Would you enjoy tackling cutting-edge problems? Being at the frontiers of mathematics and probability? Creating and applying innovative solutions? Working independently or as part of a team? If yes, then look no further than a career in statistics. In our information-rich world, we depend heavily on quantitative reasoning. Today, there is a growing demand for statisticians, experts who can produce trustworthy data, analyze data to make their meaning clear, and who can draw practical conclusions from these data.
Statisticians work in both the public and private sectors performing a variety of tasks. Government statisticians abound in numerous federal and state agencies. You might be compiling and analyzing unemployment rates for the Bureau of Labor Statistics or studying the import/export balance with Latin America for the Department of Commerce. Counting the number of people in the U.S. is an enormous and controversial project conducted every decade by the Bureau of the Census. In each of these cases, the collection and analysis of data are accomplished for the purpose of effecting public policy.
The medical arena is another setting in which statisticians make significant contributions. As a member of a research team you could be investigating the efficacy of a new treatment for cancer. New surgical or medical procedures require careful study before they are approved for general implementation. This requires precisely designed experiments to demonstrate the validity of the new procedures. The same is true for new drugs, which must be approved by the FDA. Statisticians working in pharmaceutical firms, independent research organizations, and government laboratories such as the National Institute of Health design the experiments, collect the data, and analyze the results. Two other interesting employers of statisticians are the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, which study the etiology and epidemiology of infectious diseases.
Environmental concerns have also spawned numerous studies. The Environmental Protection Agency employs statisticians to monitor air and water pollution problems. Similarly, public and private agencies are constantly evaluating the safety of nuclear power plants. Expertise in ecology, chemistry, or public policy is a plus.
In industry, many companies hire statisticians to maintain quality in their operations. Reliability and quality control are the key elements and statisticians are pivotal in designing systems to collect data that can be used to refine production or services.
Another area of considerable statistical involvement is that of survey research. Polling firms such as Gallup conduct surveys to gauge political preferences. These can affect campaign strategies as well as voter decisions. Surveys are also critical to businesses seeking to profitably meet consumer demands. Statisticians in market research firms will design elaborate surveys to estimate public response to new or proposed products and services. What’s your preference: Coke or Pepsi?
Obtaining a job as a statistician is feasible with a bachelor’s degree but an advanced degree will significantly increase your market value. The job market for statisticians is promising. If you like mathematics and computers, want to use your quantitative skills, like collaborating with others while learning new things, and enjoy tackling new and practical problems, then this is the career for you!