How to Become a Statistician
Statisticians help solve a variety of problems in different industries using a range of statistical techniques. These professionals need excellent math, analytical, and problem-solving skills. In order to become a statistician, students will need to earn a postsecondary education in statistics or mathematics and may pursue optional certification. Learn more about each step to becoming a statistician below.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Statistician education should begin with a bachelor's degree in statistics or mathematics. Although most statisticians need an advanced degree, there are some entry-level positions in the field for those with a bachelor's degree. At the bachelor's level, students typically can pursue a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Statistics.
Some bachelor's degree programs in statistics may allow students to begin specializing in the statistics for a particular field, such as statistical computing and data science or statistics in business, industry, government, and research. Students in statistics degree programs may take courses in subjects like:
- Linear algebra
- Theoretical statistics
- Multivariate analysis
- Experimental design
- Statistical Methods
Step 2: Earn a Master's Degree
Statistician education requirements usually include a master's degree, but, as mentioned, some positions may only require a bachelor's degree or may require a doctorate. Students can pursue a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Science (MS) in Statistics, and typically the MS is used in preparation for a doctorate degree in the field.
Master's degree programs in statistics usually do not require a thesis, but may have a comprehensive exam in its place. Some of these programs may be available in accelerated formats and completed in as little as 9 months, although this is less common. It is more common for students to complete these programs in 12 to 18 months.
Although students pursuing a bachelor's or master's degree in statistics take a lot of different courses in statistics and mathematics, they may also be encouraged to complete courses in other quantitative fields to prepare for careers in different industries. For example, students may also take courses in engineering, computer science, or a physical science.
Step 3: Obtain Statistician Certification
Statisticians are usually not required to obtain professional certification. However, organizations, like the American Statistical Association (ASA), may offer professional accreditation that could help statisticians be more competitive. The ASA offers an entry-level accreditation called the GStat, or Graduate Statistician, followed by a PStat, or Accredited Professional Statistician credential.
These accreditations do not call for a statistician exam, but instead require candidates to send contact information, a CV, cover letter, and prior education. In addition, the PStat requires candidates to submit evidence of a minimum of 5 years work experience, professional development participation, a list of references, and an application fee.
Step 4: Advance with a PhD
As we discussed above, statisticians do not usually need a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in the field. However, a doctorate can help students advance to higher research positions and/or become postsecondary teachers or even serve as online professors in the field.
Typically, PhD in Statistics programs take 4 to 5 years to complete and require a final thesis/dissertation. Many students at this level also specialize in a particular area of emphasis, such as computational science and engineering or computational and genomic biology.
Statistician Career Overview
Statisticians usually work full-time in an office setting and may complete individual or team-based work. As of 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that statisticians made an average annual salary of $92,600. The same year, most statisticians worked for scientific research and development services and made an average salary of $100,660. The BLS also reported a job outlook of 34%, which is much faster than average, from 2016 to 2026 for statisticians.