A statistician collects and analyzes numerical data, collating the statistics into understandable formats. A wide range of fields may employ statistics to some degree. Among these include biology, economics, engineering, medicine, marketing, and sports. Statisticians interpret their collected data to allow people to make informed decisions.
Statistician Job Description
Statisticians have a wide range of roles in both private and public sector fields. For example, a government statistician may work with the Census Bureau to present data about a region and chart demographic trends. A private sector statistician could design a study of a new prescription drug before it goes on the market.
Due to the number of different careers involving statistics, a statistician may be named differently depending upon the field of study. A statistician working to sort through economic statistics might be labeled an econometrician, for example.
The growth outlook for statisticians is slow to moderate, due to the highly technical nature of the career. However, statistical science is employed by a number of occupations related to statistician. Not all of the similar careers will be labeled or named as a statistician, despite the job requirements and actual work duties being nearly the same. This can make it difficult to provide an exact outlook about the growth outlook for statisticians.
Statistician Training and Education Requirements
A master’s level degree is often required in mathematics or statistics for most statistician jobs. Jobs in the academic or research fields typically require a Ph.D. in statistics. In addition, industrial research jobs may ask for several years of experience as a statistician.
However, the federal government requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. This includes at least 15 semester hours of statistics or a combination of mathematics and statistics totaling 15 hours. The mathematics and statistics combination requires that at least 6 of the hours be statistics. For qualification as a federal government statistician, a minimum of 24 hours of mathematics and statistics is required. Of the hours, 6 must be in statistics, while 12 of the hours must be in an area of advanced mathematics (calculus, differential equations, or vector analysis, for example).
Due to the frequent use of computers, statisticians in all fields will need a strong background in computer science. Statistical modeling is becoming an increasingly used tool for statisticians, as is new software designed specifically for statistical analysis. Statisticians must be able to work competently with these new capabilities.
Depending upon the intended field of employment, a statistician should have at least moderate knowledge of the intended field. Some schools may offer graduate-level coursework in applied statistics for certain fields. An undergraduate degree in statistics is usually not required for acceptance into graduate-level statistics. However, a strong foundation in mathematics is crucial.
A statistician should have excellent interpersonal communication skills. Often, a statistician’s work will need to be presented to people with little or no knowledge of technical matters. Being able to relay the data in an understandable manner is key.
After graduation, a beginning statistician will typically be overseen by an experienced statistician for a period of time. This allows the beginning statistician to be mentored. With more experience, opportunities for advancement and promotion will come. However, statisticians with advanced degrees are more likely candidates for promotion. Statisticians holding master level degrees or a Ph.D. frequently enjoy a high degree of independence in their work. Statisticians with that level of education may receive the opportunity to engage in research of their choosing, or become statistical consultants after years of experience in one field.
A statistician is usually able to work regular hours in an office. Some occasional travel may be required to present the final set of data. Additional duties can vary widely depending upon the field the statistician is working in. Academic statisticians, for example, may have teaching duties during some hours of the day.
Statistician Salary and Wages
The salary and wages for a statistician will vary with experience level and the field of study. As of May 2008, the median annual salary-and-wage for statisticians was $72,610. The middle 50 percent of statisticians received wages from $52,730 to $95,170. Statisticians employed by the federal government were paid an average of $92,322 as of March 2009. At the same point in time, mathematical statisticians were averaging $107,015 for their salary.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Depending on the field of employment, statisticians may seek a range of certifications. For example, an actuary (a statistician who works to assess the likelihood of risk through numbers) may receive certification through the Society of Actuaries (SOA) for health benefit systems, life insurance, and retirement systems. A certification can demonstrate competence and commitment to the field of employment and allow statisticians to show their qualifications for the field.
Statistician Professional Associations
The American Statistical Association (ASA) is the primary overarching association for statisticians and statistics-related occupations, and has been in existence since 1839. The ASA promotes the advancement of statistical science, with research journals, seminars, and member networking. ASA members number over 18,000 and are working in more than 90 countries around the world.
Professional associations for more specific statistical fields will depend upon the field of study.