How to Become a Statistician

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Coworkers review and discuss their statistician’s data.

Professionals interested in becoming a statistician will need to learn how to use mathematical techniques to collect, analyze and interpret data. Pursuing an advanced degree, such as the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA), can help you develop the skills you’ll need to have a successful career.

What Is a Statistician?

Statisticians are important and valued in the marketplace because they help businesses draw reliable conclusions from their data. For example, a business may ask a statistician to estimate the probability of a defective product on an assembly line. Once the probability is determined, the business can use that information to make informed decisions about production. To be successful, statisticians need to understand which datasets are valuable and which conclusions are trustworthy. They also need to understand how to apply statistical and mathematical techniques to the data they want to analyze.

Different Types of Statisticians

Aspiring statisticians can choose from hundreds of different professions. Sample jobs, according to the American Statistical Association (ASA), include data journalists who use statistics and patterns in data to tell a story. Another example might include as statistician determining whether humanitarian efforts are working. For example, one current project involves using statistical analysis to determine whether women in sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing fewer instances of sexual abuse after a humanitarian program was implemented. Another example is a mathematical statistician working with a professional sports team to record, organize and analyze the game data needed to maximize the team’s performance.

Industries That Statisticians Work In

Statisticians work in various industries, including computer science, education, government, healthcare, marketing and psychology. They also work with companies that provide medical clinical trials, political analysis and telecommunications services. Professionals interested in how to become a statistician should know that they’ll be able to apply their skills in almost any science, technology or business field.

Job Duties and Work Environment 

Statisticians help businesses use statistical and mathematical techniques to analyze data and solve problems. They determine which data is needed to answer a question or solve a problem and may design experiments, surveys or opinion polls to collect what they need. For example, in an election cycle, candidates rely on statisticians to determine which voter populations to target and how to optimize campaign spending. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that most statisticians work in offices, and they often work alongside engineers, scientists and other professionals. Other statisticians may need to travel to meet their clients or attend conferences and seminars.

How to Become a Statistician

According to The World of Statistics, “You will need mathematics to understand the language and theory of statistics. Scientific knowledge will help you understand the subject matter and technical background of the problems you work on, as well as make you an effective problem solver.” Aspiring statisticians will need to meet minimum education requirements, gain relevant experience and obtain professional certification.

Education Requirements

Aspiring statisticians will need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics, statistics or a closely related field. Furthermore, earning a master’s degree, such as the University of Maryland’s online Master of Science in Business Analytics, is recommended for those interested in pursuing higher-level positions.

Experience Requirements

Professionals interested in becoming a statistician are encouraged to participate in internship or fellowship programs while still in school to bolster their chances while job searching. Internships and fellowships can help students gain invaluable, hands-on experience in the field by applying what they learn in their graduate program to real-world scenarios.

Certification Requirements

Although statisticians aren’t required to hold professional certifications, passing a professional certification exam helps demonstrate knowledge and acumen within the field. The ASA offers two certifications: the Accredited Professional Statistician (PStat) and the Graduate Statistician (GStat). Statisticians who complete a graduate degree can take the GStat. PStat accreditation, on the other hand, requires that applicants submit work samples and letters of recommendation.

Valuable Skills and Traits for Statisticians

Aspiring statisticians will need to develop numerous skills and traits to be successful — mathematics, analytical thinking, communication skills and technological proficiency, among others.

Mathematics Skills

Statisticians need to use mathematical modeling to analyze, collect and present numerical data to their employers. Consequently, those interested in pursuing this career path will need to have a strong foundation in calculus, statistics and linear algebra.

Analytical Thinking

Statisticians need to be effective at problem-solving. Fine-tuned analytical thinking skills will help them process and evaluate data, find patterns, and develop solutions to problems that face both private and public organizations.

Communication Skills

Statisticians often work alongside nontechnical staff. As such, they need to be proficient communicators, as this will enable them to explain complex statistical information clearly, simply and concisely. Whether in writing, over the phone or in person, statisticians should be equipped to explain both their processes and their end results.

Technological Proficiency

Statisticians need to understand how to use computers to perform calculations and create visual displays of data. A 2018 TechRepublic article reported that many of today’s job postings in data science fields, including those for statisticians, seek candidates who have experience with programming languages like Python.

Job Growth, Salary and Career Advancement Opportunities for Statisticians

The BLS projects that employment of statisticians will grow by 34 percent between 2016 and 2026, as businesses will start to use more widespread statistical analysis to drive policy decisions. The BLS also reports that as of 2018, statisticians earned a median annual income of $87,780.

Job opportunities will be most favorable to those with strong quantitative and data analysis skills. As such, experienced statisticians who possess an advanced education, such as an MSBA, are likely to enjoy many career advancement opportunities.

Learn How an Online MSBA from the University of Maryland Can Help You Become a Statistician

The path toward becoming a statistician starts with education. The online MS in Business Analytics at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business has been designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in this field. Discover how Smith’s online MSBA program can help you toward your goal of becoming a statistician.


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American Association of Statistics, What Kind of Statistician Could You Be?

American Statistical Association, Mike Baiocchi: Stats for Better World Health

Houston Chronicle, “Mathematical Statistician Job Description”

LinkedIn, “Why Statistics Is Important”

Techopedia, Data Journalism

TechRepublic, “Why Python Is the Real Programing Language of Data Science, Not R”

The World of Statistics, How to Become a Statistician

The World of Statistics, What Fields Employ Statisticians?

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mathematicians and Statisticians