About 41 percent of statisticians work for Federal, State,
and local governments; other employers include scientific research
and development services and finance and insurance firms.
A masterís degree in statistics or mathematics is the minimum
educational requirement for most jobs as a statistician.
Employment of statisticians is projected to grow more slowly
than average because many jobs that require a degree in statistics
will not carry the title ďstatistician.Ē
Individuals with a degree in statistics should have favorable
job opportunities in a variety of disciplines.
Nature of the Work
Statistics is the scientific application of mathematical principles
to the collection, analysis, and presentation of numerical data.
Statisticians contribute to scientific inquiry by applying their
mathematical and statistical knowledge to the design of surveys
and experiments; the collection, processing, and analysis of data;
and the interpretation of the results. Statisticians may apply
their knowledge of statistical methods to a variety of subject
areas, such as biology, economics, engineering, medicine, public
health, psychology, marketing, education, and sports. Many economic,
social, political, and military decisions cannot be made without
statistical techniques, such as the design of experiments to gain
Federal approval of a newly manufactured drug.
One technique that is especially useful to statisticians is samplingóobtaining
information about a population of people or group of things by
surveying a small portion of the total. For example, to determine
the size of the audience for particular programs, television-rating
services survey only a few thousand families, rather than all
viewers. Statisticians decide where and how to gather the data,
determine the type and size of the sample group, and develop the
survey questionnaire or reporting form. They also prepare instructions
for workers who will collect and tabulate the data. Finally, statisticians
analyze, interpret, and summarize the data using computer software.
In business and industry, statisticians play an important role
in quality control and in product development and improvement.
In an automobile company, for example, statisticians might design
experiments to determine the failure time of engines exposed to
extreme w eather conditions by running individual engines until
failure and breakdown. Working for a pharmaceutical company, statisticians
might develop and evaluate the results of clinical trials to determine
the safety and effectiveness of new medications. And, at a computer
software firm, statisticians might help construct new statistical
software packages to analyze data more accurately and efficiently.
In addition to product development and testing, some statisticians
also are involved in deciding what products to manufacture, how
much to charge for them, and to whom the products should be marketed.
Statisticians also may manage assets and liabilities, determining
the risks and returns of certain investments.
Statisticians also are employed by nearly every government agency.
Some government statisticians develop surveys that measure population
growth, consumer prices, or unemployment. Other statisticians
work for scientific, environmental, and agricultural agencies
and may help determine the level of pesticides in drinking water,
the number of endangered species living in a particular area,
or the number of people afflicted with a particular disease. Statisticians
also are employed in national defense agencies, determining the
accuracy of new weapons and the likely effectiveness of defense
Because statistical specialists are employed in so many work
areas, specialists who use statistics often have different professional
designations. For example, a person using statistical methods
to analyze economic data may have the title econometrician, while
statisticians in public health and medicine may hold titles such
as biostatistician, biometrician, or epidemiologist.
Statisticians usually work regular hours in comfortable offices.
Some statisticians travel to provide advice on research projects,
supervise and set up surveys, or gather statistical data. While
advanced communications devices such as e-mail and teleconferencing
are making it easier for statisticians to work with clients in
different areas, there still are situations that require the statistician
to be present, such as during meetings or while gathering data.
Some in this occupation may have duties that vary widely, such
as designing experiments or performing fieldwork in various communities.
Statisticians who work in academia generally have a mix of teaching
and research responsibilities.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Although employment opportunities exist for individuals with
a bachelorís degree, a masterís degree in statistics or mathematics
is usually the minimum educational requirement for most statistician
jobs. Research and academic positions in institutions of higher
education, for example, require at least a masterís degree, and
usually a Ph.D., in statistics. Beginning positions in industrial
research often require a masterís degree combined with several
years of experience.
The training required for employment as an entry-level statistician
in the Federal Government, however, is a bachelorís degree, including
at least 15 semester hours of statistics or a combination of 15
hours of mathematics and statistics, if at least 6 semester hours
are in statistics. Qualifying as a mathematical statistician in
the Federal Government requires 24 semester hours of mathematics
and statistics, with a minimum of 6 semester hours in statistics
and 12 semester hours in an area of advanced mathematics, such
as calculus, differential equations, or vector analysis.
In 2004, approximately 230 universities offered a degree program
in statistics, biostatistics, or mathematics. Many other schools
also offered graduate-level courses in applied statistics for
students majoring in biology, business, economics, education,
engineering, psychology, and other fields. Acceptance into graduate
statistics programs does not require an undergraduate degree in
statistics, although good training in mathematics is essential.
Many schools also offered degrees in mathematics, operations
research, and other fields that include a sufficient number of
courses in statistics to qualify graduates for some entry-level
positions with the Federal Government. Required subjects for statistics
majors include differential and integral calculus, statistical
methods, mathematical modeling, and probability theory. Additional
courses that undergraduates should take include linear algebra,
design and analysis of experiments, applied multivariate analysis,
and mathematical statistics.
Because computers are used extensively for statistical applications,
a strong background in computer science is highly recommended.
