Clinical Biostatistics: Education and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a clinical biostatistician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about employment projections and salary statistics to find out if this is the career for you.

Clinical biostatisticians are commonly employed by public health, biotechnology, research, and pharmacology industries. Some entry-level jobs in biostatistics may only require a bachelor's degree; however, most employers require candidates to have a master's degree, and those who have completed a Ph.D. program often enjoy more job opportunities.

Essential Information

Clinical biostatistics involves the gathering and analysis of medical data for public health research and pharmaceutical development. Clinical biostatisticians typically complete at least a master's degree program in statistics or biological science before pursuing work for pharmaceutical companies, private research firms or government health agencies.

Required Education Master's degree in statistics or biological science
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 34% for all statisticians
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $80,110 for all statisticians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Information for Clinical Biostatisticians

A bachelor's degree may qualify individuals for some biostatistics jobs. Most research positions, such as clinical trial work or public health research, require the completion of at least a master's program. Opportunities are increased for biostatisticians who earn a Ph.D.

Students who complete a bachelor's program and have a statistics background typically are qualified for admission to graduate biostatistics programs. A bachelor's degree in statistics, or a biological sciences program supplemented with statistics courses, can generally satisfy graduate academic prerequisites. Relevant coursework includes linear algebra, calculus, probability theory and computer programming.

A biostatistics master's program can last up to two years. Earning a doctoral degree can take 4-6 years. Graduate biostatistics curricula commonly feature coursework in bioinformatics, clinical trial principles, regression analysis, Bayesian methodology, applied multivariate methodology and statistical computing.

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Career Information for Clinical Biostatisticians

Biostatistical work can be found in a variety of fields, such as pharmacology, biotechnology, genetics and public health. The National Institutes of Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, pharmaceutical companies and private research firms are among organizations that rely on biostatistics.

Clinical biostatisticians may design statistical methodologies for clinical trials performed by pharmaceutical companies, perform epidemiological research for public health groups or help geneticists analyze genomic data. Specific duties include performing surveys, deciding upon sampling techniques, compiling data sets and preparing reports for chief researchers and regulatory bodies.

Salary and Job Outlook Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from May 2015, the median annual salary for statisticians, including biostatisticians, was $80,110. The BLS projects employment for statisticians will grow by 34% from 2014 to 2024.

To be eligible for a master's program in biostatistics, students should have a background in statistics; probability theory, computer programming, and linear algebra are likewise relevant subjects to study. A master's degree in this field might take two years to complete, while a Ph.D. program can last anywhere from four to six years. Job duties vary depending on the industry, and could involve developing methodologies for clinical studies or conducting surveys and compiling data.

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