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What Does a Statistician Do?

Some individuals who appreciate mathematics may be curious about the career of a statistician. Questions like “what is a statistician,” and “what does a statistician do,” may arise. Below is information about the statistician’s role and details on how to launch a career in the field. The reader should walk away with a clear understanding of what the career entails and how to become a statistician.

Who is a Statistician?

A professional statistician is a person who is involved in the gathering of quantitative data as well as the analysis and interpretation of such data while working in the field of applied of theoretical statistics. The individual in this role also presents the interpretation of the data in question. A statistician can work in a wide range of industries including market research, sports, transportation, environmental, forensic, financial, government, education, and health sectors. A statistician is responsible for gathering of information for use in surveys and managed experiments. The data the professional assesses is within context. The individual attempts to identify existing patterns and correlated findings within the collected data. In turn, the findings serve as the foundation for the development of problem-solving strategies or for the discovery of a method for improving a given endeavor, product, or process.

Statistician Job Description

The statistician career is a path involving the development of opinion polls, experiments, questionnaires, and surveys in an effort to gather data for further examination and pattern identification. The job of the statistician may involve conducting surveys via online means, the telephone, or through traditional mail. This career path will have the professional interacting with others from a wide range of disciplines and sometimes working as part of a team of professionals.

A statistician will be responsible for identifying the sample group under analysis and for collecting data from the sample group. The group may be large and all-inclusive as it is with the United States census, but the sample groups are often far smaller and serve as a representative of a select larger group. The job requirements of the statistician include knowledge of industry related software for data analysis so the professional can assess information while looking to identify relationships and trends present in existing data. The statistician will sometimes have to perform special tests to validate data and to account for issues related to sampling errors or higher non-response rates among survey participants. Other professionals may serve as a consultant in the development of industry software in order to ensure the platforms utility in assessing data with accuracy. To that end, the same professionals may provide recommendations on better ways for collecting data or for the analysis of it.

The process of data analysis is the last step before the presentation of findings and the discussion of the conclusions drawn along with potential limitations. The presentation stage involves the use of graphs, charts, tables, and special reports and presents all of the latter resources to clients or team members. Statisticians will supply mathematical models, collaborate with other professionals, create simulations, create random samples, and experiments for analysis in an effort to make important, even crucial forecasts related to products, processes, or events.

Very few professionals who are statisticians actually work with such a title as a reference, and this is primarily due to the various fields in which a statistician’s skills are in demand. Some people, therefore, work under a very different title but still perform the very basic tasks of the professional statistician. For instance, when a statistician works in the field of healthcare, the individual may work under the title of an epidemiologist, biostatistician, or biometrician; likewise, if the individual is working in the field of economics, the individual may carry the title of econometrician. To confuse matters further, there are many jobs where the use of statistics are involved, but the individual is not necessarily a statistician per se: Take, for example, the role of the psychologist, who at some point may use statistical data, but does not necessarily focus on it entirely during the course of their profession.

Statistician Duties and Tasks

Statistician Duties and Tasks

The statistician will require a college education from an accredited university or college, and all of the basic skills the job title demands. The statistician job description includes the need for organization skills and the ability to communicate clearly, since such skills are just as important as the ability to fulfil basic job responsibilities. Additional duties and responsibilities the statistician must fulfill include:

  • Making decisions related to sampling both data and in choosing representative groups
  • Determining what data to assess in order to discover real-world solutions to existing issues
  • Sorting relevant from irrelevant data in order to ensure the efficient and accurate assessment of gathered information
  • Designing experiments, polls, surveys, and questionnaires
  • Gathering data for further analysis
  • The identification of patterns or correlative relationships within examined data
  • Analysis, interpretation, and presentation of findings
  • Report conclusions from findings
  • Working in multiple fields and sectors
  • Mathematical theory usage and development
  • Client and team consultations
  • Understanding and embracing legislative and ethical considerations
  • Long-term study of data and how it is influenced or changed over time
  • Report writing or alternative publications
  • Training other statisticians or taking on a teaching position
  • The use of industry-related software and/or assisting in the development of such platforms

Skills Required

  • Statistical Analysis
  • Data Analysis
  • The Programming Language & software environment “R”
  • Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) developed by the SAS Institute
  • Data Modelling
  • Data Mining
  • SQL: Structured Query Language
  • Microsoft Excel
  • SPSS: Statistics Software
  • Mathematical Abilities
  • Computer Literacy
  • Communication Skills: Both Oral/Written

Working Conditions

The statistician’s job is office-based the majority of the time, although some travel may be involved when it comes time attend business meetings, conduct interviews, to distribute surveys, supervise an ongoing research project, or to present findings to clientele. Some telecommuting is possible. The average workday usually spans from the average eight-hour day, from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. If there is a deadline pending, it can result in some overtime. If the statistician has a role in an academic setting, researching, publishing, and teaching are likely requirements.

The statistician may also be required to attend international, as well as national and regional industry-related conferences. Some statisticians work alone and others are part of a multi-disciplinary team. In some cases, a professional statistician can take on the entrepreneurial path and work in the consultancy role.


