Statisticians Overview

Most jobs require at least a masters degree in statistics or mathematics. Those with a degree in statistics are likely to have job prospects in a variety of fields. Close to 30 percent of statisticians work for local, State and Federal governments, insurance carriers, private-industry employers and medicine and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Nature of the Work for Statisticians


Statisticians use the scientific application of mathematical principals to collect, analyze and present numerical data. They apply this knowledge to the layout of experiments and surveys; the interpretation of experiments and survey results; and the collection, processing, and analysis of data.

Statisticians may work with a variety of subject matters such as economics, biology, engineering, public health, medicine, marketing, psychology, sports and education. It plays an important role within government as many social, economic, military and political decisions can not be made without statistical techniques.

Statisticians are responsible for deciding how and where to gather data, develop the survey questionnaire or reporting form and determine the type and size of the sample group. Statisticians often use sampling, or obtaining information on a population of people or group of things. It is common for them to create instructions for workers to obtain and tabulate the data. With the use of computer software, statisticians analyze, interpret and summarize data.

Statisticians play a vital role in business and industry, particularly in quality control and product development and improvement. For example, in a pharmaceutical company, statisticians might create and evaluate the results of clinical trials to understand the safety and effectiveness of new medication. Some statisticians are responsible for decideing what products to manufacture, the correct amount to charge for them and whom the products should be marketed towards. Statisticians may also determine the risks and returns of investments by managing assets and liabilities.

Government agencies employ statisticians for a variety of reasons. A government statistician may develop surveys that measure population growth, unemployment or consumer prices. Others may be employed at environment, scientific and agricultural agencies to help determine the average level of pesticides in drinking water, the number of people afflicted with a certain disease, or the number of endangered species living in a particular area.

Statisticians usually work a regular 40-hour work week in an office setting. In order to meet strict deadlines, some might work longer hours.

Most communication with clients can be completed through email or teleconferencing, however some situations require that they be physically present, such as meetings or while gathering data. Travel may also be required to supervise and set up surveys, gather statistical data and provide advice on research projects.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Statisticians

A masters degree in statistics or a masters degree in mathematics is usually the minimum degree requirement, while research and academic positions generally require a Ph.D. in statistics. Entry level positions in industrial research may only require a masters degree coupled with several years of experience.

Federal government statistician jobs require at least a bachelors degree, including at least 15 semester hours of statistics, or a combination of mathematics and statistics with at least 6 semester hours in statistics. To be considered for a mathematical statistician in the Federal Government, 24 hours of mathematics and statistics, with a minimum of 6 semester hours in statistics and 12 semester hours in the subject of advanced mathematics, including differential equations, calculus, or vector analysis.

Degree programs in statistics, mathematics or biostatistics are offered at major colleges and universities. Other schools might offer graduate level courses for majors in business, economics, biology, education, psychology, engineering and other fields. Good training for mathematics is essential when applying to graduate school for statistics, however a bachelors degree in statistics is not required. Many school offer degree programs that are designed to prepare students with the proper amount of credits needed to obtain an entry-level job within the Federal Government. Mandatory courses for statistics majors include statistical methods, mathematic modeling, probability theory and differential and integral calculus. Other recommended courses include design and analysis of experiments, mathematical statistics, linear algebra and applied multivariate analysis.

A solid background in computer science is highly encouraged, as computers are used extensively in statistical applications. Training in physical science or engineering is useful for positions that involve quality and improvement in productivity. For positions involving the preparation of testing of agricultural or pharmaceutical products, a background in chemical, biological or health science is important. For jobs many jobs in market research, forecasting and business analysis, courses in business administration and economics are valuable.

For those who pursue a job in private industry, good communication skills are needed because explaining technical matters to persons without statistical expertise is an important part of the position. Also, knowledge of the economy and business is encouraged for those who plan to work in private industry.? Entry-level statisticians usually shadow an experienced statistician. After they have gained enough experience, they may advance to positions with a greater amount of technical responsibility and sometimes supervisory duties. People with advanced degrees have a greater chance at a promotion. Those employees with a masters and a Ph.D. may develop statistical methods, engage in research or become statistical consultants.

Top 10 Most Popular Statistics Schools

1. Columbia University in the City of New York (New York, New York)
2. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (New Brunswick, New Jersey)
3. Stanford University (Stanford, California)
4. North Carolina State University at Raleigh (Raleigh, North Carolina)
5. Ohio State University, Columbus (Columbus, Ohio)
6. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
7. Purdue University, Main Campus (West Lafayette, Indiana)
8. California State University, East Bay (Hayward, California)
9. University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, California)
10. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

See All Statistics Schools

Online School: Kansas State University - Online School

Employment and Job Outlook for Statisticians

Number of People in Profession


Changing Employment (2008-2018)

Employment is projected to grow about as fast as average (increase 7 - 13%).

Statisticians hold about 22,600 jobs. Close to 20 percent of these jobs are in the Federal Government, concentrated in the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Health and Human Services, while 10 percent are found in local and State governments. The majority of the remaining jobs are in private industry, such as development research and scientific research, pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing and insurance carriers.

Employment of statisticians is expected to grow 13 percent, or about as fast as average for all occupations. Although the job title may vary, there is a demand for individuals with a background in statistics.

The use of statistics is growing in the business world. Both private industry and government use statistical models to aid in decision making. A demand for statisticians is projected to occur due to technological advances. Fast computer processing allows statisticians to perform their work much more quickly, as well as gather and sort through large amounts of data that may not have been possible in the past. An increasing number of employers will want statisticians to take advantage of the new information available as data processing becomes less expensive and more efficient.

Biostatisticians should expect employment growth due to the expanding pharmaceutical business. Biostatisticians will be needed to conduct research and experiments on each new technology and treatment is developed.

Those with a degree in statistics should expect opportunities in a large amount of fields, such as biological science, computer software engineering, education, psychology and other disciplined. Other job openings will be created from employees who retire, transfer to other occupations or leave the workforce for other reasons.

Those with a masters degree in an allied field, such as finance, biology, computer science, engineering should have the best job opportunities.

Earnings and Salary for Statisticians

The median annual wage-and-salary wages of statisticians is $72,820. The highest 10 percent earns more than $117,210, while the lowest 10 percent earns less than $38,430. The middle 50 percent earns between $50,590 and $95,740. The average annual salary for statisticians working in the Federal Government is $92,322, while mathematical statisticians averaged $107,015.

Annual Salary for Statisticians

On average, Statisticians earn $72,820 per year.

10% 25% 75% 90% $38,430/yr $50,590/yr $95,740/yr $117,210/yr

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook