Statisticians are employed in many different industries to collect and analyze data that can aid in economic, social, political, and military decision-making. They create surveys, polls, and experiments to gather data, then use mathematical techniques to analyze and draw conclusions from the results. Surveys may cover the broadest sampling of a population as possible or a select number of people in a particular group. Some of the general job responsibilities of a statistician include:
- Determining what kind of data needs to be collected and how best to collect it
- Designing and implementing surveys, polls, and experiments to gather data
- Analyzing data
- Reporting conclusions resulting from data analysis
The BLS reports that employment of statisticians is expected to grow 14% from 2010 to 2020. The demand for high-quality data by government agencies will help stimulate this job growth. Ongoing research and development by the pharmaceutical industry as well as in the physical, engineering, and life sciences will create more employment opportunities for statisticians. The BLS also indicates that statisticians with a master's degree and a background in the fields of finance, biology, engineering, or computer science will enjoy better prospects for employment.
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Becoming a Statistician
Many schools offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in statistics, but statisticians typically hold a master's degree in statistics, mathematics, or another related subject. To be eligible for a graduate program in statistics, candidates will need a strong background in mathematics. Research and academic statistician positions require a Ph.D.
Many schools offer master's degree programs in statistics entirely online. A sampling of classes you may take in a statistics program, drawn from course listings for Penn State's online master of applied statistics program, include the following:
- Introduction to Mathematical Statistics
- Analysis of Variance and Design of Experiments
- Analysis of Discrete Data
- Sampling Theory and Methods
Since statisticians are employed in a variety of industries, additional coursework in and experience with subjects such as computer science or engineering or biology can help with career opportunities and advancement. A background in computer science will help statisticians who use and write computer programs. For work in the pharmaceutical or agricultural industry, statisticians with a background in biology, chemistry, or health science can be useful.