Statistician Salary

Statistician Salary

In order to reveal the answer to the question of how much does a statistician make, it is necessary to define the factors that may affect the salary a qualified individual receives. Salaries increase with the passage of time and as the professional gains experience in the industry. The level of one’s position, whether it is entry, mid, experienced, or advanced also influences the salary one receives. The employer, national average salary and any special skills the statistician has can influence what the individual makes annually.

How Much Does a Statistician Make?

In the United States, statisticians face a national average salary of $72,000 a year. Some individuals may receive bonuses nearing $13,000, and possible profit sharing benefits also nearing $13,000; thus, the statistician salary base may span anywhere from $44,000 to $113,000, with a huge fluctuation from one professional to another that is based on performance. The biggest influencing factor on salary one receives working in this role is experience, and this factor is followed by the issue of geography.


More precisely, at present the national average salary for the job of a statistician is $71,948.  Those in an entry-level position, covering the first five years of employment, make about 11 percent less than the national average with a salary of $64,000. Once in the work force for a period of five to 10 years, the individual makes about 13 percent more than the national average with a salary of $81,000. The more experienced statistician makes as much as 34 percent the national average with a yearly salary of around $97,000. Once in the job force beyond 20 years and entering into the late career period, a statistician may make up to 59 percent above the national average up to $114,000.

In terms of geographic considerations, the city of San Francisco, California offers 33 percent above the national average with a salary of $95,693. In Seattle, Washington, the professional can expect a salary that is 20 percent above the national average at $86,544. Those who work in Austin, Texas can expect a salary that is 17 percent above the national average at $84,285; in Washington, DC, the average salary is around $77,118, and in Atlanta, Georgia, the salary is about two percent above the national average at $73,049. The cities that currently pay the on the lower end of the scale include Chicago, Boston, New York, Tampa, and Los Angeles, with salaries at $72,814, $71,457, $69,217, $68,199, and $67,242 respectively.


Statistician Employment

According to the data originating from the National Occupational Employment Statistics by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an increase in available jobs is evident when comparing available positions from 2010 to 2011; there is a noted increase of 940 available positions. When comparing the jobs available from 2011 to 2012, another increase is noted and it nearly doubles the year prior with 1800 jobs. From 2012 to 2013, there is a clear decline in job positions for statisticians, with a drop of 980 positions. Then, from 2013 to 2014, there is a large increase in positions equalling 2020 jobs.


Based on the allocation of the 30,000 positions in the year 2014, the business sectors one can find work opportunities in are diverse.  Fifteen percent of statisticians worked for the federal government, and 14 percent worked in the field of scientific research.  Within the federal job sector, common positions are at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the United States Census Bureau.  Another 13 percent of statisticians worked in the finance and insurance sectors, and another nine percent found jobs in private, local, state, and professional schools, universities, and colleges.  Seven percent of those working as a statistician held jobs working with scientific, management, and technical consultants.

Gender Distribution

The job title of statistician has an unbalanced gender distribution with many of the job positions filled by males versus females.  In fact, out of all positions, women fill only 43 percent of the jobs, and men fill the remaining 57 percent.  It appears as if educational disparity is behind the reason why some occupational segregation exists between males and females working in the role of statistician At one time, there was a shortage of females pursing educations and careers, and the differences in levels of education were the reason behind the shortage of women in certain fields. While this may have been the case in the past, within the past four decades, females have been seeking higher education opportunities at a rate that quickly outpaces males. Nevertheless, there are 14 percent fewer females working in the role of statistician at this time.  Currently, there is still a dearth of females in the field of mathematics and science, even though the issue is slowly changing over the course of time.



How to Become a Statistician?

How to Become a Statistician

An individual who wants to be a statistician can start out by having a strong interest in mathematics as well as statistics. It is a good idea to pursue these interests as much as possible in a high school setting, but it is not a requirement to do so. For anyone interested in pursuing this career path knowledge of computers and knowing how to use statistics-related software are necessities.

Statistician Education Requirements

It is a good idea to undertake some courses in computer science. On occasion, there might arise a job position for a statistician that only requires a bachelor’s degree to get into the entry-level job.  Typically though, many positions require at least a master’s and prefer a Ph.D. in mathematics and statistics.  If you plan to be a teacher, statistician education requirements include the pursuit of a Ph.D.  The good news is there are well over 200 universities and colleges featuring graduate degrees that can ready students for the career of the statistician.

Statistician Colleges

The US News & World Report offers a listing of the top ten Statistician colleges so that any student looking to gain a degree in this field can have an easier time in choosing the ideal school to attend.  The website is one listing college rankings from across the United States. Below are the top ten recommended colleges or universities to attend to major in mathematics and statistics:


  1. Stanford University, California
  2. University of California, Berkeley, California
  3. Harvard University, Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts
  4. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  5. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  6. University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  7. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  8. Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
  9. University of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  10. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Major Subjects

To pursue a graduate degree often times a bachelor’s is preferred, but, it is not necessarily required. Alternatively, some schools provide students with degrees in applied statistics, but the student will also need to complete prerequisite courses including, but not limited to, engineering, education, psychology, biology, economics, and business.  When studying for a bachelor’s, coursework in statistical theory, probability, survey methodology, experimental design, calculus, and linear algebra are required.  Pursuing coursework in related subjects or field is recommended: Such fields include physics, engineering, chemistry, biology, and computer science.

