Statisticians have always played an important role in research and academia. However, there has recently been a boom in demand for statisticians in business due to the expansion of data generation and gathering across industries and businesses’ understanding of the value of data-driven decision-making.
It’s not unexpected that a growing number of professionals are considering careers as statisticians, given the increased demand.
Unfortunately, the term “statistician” is a misnomer, and many people are unaware of what these professionals do. We look at what a statistician does, the education and skills required to thrive in the field, and other options for persons interested in working with numbers.
At their most basic level, statisticians are professionals who solve real-world issues using statistical approaches and models. They gather, analyze, and evaluate data to aid in the making of various business choices. Statisticians are in high demand across a wide range of industries, with the most popular employment being in business, health and medicine, government, physical sciences, and environmental sciences.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which unites statisticians and mathematicians, the industry’s job prospects are excellent. Mathematicians and statisticians are expected to grow at a 30% annual pace between 2018 and 2028, approximately five times faster than all other occupations.
Businesses will collect an increasing amount of data from a growing number of sources, accounting for a major share of the expected increase. To review and interpret this data, businesses and organizations will need to hire more people who are specifically trained in data analysis and interpretation.
The responsibilities that statisticians are expected to fulfill on a daily basis vary based on the industry and organization in which they work.
In the private sector, statisticians assess data to inform organizational and commercial objectives, such as evaluating changes in customer behavior and purchase trends. However, studies in the public sector are usually focused on furthering the public good, such as collecting and analyzing environmental, demographic, or health data.
Whether a statistician works for the government or the private sector, they are likely to have the following daily responsibilities:
• Gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data
• Identifying trends and connections in data
• Developing data collection methodologies
• Communicating findings to stakeholders
• Advising on organizational and corporate strategy
To be effective, statisticians must have a unique blend of technical, analytical, and leadership skills. Here are a few examples:
• Analytical skills: Statisticians must first and foremost be experts in statistical analysis. They must have an uncanny ability to spot patterns and anomalies in data.
• Technical skills: Statisticians must acquire and change data that informs their judgments using computer systems, algorithms, and other technologies, therefore technical proficiency is required.
• Communication skills: While statisticians are math and statistics experts, they must also be able to successfully communicate the conclusions of their analysis to others in their organization. This includes the capacity to communicate verbally and in writing, as well as the ability to present information in a visually appealing manner.
• Leadership skills: Effective statisticians must be able to think critically about the data they’re evaluating through the eyes of key stakeholders and executives. Learning to think like a leader can help statisticians spot trends and data items that have a big influence on their businesses.
Many entry-level statistician positions require a master’s degree, usually in statistics or mathematics.
Persons with skills in both statistical analysis and another academic area—for example, economics and econometrics, computer and material science, or biology—can have a major competitive advantage while seeking employment in a specialized business.
Students are encouraged to pursue computer science coursework as well, as it has a wide range of applications in the workplace. A Ph.D. is often required for those interested in pursuing a career in research or academia.