistics, including:

  • Probability and statistical inference
  • Design and analysis of experiments
  • Regression analysis
  • Linear regression
  • Computational statistics
  • Data mining

Developing any one of the skills we’ve covered in this blog can boost your earning potential and expand your potential for higher-level positions. Michigan Tech’s online master’s in applied statistics helps you develop all of them, letting you truly take advantage of the best career options.

The program’s courses cover a broad range of topics and teach you to work with industry-standard statistical and data analysis software. Graduates can stand out from the pack thanks to their comprehensive training and specialized skills, which make them ideal candidates for career opportunities in statistics.

Because the Applied Statistics program teaches advanced statistics skills, it is necessary that students have a strong background in math and statistics. Admission requirements include:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • College coursework in calculus, linear algebra and statistics.
  • A completed application, résumé, personal statements and letters of recommendation.

Elevate Your Career with an Online Master’s in Applied Statistics from Michigan Tech

Michigan Tech is ranked among the top five percent of public schools in the United States, according to U.S. News and World Report, which means students get more value for their investment.

Forbes ranked Michigan Tech among the nation’s best value colleges in 2019. The magazine also listed Michigan Tech among the 100 best public universities in the nation. Niche.com ranks Michigan Tech among the top 35 public universities in America, the No. 2 best value in Michigan and the No. 14 college for informational technology in the nation.

Are you ready to develop the skills needed for today’s leading career opportunities in statistics? Take the next step toward your Master of Science in Applied Statistics from Michigan Tech by setting up a call with your enrollment advisor. Whether you have a simple question or need advice to determine if this program is right for you, they can help. They can chat with you on your schedule and guide you through the entire admissions process, so you can feel confident in moving forward with your online master’s program.

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