Statisticians

Summary

statisticians image
Statisticians collect and analyze data to help solve real-world problems in many different industries.
Quick Facts: Statisticians
2012 Median Pay $75,560 per year
$36.33 per hour
Entry-Level Education Master’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 27,600
Job Outlook, 2012-22 27% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 7,400

What Statisticians Do

Statisticians use statistical methods to collect and analyze data and help solve real-world problems in business, engineering, the sciences, or other fields.

Work Environment

Although statisticians work mostly in offices, they may travel to oversee a survey’s design or implementation or to collect data. About a quarter of statisticians work for government; many others work for private businesses.

How to Become a Statistician

Statisticians typically need a graduate degree in statistics or mathematics. However, there are an increasing number of positions available for those with only a bachelor’s degree.

Pay

The median annual wage for statisticians was $75,560 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of statisticians is projected to grow 27 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected to result from more widespread use of statistical analysis to make informed business, healthcare, and policy decisions.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of statisticians with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about statisticians by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Statisticians Do About this section

Statisticians
Statisticians must develop techniques to overcome problems in data collection and analysis.

Statisticians use statistical methods to collect and analyze data and help solve real-world problems in business, engineering, the sciences, or other fields.

Duties

Statisticians typically do the following:

  • Apply statistical theories and methods to solve practical problems in business, engineering, the sciences, or other fields
  • Decide what data are needed to answer specific questions or problems
  • Determine methods for finding or collecting data
  • Design surveys or experiments or opinion polls to collect data 
  • Collect data or train others to do so
  • Analyze and interpret data
  • Report conclusions from their analyses

Statisticians design surveys, questionnaires, experiments, and opinion polls to collect the data they need. They may also write instructions for other workers on how to collect and arrange the data. Surveys may be mailed, conducted over the phone, collected online, or gathered through some other means.

Some surveys, such as the U.S. census, include data from nearly everyone. For most surveys and opinion polls, however, statisticians use sampling to collect data from some people in a particular group. Statisticians determine the type and size of the sample to be surveyed or polled.

Statisticians use computers with specialized statistical software to analyze data. In their analyses, statisticians identify trends and relationships within the data. They also conduct tests to find out the data’s reliability and validity. Some statisticians may help create new statistical software packages to analyze data more accurately and efficiently.

Statisticians present the findings from their analyses and discuss the data’s limitations to prevent inaccurate conclusions from being drawn. They may present written reports, tables, charts, and graphs to other team members and to clients. Statisticians also recommend how to improve the design of future surveys or experiments.

Statisticians work in many fields, such as education, marketing, psychology, sports, or any other field that requires collection and analysis of data. In particular, government, healthcare, and research and development companies employ many statisticians.

Government. Nearly every agency in the federal government employs statisticians. These workers develop advanced statistical models for several purposes, such as filling in gaps from nonresponses to surveys. Some statisticians hired by the federal government are known as mathematical statisticians.

Some government statisticians develop and analyze surveys that measure unemployment, wages, or other estimates of jobs and workers. Other statisticians help to figure out the average level of pesticides in drinking water, the number of endangered species living in a particular area, or the number of people who have a certain disease. At national defense agencies, statisticians use computer programs to test the likely outcomes of different defense strategies.

HealthcareStatisticians known as biostatisticians or biometricians work in pharmaceutical companies, public health agencies, or hospitals. They may design studies to test whether drugs successfully treat diseases or conditions. They may also work for hospitals or public health agencies to help identify the sources of outbreaks of illnesses in humans and animals.

Research and development. Statisticians design experiments for product testing and development. For instance, they may help design experiments to see how car engines perform when exposed to extreme weather conditions. Statisticians may also help develop marketing strategies and prices for consumer goods. 

Some people with a degree in statistics or who collect and analyze statistical data, however, may not be formally known as statisticians. Instead, they may work in related fields and professions. In some industries, for example, they may be known as quantitative analysts, financial analysts, data analysts, or data scientists.

Work Environment About this section

Statisticians
Statisticians, like many other professionals, do most of their work on a computer in an office setting.

Statisticians held about 27,600 jobs in 2012. About a quarter of statisticians worked for government, mostly at the federal level.

The industries that employed the most statisticians in 2012 were as follows:

Federal government17%
Finance and insurance12
Educational services; state, local, and private11
State and local government, excluding education and hospitals9
Health care and social assistance8

Federal statisticians are commonly employed at the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, or the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Statisticians who work for private businesses often work in teams with other professionals. For example, in pharmaceutical companies, statisticians may work with scientists to test drugs for government approval. In insurance companies, they may work with actuaries to calculate the risks of insuring different events.

Statisticians may travel occasionally to meet with team members, set up surveys and research projects, or oversee the collection of data.

Work Schedules

Statisticians typically work full time.

How to Become a Statistician About this section

Statisticians
Nearly every agency in the federal government employs statisticians.

Statisticians typically need a master's degree in statistics, mathematics, or survey methodology. However, a bachelor's degree is sufficient for some entry-level jobs. Research and academic jobs generally require a Ph.D.