Statistician Specializations

Statistician Specializations

The subspecialty for the role of statistician is the biostatistician, which is a career in the field of life sciences where the individual applies biostatistician theory and methodologies to the work at hand. The biostatistician is hired, on occasion, for the title of a Senior Biostatistician, Biostatistics Director, or Principle Biostatistician, among other titles. The role of the biostatistician may eventually evolve into the role of senior biostatistician later on in the candidate’s career. The Biostatistician is responsible for readying and assessing statistical data in relation to biology related issues and the individual will get experience in designing research projects and surveys.  The day-to-day responsibilities of the biostatistician are much like those of the statistician.  The individual will conduct research, collect and analyze data, work with team members and consult colleagues with findings.

As noted earlier, there are some positions that a statistician can fulfill and is often hired for that do not necessarily fall within the umbrella category of the statistician’s job title. For example, a statistician working in the healthcare field is a biometrician or biostatistician: This individual will work will hospitals, public health agencies, and pharmaceutical companies.  The position involves coming up with tests to determine the success rate of treatments or medication.  Other statisticians in the health care field are epidemiologists.

Some statisticians work as econometricians within the field of economics.  Meanwhile, some work for the government as a mathematical statistician.  Then there are individuals who do not take on a formal title related to statistician, but who still use skills of the statistician when fulfilling their job description including data scientists, data analysts, market research analysts, or quantitative analysts.

Professional Associations of an Statistician

The American Statistical Association (ASA) is otherwise called: “The Big Tent for Statistics,” as it is the biggest community for the statistician in the entire world. The organization encourages and supports the application, development, and the expansion of statistical science through advocacy, accreditation, education, membership services, publications, and group meetings.  The members of the ASA work in the government, industrial, and academic sectors in over 90 countries, all while working tirelessly to promote exceptional statistical practice for the purposes of improving human welfare and in informing public policy as well as the advancement of research.

Some of the famous members of the ASA include the likes of Martin Van Buren, Andrew Carnegie, Herman Hollerith, Alexander Graham Bell, and Florence Nightingale.  This association of statistician organization is the second oldest for statisticians: It was founded in November 1839 in Boston, Massachusetts.  The group was formed in the American Education Society and, by the early 1840s, was over 100 members strong.  By 1939 at the group’s 100th anniversary, the organization had grown to over 3000 members.  Today, the group has more than six times the members it did in the 1940s, as membership is over 18,000 individuals from Canada, the United States, and around the world.

Famous Statisticians

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was a statistician, the founder of the field of nursing, as well as an honored English social reformer.  She worked closely with William Farr, the founder of the medical statistics field, to collect facts pertaining to how many people had died and the reasons for their death – the study proved revealing and helped in identifying an issue with the military-based health services at the time.  She also found that most deaths in Turkey were related to sanitation issues, not inadequate nutrition.

Herman Hollerith (1860-1929) is an American inventor and is also among famous statisticians. He created the tabulator-based punch cards that were used for collecting and tabulating vast amounts of data.  Hollerith created the Tabulating Machine Company: The latter business eventually merged and at one point became IBM.

Edwards Deming (1900-1993) is an American management consultant, lecturer, author, professor, statistician, and American engineer. He studied mathematical physics and developed the sampling methods that are still in use by the United States Department of Census.

Martin Van Buren (1782-1852), not only is Van Buren the eighth president of the United States, he was also a statistician and a proud member of The American Statistical Association.

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), the philanthropist and business magnate was also a statistician.  He used his knowledge of statistics in his writing, particularly the work “Triumphant Democracy,” where he relied heavily on the use of statistics to support his arguments that the system of republican government in American was better than the monarchical system of the British.

Statistician FAQ

What is the job outlook for the role of statistician?

There is anticipated growth rate for jobs between 2014 and 2024 equal to 34 percent, and this growth is far faster than other occupations. The forecast suggests there will be an additional 10,100 jobs available for qualified individuals. There will be an ongoing need for statisticians who can conduct statistical analyses for the betterment of the healthcare and business sectors as well as the need for such skills when it comes to making policy decisions. With the convenience of the Internet, new openings for professional statisticians will continue to evolve and develop. Additional sectors like the pharmaceutical industry will require the skills of statisticians and biostatisticians, and there will be jobs in the fields of life science and engineering.

What are some of the soft skills that can prove beneficial for the statistician looking to excel on the job?

Presentation skills: A statistician must present findings after seeking out patterns and identifying correlative data.  Honing presentation skills can help improve the reception of one’s presentation. Team Building and leadership skills are something the statistician may want to sharpen as well, since often times the individual is working either alone or with a team.  Personality training can help the statistician improve interpersonal relationships, elevate the individual’s confidence and thereby empower the individual to be a strong, confident person in the relevant job position.

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