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A statistician is someone who uses mathematical techniques to analyze and interpret data and draw conclusions. Although they work mostly in offices, they may travel in order to supervise surveys or gather data.
Statisticians typically do the following:
Statisticians design surveys, experiments, and opinion polls to collect data. Some surveys, such as the national 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 develop survey questionnaires or reporting forms for collecting the data they need. They often write instructions for workers who collect and tabulate the data. Surveys may be mailed, conducted over the phone, or collected online or through some other means.
Statisticians analyze the data that is collected. In their analyses, they calculate averages, reliability, and other specifics. They also choose and conduct tests to find out the data’s reliability and validity. They explain the limitations of the data to prevent inaccurate conclusions from being drawn, and they identify trends and relationships.
Statisticians use computers with specialized statistical software to analyze data. Some help to create new statistical software packages to analyze data more accurately and efficiently. They write reports to explain their findings and the data’s limitations. They may present their reports to other team members and to clients with tables, charts, and graphs. They also recommend how to improve the design of future surveys or experiments.
About a third of statisticians work for the government, mostly at the federal level. They are sometimes called mathematical statisticians. These workers develop advanced statistical models for several purposes, such as filling in gaps from non-responses to surveys.
Many statisticians work for private businesses, such as pharmaceutical and insurance companies, and 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 situations. Because statisticians in business provide advice on research projects or oversee the gathering of data, they travel occasionally for face-to-face meetings with team members.
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, although significant training in mathematics is essential. Required subjects for a bachelor’s degree in statistics include differential and integral calculus, statistical methods, mathematical modeling, and probability theory.
Because statisticians use and write computer programs for many calculations, a strong background in computer science is helpful. Training in engineering or physical science is useful for statisticians working in manufacturing on quality control or productivity improvement. A background in biology, chemistry, or health sciences is useful for work involving testing pharmaceutical or agricultural products.
Both actuaries and statisticians have similar skills sets, such as computer knowledge, mathematical knowledge, and the use of statistical techniques. Where they differ is their employment settings, and the scope of their work.
Actuaries work specifically within the insurance industry, and handle data related to risk, providing companies with statistical probabilities of future occurrences. They focus on the financial losses that are associated with accidents, illnesses and natural disasters, and help insurance companies assign what coverage and premiums the client should be charged.
Statisticians (sometimes called data scientists) can work in a variety of settings, with multiple types of data. They are employed in banks, government agencies, consulting firms, technology firms, health-care organizations.. anywhere that collects and handles large amounts of data. They use statistical techniques to extract, analyze and summarize, turning complicated data sets into usable information. This information is then given to management, which will in turn use it to make informed decisions and policies.