Career Definition for a Statistician
Statisticians collect numerical data and draw conclusions from the information gathered. They develop surveys and conduct studies that help businesses and communities plan for the future. They may predict how well a new product or television show will perform or help community leaders plan future housing needs by forecasting population growth. Their studies may determine the effectiveness of a new drug, the environmental impact of traffic patterns or the likelihood of a team winning the World Series. They are employed throughout the U.S. in a variety of industries, from engineering to medical research, but many statisticians work for the government or in academia.
|Education||Bachelor's or graduate degree in statistics or related area|
|Job Skills||Communication, data analysis, mathematics, organization and computer skills|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$84,060 (all statisticians)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||34% (all statisticians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
While some junior-level positions are available with a bachelor's degree in mathematics or statistics, experienced statisticians generally have a master's degree or Ph.D. in Statistics with an emphasis in a specialized field, such as mathematics, education, science or finance. Many statisticians also study psychology and marketing. Statistical Analysis System (SAS) programming certification can also enhance job opportunities. Internships and fellowships provide on-the-job training and are available through organizations, such as the American Statistical Association (www.amstat.org).
Advanced mathematics and computer skills are essential for a career in statistics. In addition to analytical abilities, statisticians must have excellent communication skills and an understanding of human behavior. They must be able to put numerical data into context, explaining why a particular trend may be occurring and what it might mean in the future. Statisticians must be highly organized and have the ability to work independently and as part of a team.
Career and Economic Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for statisticians will increase at a much faster-than-average rate of 34% from 2016 to 2026. In 2017, the BLS reported that statisticians earned a median wage of $84,060. Statisticians with an advanced degree and experience in a specialized field, as well as specific skills, such as SAS programming proficiency, may have a competitive edge in the job market, according to the BLS.
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Alternative Career Options
Check out similar occupation fields that involve statistical analysis, including actuarial science and market research.
Like statisticians, actuaries compile and analyze statistical data, but actuaries use this data specifically to determine financial risk. Actuaries typically work in the insurance industry, but they may also work in the investment industry. These workers need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in math, statistics or a related field for an entry-level job. Entry-level positions are often trainee positions that allow actuaries to gain experience before taking an actuarial certification exam. Professional actuary certification is required by most employers, and pension actuaries must meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of the Treasury's Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries. In May 2017, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for actuaries was $101,560. The field of actuaries is expected to expand at a much faster-than-average rate of 22% from 2016 to 2026, according to the BLS.
Market Research Analyst
Those who like the analysis part of the statistician's job may also like to work as market research analysts. Market research analysts review and analyze market trends, collect consumer data and develop advertising strategies using this data. This job requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree in market research or statistics, and some positions may require a master's degree in the field. Professional certification is available from the Market Research Association, although certification is voluntary. The BLS reported in May 2017 that market research analysts had a median annual salary of $63,230. This career field is also expected to grow at a much faster-than-average pace of 23% from 2016-2026, according to the BLS.