Statistician: Educational Overview for a Career in Statistics

Statisticians require a significant amount of formal education. Learn more about the degree programs and job duties to figure out if this is the right career for you.

A statistician works for various companies interpreting data and making estimates and hypotheses, among other tasks. These professionals must be adroit in statistical mathematics and software, usually requiring at least a master's degree in their field, and many research positions demand a doctorate.

Essential Information

Statisticians use their numerical skills to analyze data for corporations, government agencies and other organizations for a variety of purposes. While some jobs are available to those with a bachelor's degree, most positions require the completion of graduate schooling.

Required Education Master's degree, some positions require a doctoral degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 34% (much faster than average)
Mean Annual Salary (2015)* $84,440

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Overview for Statisticians

Statisticians are professionals who use their knowledge in mathematics to solve problems. They might design projects, such opinion polls, surveys, consumer ratings or other samplings, and interpret the results, looking for patterns and making conclusions. According to the American Statistical Association, statisticians have many career options in numerous fields, such as market research, medicine and government surveying (www.amstat.org).

Undergraduate Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some jobs with the federal government are available to individuals with a bachelor's degree in statistics or mathematics (www.bls.gov). Undergraduate programs offer students the option of majoring in mathematical or applied statistics. These curricula include coursework in statistics and other advanced mathematics, such as calculus, differential equations and linear algebra. Computer programming, software and science courses are typically required as well.

Graduate Requirements

Graduate-level statistics programs are offered in several specializations, such as biostatistics, econometrics and computational finance. Regardless of specialty, most programs include coursework in experimental design and research methods. Master's degree programs in general statistics provide an overview of major statistical methods and techniques. Some programs allow students the option of choosing either a thesis or a research project.

The BLS states that most research and academic positions for statisticians require a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Concentrations similar to master's programs are offered at the Ph.D. level. Course requirements vary, depending on whether applicants have earned a master's degree or not.

The first years of a Ph.D. program include advanced coursework in major statistical areas, like probability. As doctoral candidates begin working on their thesis, the coursework shifts toward a student's interest. Some programs allow students to create their plan of study with the assistance of a faculty adviser or graduate committee. Ph.D. candidates could have the opportunity to perform consultative services or teach undergraduates.

Career Information

Professional Outlook

The BLS indicated that employment opportunities for statisticians are expected to increase 34% from 2014-2024. A major factor influencing the expected growth is the rise of computer-based technologies that track statistics, which require statisticians to interpret the data. Additionally, the increases in pharmaceutical trials could improve job options for those specializing in biostatistics.

Salary Information

The BLS reported that in May, 2015 the average salary for statisticians was $84,440 annually. The top three employers of statisticians at the time were federal government agencies, scientific research and development services, and state government.

The degree needed by a particular statistician depends upon his/her position and employer. Most possess a master's degree or doctorate. Job growth in this profession is quite promising as noted by the projected 34% increase.

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