How to Become a Clinical Statistician: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Explore the requirements to become a clinical statistician. Learn about the job description, and review the step-by-step process that can help you start a career in clinical statistics. View article »

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  • 0:03 Clinical Statisticians
  • 0:23 Career Skills & Info
  • 1:03 Step 1: Bachelor's Degree
  • 1:39 Step 2: Master's Degree
  • 2:25 Step 3: Ph.D. Degree
  • 2:44 Step 4: Experience

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Video Transcript

Clinical Statisticians

Clinical statisticians organize, research and conduct polls, trials, and other methods of data collection in the pharmaceutical and scientific fields. They use computer software and various other tools to analyze and record data and present reports. Clinical statisticians typically work full-time.

Career Skills & Info

Degree Level Master's degree at minimum; Ph.D. may be required
Degree Field Statistics, mathematics, or survey methodology
Experience 3-5 years of experience in the field
Key Skills Excellent writing, communication, critical thinking, and problem solving skills; computer skills relating to SAS programming, S-Plus, and WinBugs
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 34% growth, much faster than average
Average Salary (2015)* $84,440 (for all statisticians)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale.com, CareerBuilder.com job postings (November 2012)

Step 1: Get a Bachelor's Degree

Students who are interested in careers as clinical statisticians can begin with a bachelor's degree program in mathematics and computational science, health sciences, or statistics. Undergraduate programs typically offer specialized electives in data analysis, genetic and ecologic modeling and statistical methodology. In many cases, a bachelor's degree program in engineering or science can also be an acceptable field of study. Four-year programs can help students prepare for a graduate degree program - the usual requirement for clinical statisticians.

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  • Medical Illustration
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Step 2: Master's Degree

A master's degree program in statistics or mathematics can help students develop the skills needed to work as clinical statisticians: most employers require it. These programs usually include courses in statistical methods and theory, applied statistics, and SAS programming languages. Most graduate schools require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in statistics, mathematics, engineering, or science and pass written or oral exams as a condition of enrollment.

Success Tip:

Gain experience through an internship or a summer program. Internships give students the opportunity to apply their skills to hands-on projects and can help increase chances of employment after graduation.

Step 3: Ph.D. Degree

Many employers prefer clinical statisticians that have earned a Doctor of Philosophy (or Ph.D.) in statistics, which can translate to more career options in research and academics. These programs typically include courses in advanced statistical theory, analysis, and methodology.

Step 4: Experience

New clinical statisticians can look for employment in the biomedical or pharmaceutical industries. Entry-level positions such as a consultant, statistician, research assistant, or clinical research coordinator usually require one or two years of internship or other prior experience. Entry-level positions can provide the minimum three years of experience in the field required for clinical statisticians or another advanced career in the health industry.

Let's briefly go over the information we covered. Clinical statisticians usually need a master's or even a doctoral degree in statistics or a closely related field and three years of experience to qualify for a job. As of May 2015, they earned an average of $84,440 a year in a field that's expected to grow by a much-faster-than-average rate through 2024.

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