CAREER DEVELOPMENT / OCT. 28, 2014
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How to Become a Statistician in the US

If you have a natural aptitude for mathematics and like to crunch numbers, then becoming a statistician could be a wonderful opportunity for you. Statisticians use their understanding of mathematical concepts and numerical analysis to examine data from a representative sample and obtain scientifically proven conclusions that can then be used towards a generalized understanding of the larger population. Statistical analysis is necessary in virtually all sectors and is an indispensable component of research projects. Therefore, statisticians always have job opportunities.

What Does a Statistician Do?

Statisticians collect information, analyze it using scientific methods and draw conclusions that are then used in informing decision-making. Their specific duties are:

  • They decide on and design the data collection methods that will be used on each project
  • They collect data using qualitative methods such as census, surveys, interviews, discussion forums, interviews and experiments.
  • Using this representative data they apply quantitative methods such as sampling, generation of theories and models to study and interpret the data and then present it in the form of pie charts, percentages, and other numerical and visual forms that make for easy comparison. Presentations are ordinarily accompanied by brief explanations on the findings.
  • As they analyze the data, statisticians look for distinct patterns and tendencies that enable them to develop new mathematical concepts, theories and models to explain the phenomena that they observe.
  • Issue recommendations for action depending on the market trends, births and death rates, population census, traffic and usage data, medical findings, labor turnover or any other issue which they were commissioned to analyze.

Qualifications

  • To be eligible for a job as a statistician you will need to obtain a degree wherein you take courses such as applied mathematics, economics and calculus which prepare you for your future job.
  • A Masters degree in statistics then increases your chances of landing a good job.
  • Unlike other professions, you do not require extra-curricular competencies or certifications. However, experience in the field will give you a competitive advantage when applying for a job.
  • High intellect, computer literacy, mathematical aptitude, ability to spot patterns and visualize the interconnection between different kinds of data is crucial in this profession.
  • You should also be able to present complex information in a simple manner for the benefit of your audience who are not trained in statistics.
  • The ability to conduct in-depth research, apply logical reasoning and exercise astute judgment are also pre-requisites for this job.
  • You will also need planning, organizational and problem-solving skills. Statistical projects are usually time-bound as the results are only relevant for a short window of time, so you will need to cultivate time management skills and the ability to work under strict deadlines.

Salary

Entry level is not that high but it increases as you obtain higher qualifications, gain more experience and build a reputation as an insightful and competent statistician. In addition, statisticians working in federal government tend to earn significantly more than those working in other sectors

Entry level

$42,220

Mid career

$75,560

Successful

$121,890

Source: http://www.bls.gov

Work Environment

Statisticians spend almost all their time on their computers compiling and analyzing data, studying theories and determining their application to the data before them as well generating visual results. As result, there is a considerable level of eye and wrist strain that they suffer after some time on the job. The job is mostly performed independently but there are phases when you work within a team.

Career Prospects

The job outlook and career prospects are bright because of the rapid advances in technology and the consequential changes in methods and practices. Businesses are constantly developing strategies to improve on their efficiency, performance and sustainability. Statisticians deliver the data that informs their decision-making. Therefore, they can get employed in health, political, industrial, marketing, technology and virtually any industry.

However, the nature of the job calls for people who have a natural aptitude as the skills required for the job are hard to learn. Furthermore, although the job is challenging, if you don’t have a natural interest in constantly analyzing information the job can seem repetitive and quickly become monotonous. As such this career is certainly not for everyone.

 

Image: iStock

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