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Pharmaceutical Biostatistician: Job Description, Duties and Salary

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a pharmaceutical biostatistician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and employment to find out if this is the career for you.

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A pharmaceutical biostatistician combines biological methods and statistics to help develop medicinal drugs. They usually work with a team of researchers, employed by drug corporations. Salary varies widely by industry, but statisticians in general earn nearly $84,440 per year.

Essential Information

A pharmaceutical biostatistician applies mathematical concepts and statistical methods to plan, design and interpret surveys, experiments and clinical trials of new medicines. In this field, there's a strong correlation between years of work experience and higher median annual earnings. Biostatisticians in general usually have a master's degree; a Ph.D. could lead to better job opportunities.

Required Education Master's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 34% for statisticians (much faster than average)
Average Annual Salary (2015)* $84,440 for statisticians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Pharmaceutical biostatisticians work for drug companies and regulatory agencies to conduct statistical research that aids the development of new types of drug treatments and therapies. Working with research biologists, chemists, animal researchers, regulators, marketers and doctors, pharmaceutical biostatisticians participate in all phases of a medication's development. Their work combines specific scientific goals with statistical modeling and relies heavily on the use of computers and databases.

Pharmaceutical biostatisticians ensure that a company's time and money are spent in the most efficient way possible, that animal and human test subjects encounter as few adverse effects as possible, and that medications conform to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or other regulations.

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Job Duties

In coordinating and planning multi-phase clinical drug trials, pharmaceutical biostatisticians use statistical knowledge and industry expertise to figure out the appropriate complexity, size and duration for testing. They apply the scientific method in predicting and then testing outcomes by collecting, analyzing and interpreting data on reactions, side effects and safety. They use statistical software to perform tests such as binomial comparisons, logistic regressions and longitudinal analyses.

Once they have conducted their research and analyzed the data, pharmaceutical biostatisticians must interpret, summarize and report the results. They explain their findings to other scientists and physicians and educate them on using statistical databases. They also present reports and write journal articles and press releases, which they might read at professional conferences or submit to news outlets or marketers. Regulatory agencies also receive reports, and the information pharmaceutical biostatisticians gather is used to help develop drug labeling and marketing.

Salary Information

In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an average yearly salary of $84,440 for statisticians in general and $94,740 for those employed by pharmaceutical or medicine manufacturing companies (www.bls.gov). Salary.com figures accessed in September 2016 show median salaries for biostatisticians ranging from $152,207 to $187,772 depending upon years of experience and level of education.

The pharmaceutical biostatistician engages in mathematical research and clinical trials. They seek to determine a drug's safety, adverse effects, reaction, and effectiveness, then publish their findings. A graduate degree is often required to work in this rapidly-growing field, which had median salaries starting at $152,207 in 2016.

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