What Does a Statistical Programmer Do? - Job Description & Salary

Jun 04, 2020

What is a Statistical Programmer?

Statistical programmers are a variety of statistician who specialize in creating computer software that can collect, analyze and report information from large databases. Statistical programmers can find work in a number of fields, from biotech and pharmaceutical research to the court systems to corporate offices. The analyzed data output from statistical programs is useful for financial and scientific purposes, among many others.

Statistical programmers commonly work with a type of software and programming language called Statistical Analysis System, or SAS. Thus, job listings for statistical programmers may specifically ask for 'SAS programmers,' a designation which does require some additional certification and specialization to claim. Other programming languages, such as Python or Visual Basic, may also be important for statistical programmers.

Educational Requirements Master's degree preferred, bachelor's acceptable for entry-level roles
Job Skills Strong computer skills, detail-oriented, and able to effectively communicate, knowledge of advanced mathematics and statistics
Median Salary (2019)* $91,160 (for all statisticians)
Job Outlook (2018-2028)* 31% (for all statisticians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Statistical programmers generally need to hold a master's degree, although some positions, particularly entry-level and those with the federal government, may only require a bachelor's degree. A degree in mathematics, computer science, or statistics is best for general statistical programmers, but more specific niches may also benefit from degrees in other statistics-related fields, such as economics. Coursework in other fields which frequently utilize statistical programmers, like biology or engineering, can also be beneficial, providing a greater understanding of the data that might be analyzed.

Required Skills

Like any other kind of programmer, a statistical programmer should be highly proficient with using computers and programming languages, as well as general types of software such as spreadsheets and word processors. Because of the level of precision and accuracy needed in data analysis, individuals with detail-oriented minds tend to excel in this career, as this level of attention helps to catch potential errors. Statistical programmers may also need to report to managers and supervisors regarding the data analysis, and so must also be skilled at communicating these complex ideas in simple, easy to understand ways. Most importantly, statistical programmers need a thorough understanding of advanced topics in math and statistics, such as calculus, algebra, and probability.

Career Outlook and Salary

As of May 2019, the median annual salary for all statisticians, including statistical programmers, was $91,160, according to the BLS. Employment of statisticians over the ten year period from 2018 to 2028 was predicted to grow by 31%, far greater than the 5% national average. This rapid growth is largely attributed to the wealth of new data that can be gathered from the internet for analysis, and its increasing usefulness in areas of business. Earning certifications with languages or programs such as SAS can help to boost job prospects.

Related Careers

There are a number of other careers related to statistics and programming, as well as similar careers which go by different names in different fields. If statistical programming sounds interesting, it may be worth checking out some of these comparable careers.

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