Education

Many colleges and universities offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs in statistics. A bachelor’s degree in statistics is not needed to enter a graduate program. However, significant coursework in statistics or mathematics is essential. Required subjects for a bachelor’s degree in statistics include differential and integral calculus, statistical methods, mathematical modeling, and probability theory.

Many colleges and universities advise or require students to take courses in a related field, such as computer science, engineering, physics, or mathematics. Candidates with experience in a related discipline are particularly desirable to many employers.

For example, training in engineering or physical science is useful for statisticians working in manufacturing on quality or productivity improvement. A background in biology, chemistry, or health sciences is useful for work testing pharmaceutical or agricultural products.

Because statisticians use and write computer programs for many calculations, a strong background in computer science is also helpful.

Advancement

Opportunities for promotion are greater for people with master's degrees or Ph.D.s. Statisticians with a master's degree or a Ph.D. usually can design their own work. They may develop new statistical methods or become independent consultants.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. Statisticians use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

Math skills. Statisticians use statistics, calculus and linear algebra to develop their models and analyses.

Problem-solving skills. Statisticians must develop techniques to overcome problems in data collection and analysis, such as high nonresponse rates, so that they can draw meaningful conclusions.

Speaking skills. Because statisticians often work in teams, they must be able to present statistical information and ideas so that others will understand.

Writing skills. Good writing skills are important for statisticians because they write reports explaining technical matters to persons without their level of statistical expertise.

Pay About this section

Statisticians

Median annual wages, May 2012

Computer and mathematical occupations

$76,270

Statisticians

$75,560

Total, all occupations

$34,750

 

The median annual wage for statisticians was $75,560 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $42,220 and the top 10 percent earned more than $121,890.  

In May 2012, the median annual wages for statisticians in the top five industries in which statisticians worked were as follows:

Federal government$97,250
Finance and insurance69,850
Educational services; state, local, and private66,210
Health care and social assistance63,420
State and local government, excluding
education and hospitals
50,860

Statisticians typically work full time.

Job Outlook About this section

Statisticians

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Statisticians

27%

Computer and mathematical occupations

18%

Total, all occupations

11%

 

Employment of statisticians is projected to grow 27 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected to result from more widespread use of statistical analysis to make informed business, healthcare, and policy decisions. In addition, the large increase in available data from the Internet will open up new areas for analysis. 

A large amount of data is generated from Internet searching and the use of social media, smartphones, and other mobile devices. Businesses will increasingly need statisticians to organize, analyze, and sort through the data for commercial reasons. Analyses will help companies improve their business processes, design and develop new products, and advertise products to potential customers.

Statisticians will increasingly be needed in the pharmaceutical industry. An aging U.S. population will encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop new treatments and medical technologies. Biostatisticians will be needed to conduct the research and clinical trials necessary for companies to obtain approval for their products from the Food and Drug Administration.

Government agencies will also employ more statisticians to improve the quality of the data available for policy analysis. This occupation will also see growth in research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences, where statisticians' skills in designing tests and assessing results are highly useful.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for statisticians are projected to be very good. An increasing number of jobs over the next decade will require high levels of statistical knowledge. Job opportunities are expected to be favorable for those with very strong quantitative and data analysis skills.

Graduates with a master's degree in statistics and a strong background in a related discipline, such as finance, biology, engineering, or computer science, are projected have the best prospects of finding jobs in their field of study.

Employment projections data for statisticians, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Statisticians

15-2041 27,600 34,900 27 7,400 [XLS]

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of statisticians.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2012 MEDIAN PAY Help
Actuaries

Actuaries

Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. They use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to assess the risk that an event will occur and they help businesses and clients develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk. Actuaries’ work is essential to the insurance industry.

Bachelor’s degree $93,680
Computer systems analysts

Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts study an organization’s current computer systems and procedures and design information systems solutions to help the organization operate more efficiently and effectively. They bring business and information technology (IT) together by understanding the needs and limitations of both.

Bachelor’s degree $79,680
Economists

Economists

Economists study the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services by collecting and analyzing data, researching trends, and evaluating economic issues.

Master’s degree $91,860
Financial analysts

Financial Analysts

Financial analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions. They assess the performance of stocks, bonds, and other types of investments.

Bachelor’s degree $76,950
Market research analysts

Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts study market conditions to examine potential sales of a product or service. They help companies understand what products people want, who will buy them, and at what price.

Bachelor’s degree $60,300
Mathematicians

Mathematicians

Mathematicians use advanced mathematics to develop and understand mathematical principles, analyze data, and solve real-world problems.

Master’s degree $101,360
Operations research analysts

Operations Research Analysts

Operations research analysts use advanced mathematical and analytical methods to help organizations investigate complex issues, identify and solve problems, and make better decisions.

Bachelor’s degree $72,100
Survey researchers

Survey Researchers

Survey researchers design surveys and analyze data. Surveys are used to collect factual data, such as employment and salary information, or to ask questions in order to understand people’s opinions, preferences, beliefs, or desires.

Master’s degree $45,050
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Statisticians,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/statisticians.htm (visited July 30, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014