Statistics are used in many fields including economics, biology, engineering, public health, medicine, psychology, marketing, education, and sports. Many political, military, and economic decisions cannot be made without adequate statistics. For example, statistical analysis must be performed to determine whether a new drug or a random variable is causing a changes in patients.
Statisticians use an effective method called sampling, using information about a small sample group of people to draw conclusions about a larger group of people, known as a population. For example, TV rating can be determined by sampling. Statisticians determine how to collect the information, what questions to ask in surveys, and what groups to test. To conclude the process, they collect, interpret, and publish the information and their findings.
Statisticians employed by businesses and corporations serve an important function working in quality control and product improvement. For example, statisticians working in the auto industry coordinate experiments to determine engine failure rates in bad weather. At software companies, statisticians coordinate and develop new software products designed to collect and analyze data. Other statisticians specialize in manufacturing, marketing, and sales. Statisticians work in the financial industry evaluating risks and investment returns. Statisticians work for almost all government agencies, preparing surveys and measuring such statistical figures as unemployment and population growth. Some work for agricultural, environmental, or scientific agencies measuring pesticides in the water supply, endangered species in a forest, or the percent of people suffering from a debilitating disease. They also work for the defense agencies performing such duties as determining a missile's accuracy.
Very few statisticians actually work under the title 'statistician'. Since they are employed in some many industries, with varying responsibilities, they often go by other titles. For example, statisticians working in economics are known as econometricians, statisticians working in health care go by biometrician, biostatistician, or epidemiologist.
That are roughly 230 colleges and universities in the United States that offer degrees in statistics or a closely related discipline. Several other universities offer graduate degrees in applied statistics for students who've earned a bachelor's degree in business, economics, biology, psychology, education and engineering. While a bachelor's degree in statistics or mathematics is useful for pursuing a graduate degree in statistics, it's not required. However, a strong competency in mathematics is required.
Since much of the statistics analysis that take place today relies on computer technology, a strong background in computer science is very useful for becoming a successful statistician. Depending on the desired career field, earning a degree outside of statistics, such as engineering, economics, biology, or health sciences, may be very helpful.
Mathematical statisticians earn about $93,000 a year, on average. Statisticians working with the Federal Government make about $83,000 a year. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, students who only earn a bachelor's degree in mathematics or statistics have an average starting salary of roughly $45,000 a year.
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