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Statistician


Description

Is sushi, organic free-range chicken or fruit smoothies the hottest food trend? Just ask a statistician. They study everything from the latest trends to population growth. Statisticians collect, analyze, interpret, and then present numerical information to assist in decision-making. They conduct research into the mathematical basis of the science of statistics, develop statistical methodology and advise on the practical applications of such methodologies.

Statisticians research statistical theories and develop and apply statistical techniques to solve problems in various fields such as economics, health or the environment. Many statisticians work for the government and may provide usable information for activities such as conducting agricultural research, evaluating programs, analyzing social problems, developing quality control tests, predicting population growth or forecasting economic conditions.

Statisticians in business and industry are employed by companies and corporations to work in market research, human resource forecasting, inventory control, cost analysis, quality control and insurance underwriting. For example, they could design and interpret customer satisfaction surveys.

Most work in the government planning, technological research, policy analysis, operational research, urban planning, wildlife management, energy and resource management, labor and economic forecasting, and social research. For example, statisticians use census data in their work but may also use statistical inference from appropriate samples when the cost of a complete survey is too high.

Most statisticians use computer systems to assist in data collection, management and retrieval, statistical analysis, and the presentation of results. In some cases, statisticians adapt and develop computer programs to perform particular analyses.

Most industries, organizations and related fields use statistics in some way. Statisticians do not only look at drab issues. For instance, a sports organization uses statistics to track wins, losses and individual milestones. Statisticians expertly analyze results of research and will report on such events. They transform this statistical raw data into understandable and clear conclusions.

Statisticians may also develop new ways of analyzing numbers. For example, they may need to know how many people drive to work versus taking public transportation. They usually choose a sample of people from whom they can draw conclusions and collect data. After they interpret the results and the survey proves effective, they may learn and teach something new about what kind of transportation methods people are using on their commute to work.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$30,380
 
Median Salary:
$57,080
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$91,680

  Interests and Skills  
Besides having an aptitude for and an interest in mathematics, statisticians should have an interest in the application of scientific principles to the solution of practical problems, and the ability to think logically, organize projects and carry them out. They like using computers to handle, massage and analyze data, and therefore have the ability to work both alone and with others to complete projects.

They can pay careful attention to details, and when research is finished, can write clear, concise reports in language appropriate for intended readers. It is no easy task making mathematical and statistical sounding jargon sound like clear, concise English. Statisticians should enjoy synthesizing data, applying statistical theories and methods, and advising others regarding statistical methodology.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Apply statistical theories and methods to solve problems
  • Develop statistical methodology
  • Design research projects
  • Research the mathematical basis of statistics
  • Design and conduct statistical surveys
  • Determine the most efficient methods of collecting and organizing numerical data
  • Supervise those directly engaged in collecting data
  • Analyze, summarize, make inferences and interpret the information collected
  • Write reports and present findings in the form of tables and graphs
  • Statisticians work in an office environment, usually on the computer. In general, they work normal office hours, but may have to work longer hours to meet project deadlines. They may often be found working on several different projects at the same time. Sometimes teamwork is required, but statisticians often work alone.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Statisticians work for a variety of employers, including government departments, financial institutions, medical and educational research agencies, science and engineering consulting firms, manufacturers and other companies requiring industrial quality control, large scale manufacturing plants that require sophisticated maintenance programs, and universities, teaching and conducting research studies.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Experienced statisticians who have graduate degrees may move into management positions or private consulting work. The consulting work may range from working for a pharmaceutical company to a government agency. Statisticians may also decide to move into the financial district for employment and train as a financial advisor. Those with the proper graduate level education can become instructors at universities and lead research projects.
 

  Educational Paths  
The minimum academic requirement to become a statistician is a bachelor's degree in statistics or mathematics. However, most statisticians have a graduate degree ( master's or PhD), which is usually required for higher level positions. In fact, a PhD is generally required to conduct independent research and teach in universities.

When in high school, future statisticians should bulk up on all mathematics classes, including calculus, mathematical modeling and probability theory. Experience and knowledge in computer science is strongly recommended. Furthermore, a background in biological, chemical or health science is important for positions involving pharmaceutical or agricultural products.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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