A major in statistics might appeal to you if you love working with numbers and enjoy taking classes in math, computers and the physical and social sciences. However, you might wonder if a statistics degree is a marketable choice for career preparation.
While those outside the field may ask you what job you could do with a statistics degree, the reality is that many different industries and job roles require skills in data collection, manipulation and analysis. Whether you go on to work in a job that includes “statistician” in the title or use your education in a different analytical position, you will find that a statistics degree qualifies you for numerous jobs with high pay and faster than average rates of career growth.
What Can I Do With a Statistics Degree?
During the 2017 through 2018 school year, 2,560 students earned a bachelor’s degree in general statistics, the National Center for Education Statistics reported. Master’s degrees in statistics were even more common, with 3,181 awarded that same academic year, and 456 students earned a doctoral degree in the subject. If you, too, are contemplated statistics as a potential field of study, you’re probably curious about the most common – and best – jobs for stats majors.
If you automatically assume that statistics majors go on to become statisticians, you’re not exactly off base, but you should know that the full range of career options is broader than that. Many statistics students will pursue this job role that is so clearly linked to their field of study, and there are good reasons – including a high median pay rate and a rapid rate of job growth – to do so. However, as a prospective student of statistics, you might also want to explore other stats major jobs, most of which are analytical job roles.
Statistics is the mathematical science discipline that revolves around the collection, analysis and interpretation of quantitative data. While math can be either theoretical or applied, statistics is typically applied, because the discipline is used to gather, organize and make meaning of real numerical data. The concepts and methods of statistics can be applied to many different fields, including research in the physical and social sciences, government recordkeeping, healthcare, business, marketing, finance and insurance. Since these numerous and diverse fields rely on the work of professionals with a background in statistics, they are all potential areas of employment that students with a statistics degree should consider.
You should begin thinking about how you want to use your statistics degree early in your education. Statistics students are often encouraged to pursue studies in an additional area of interest to help them gain interdisciplinary knowledge that will be useful in their career in statistics. You might meet this expectation informally, through your electives, or by pursuing a second major, a minor, or a formal concentration or academic track within your major.
The Statistician Career Path
One of the most obvious statistic major jobs is statistician. About 42,000 workers across the United States were statisticians as of 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Statisticians apply the principles and techniques of statistical analysis to understand and interpret numerical data. The work of statisticians helps us identify numerical trends in all kinds of fields and understand phenomena in the life, physical, and social sciences.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the statistician career, at least as of 2020, is its exceptional rate of job growth. The BLS expected job opportunities for statisticians to grow by a much faster than average rate of 35 percent between 2020 and 2030. Growth at the predicted rate would yield 14,900 new jobs for statisticians.
The Top-Employing Industries for Statisticians
Statisticians work in a surprisingly wide array of industries. The research and development industry – specific to the physical, engineering and life sciences – was the single largest employer of statisticians in 2020, accounting for 14 percent of jobs in this occupation, the BLS reported. Examples of roles in this industry include lead statistician in companies that produce therapeutic treatments and therapies and biostatistician or clinical research statistician at pharmaceutical companies.
The next largest employer of statisticians is the federal government, which in 2020 employed 12 percent of this occupation. Government statisticians often gather and analyze data that is relevant to matters of public policy, ranging from unemployment rates that indicate the health of the economy to pollution rates that reflect impacts on the natural environment.
The Bureau of the Census, part of the federal Department of Commerce, is one of the many examples of government agencies that employ statisticians. Although the Constitutionally mandated decennial Population and Housing Census is only conducted every 10 years, that doesn’t mean the department and the statisticians and other employees who work for it aren’t active in the intervening years. When new Census data has been gathered, statisticians organize it into manageable and logical data sets that can be analyzed and interpreted to produce meaningful insights with actionable results such as updating population maps, influencing political representation counts and informing public policy efforts and priorities.
As the next Census year approaches, the Bureau of the Census must plan for the upcoming data collection, which includes researching and planning for effective and efficient data collection practices. The Bureau of the Census also conducts other surveys and studies, including the housing- and workforce-oriented American Community Survey (ACS), the Economic Census and the Census of Governments.
The healthcare and social assistance industry was the third-largest employer of statisticians, making up 9 percent of the field. Statisticians in these roles might work for hospital systems and health-related organizations and associations. The remaining top employment fields for statisticians included insurance carriers, which employed 8 percent of statisticians, and colleges and universities, where 7 percent of the occupation worked as of 2020.
Sports Statistician Careers
One popular role within this occupation is sports statistician. This career may well be your dream job if you love sports and enjoy the mathematical science of statistics.
Sports statisticians apply statistical methods of compiling and analyzing data to sporting events. Baseball, football, basketball and hockey enthusiasts are often drawn to this career path, which can take two forms: academic sports statistician and recorder, also known as scorer.
Academic sports statisticians, who often have advanced degrees, apply statistical methods to analyze data in sports. In doing so, they look for trends, patterns and other interesting findings that improve the game or our understanding of it. Calculating batting averages is only the tip of the iceberg that is the statistical analysis of sports. Academic sports statisticians, for example, may be able to shed light on whether fastballs in baseball are getting even faster. Today’s sports analytics data trends are even affecting how sports are played, allowing coaches to adjust playing strategies based on the probability of success and even the likelihood of injuries to players.
Recording sports statisticians watch the game and record scoring and other data in real-time. The competition for this job, however, is often fierce. Full-time employment opportunities for scorers are hard to come by, and even organizations that do employ these professionals may only need one of them. Of course, if you’re going to watch games and report their scores live, your work schedule will revolve around game schedules.
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When you apply your statistical knowledge to the healthcare field, you might have the job title of biostatistician. These specialized statisticians work in settings like hospitals, medical clinics and pharmaceutical companies, the BLS reported.
Biostatisticians conduct a variety of work analyzing data in the fields of biology, healthcare and medicine. The work of biostatisticians helps the medical community understand the causes of and contributing factors to diseases and the efficacy of new treatment methods.
Statisticians earned a median salary of $92,270 in 2020. Those working in federal government roles and research and development roles earn the most, at $112,940 and $102,370, respectively, the BLS reported.
Analytical Career Paths With a Statistics Degree
If none of these statistician career options sounds quite right for you, don’t worry. A statistics degree has far more applications beyond statistician. There are many different opportunities for candidates with strong analytical, logical and reasoning skills.
Statistics majors are excellent at analyzing data, a skill that holds a lot of value in the real world. Some of the analytical job roles you might pursue as a statistics major include actuary, operations research analyst, data analyst or data scientist, quantitative analyst and computer systems analyst.
Actuary Jobs With a Statistics Degree
For statistics majors who want to stay in math-related occupations, one excellent job you can get with your degree is actuary. In this role, you would apply your mathematical skills and your familiarity with statistical analysis software to compute the financial costs of risk, most likely for an insurance company or a bank or finance company.
Actuaries make a six-figure median salary and don’t need a graduate degree, but they must pass a grueling series of professional certification exams that can take up to a decade to complete, the BLS reported. Between 2020 and 2030, job opportunities for actuaries should increase by a much faster than average rate of 24 percent, or 6,800 new jobs, according to BLS predictions. As of 2020, the median salary for actuaries was $111,030 per year, which puts your earning potential in this career path even higher than that of a statistician.
Operations Research Analyst Jobs for Stats Majors
Operations research analyst is another math-related profession to consider with your statistics degree. Organizations ranging from private corporations to the Department of Defense depend on operations research analysts to apply their mathematical and statistical skills to evaluate their operations for ways to solve problems, streamline processes and make the organization work better.
The 2020 median wage for operations research analysts was slightly below that of statisticians, at $86,200. However, this larger occupation that employed 104,100 workers as of 2020 offers far more opportunities, the BLS reported. With the BLS predicting a 25 percent rate of job growth between 2020 and 2030, this profession is likely to keep growing by as many as 25,600 new opportunities.
Data Analyst, Quantitative Analyst and Computer Systems Analyst Jobs With a Statistics Degree
Beyond the field of mathematics, graduates of statistics degree programs find work in all kinds of industries. Often, they hold job titles such as data analyst or data scientist. In finance, the role of quantitative analyst typically requires a master’s degree and involves applying statistical modeling to the markets of business and finance.
Tech-savvy students may be interested in a computer systems analyst role, which requires information technology (IT) knowledge as well as analytical skills to evaluate computer systems and devise technological solutions to problems.
The demand for these non-statistician roles is high. Experts projected that three million new jobs would open up for candidates who have data science and analytical skills in the year 2020 alone. Many of these statistics-related careers offer high wages.
The Curriculum and Concentration Options of a Statistics Degree
If you’ve decided that a career in statistics is for you, the next step is to learn more about the degree itself. When you major in statistics, you should expect to take classes in probability, statistical concepts and applications, inferential statistics, statistical programming and more. Analysis plays a big part in studying statistics, including in courses in multivariate analysis, regression analysis, analysis of categorical data and analysis of forecasting systems. Coursework in experimental design methods and survey sampling in business help students learn the specifics of important areas of application, such as research and business. Statistics majors will also take coursework in other branches of the mathematical sciences, including linear and abstract algebra, differential equations and topology.
At the undergraduate level, statistics programs are offered in both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. According to U.S. News & World Report, Bachelor of Arts programs tend to emphasize the practical application of statistical methods more, while Bachelor of Science programs focus more on the intensive math coursework that prepares students for graduate study in this field.