For positions involving quality and productivity improvement,
training in engineering or physical science is useful. A background
in biological, chemical, or health science is important for positions
involving the preparation and testing of pharmaceutical or agricultural
products. Courses in economics and business administration are
helpful for many jobs in market research, business analysis, and
Good communications skills are important for prospective statisticians
in industry, who often need to explain technical matters to persons
without statistical expertise. An understanding of business and
the economy also is valuable for those who plan to work in private
Beginning statisticians generally are supervised by an experienced
statistician. With experience, they may advance to positions with
more technical responsibility and, in some cases, supervisory
duties. However, opportunities for promotion are greater for persons
with advanced degrees. Masterís and Ph.D. degree holders usually
enjoy independence in their work and may become qualified to engage
in research; develop statistical methods; or, after a number of
years of experience in a particular area, become statistical consultants.
Statisticians held about 19,000 jobs in 2004. Twenty percent
of these jobs were in the Federal Government, where statisticians
were concentrated in the Departments of Commerce, Agriculture,
and Health and Human Services. Another 20 percent were found in
State and local governments, including State colleges and universities.
Most of the remaining jobs were in private industry, especially
in scientific research and development services, insurance carriers,
and pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing. In addition, many
professionals with a background in statistics were among the 53,000
postsecondary mathematical science teachers.
Employment of statisticians is projected to grow more slowly
than average for all occupations over the 2004-14 period, because
many jobs that require a degree in statistics will not carry the
title ďstatistician.Ē However, job opportunities should remain
favorable for individuals with a degree in statistics. For example,
many jobs involve the analysis and interpretation of data from
economics, biological science, psychology, computer software engineering,
and other disciplines. Despite the limited number of jobs resulting
from growth, a number of openings will become available as statisticians
transfer to other occupations or retire or leave the workforce
for other reasons.
The use of statistics is widespread and growing. Among graduates
with a masterís degree in statistics, those with a strong background
in an allied field, such as finance, biology, engineering, or
computer science, should have the best prospects of finding jobs
related to their field of study. Federal agencies will hire statisticians
in many fields, including demography, agriculture, consumer and
producer surveys, Social Security, health care, and environmental
quality. Because the Federal Government is one of the few employers
that considers a bachelorís degree an adequate entry-level qualification,
competition for entry-level positions in the Federal Government
is expected to be strong for persons just meeting the minimum
qualifications for statisticians. Those who meet State certification
requirements may become high school statistics teachers. (For
additional information, see the statement on teachersópreschool,
kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary elsewhere in the
Manufacturing firms will hire statisticians with masterís and
doctoral degrees for quality control of various products, including
pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles, aircraft, chemicals, and food.
For example, pharmaceutical firms will employ statisticians to
assess the effectiveness and safety of new drugs, to decide whether
to market them, and to make sure they comply with federal standards.
To address global product competition, motor vehicle manufacturers
will need statisticians to improve the quality of automobiles,
trucks, and their components by developing and testing new designs.
Statisticians with knowledge of engineering and the physical sciences
will find jobs in research and development, working with teams
of scientists and engineers to help improve design and production
processes to ensure consistent quality of newly developed products.
Many statisticians also will find opportunities developing statistical
software for computer software manufacturing firms.
Firms will rely heavily on workers with a background in statistics
to forecast sales, analyze business conditions, and help to solve
management problems to maximize profits. In addition, consulting
firms increasingly will offer sophisticated statistical services
to other businesses. Because of the widespread use of computers
in this field and the growing number of widely used software packages,
statisticians in all industries should have good computer programming
skills and knowledge of statistical software.
Median annual earnings of statisticians were $58,620 in May 2004.
The middle 50 percent earned between $42,770 and $80,690. The
lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,870, while the highest
10 percent earned more than $100,500.
The average annual salary for statisticians in the Federal Government
in nonsupervisory, supervisory, and managerial positions was $81,262
in 2005, while mathematical statisticians averaged $91,446. According
to a 2005 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers,
starting salary offers for mathematics/statistics graduates with
a bachelorís degree averaged $43,448 a year.
People in a wide range of occupations work with statistics. Among
these are actuaries, mathematicians, operations research analysts,
computer scientists and database administrators, computer systems
analysts, computer programmers, computer software engineers, engineers,
economists, market and survey researchers, and financial analysts
and personal financial advisors. Some statisticians also work
as secondary or postsecondary teachers.
Sources of Additional Information
For information about career opportunities in statistics, contact:
For more information on doctoral-level careers and training in
mathematics, a field closely related to statistics, contact:
American Mathematical Society, 201 Charles St., Providence,
RI 02904-2213. Internet: http://www.ams.org/
Information on obtaining positions as statisticians with the
Federal Government is available from the Office of Personnel Management
through USAJOBS, the Federal Governmentís official employment
information system. This resource for locating and applying for
job opportunities can be accessed through the Internet at http://www.usajobs.opm.gov/ or through an interactive
voice response telephone system at (703) 724-1850 or TDD (978)
461-8404. These numbers are not tollfree, and charges may result.
Source: Bureau of Labor
Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational
Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition,