A statistician analyses data and advises on how it is collected. Statisticians can work across a broad range of sectors and industries, but their role remains the same throughout.
What is a statistician?
Statisticians collect, analyse, interpret, source and present data. The data that a statistician can collect will usually be quantitative; however, qualitative data can also be collected to back up their findings if needed.
A statistician can work in a variety of different industries and sectors. Usually, a statistician will work in education, sport, politics or forensics; however, some have been known to be used by companies looking to carry out market research.
Finding a career as a statistician without a degree is possible though it is generally preferred that you have at least an undergraduate degree.
Statisticians share much in common with data analysts, however, the two jobs have some differences. The two are often believed to do the same job, but in reality, the two are very different. Data analysts report on data from databases and use various data modelling techniques to back-up their findings. On the other hand, statisticians will generally be asked more wide-ranging questions beyond the raw data regarding its origin, analysis models and usefulness against other data sets.
The responsibilities of a statistician will depend largely on who you work for. Some companies will have you carry out different tasks for different people.
The most common responsibilities in most statistician jobs are:
- Advising on appropriate data collection and analysis methods for specific research projects or business problems.
- Cleaning and organising data sets.
- Collaborating with other professionals, such as researchers or data scientists, to develop and test statistical models.
- Designing and implementing statistical experiments and surveys to collect data.
- Developing new statistical methods and techniques to improve data analysis and interpretation.
- Interpreting and presenting results to stakeholders, such as clients or colleagues.
- Stay up-to-date with the latest statistical methods and technologies.
- Using statistical software to analyse data and draw conclusions.
You may take on more responsibilities as you move into more senior roles. These responsibilities will involve managing budgets and training new statisticians.
The statistician’s salary will depend on several factors. Where you work and the company you work for are big factors in how much you can earn in this role. Generally, a statistician starting salary is around the £23,000 mark.
Finding a career as a statistician without a degree is possible though it is generally preferred that you have at least an undergraduate degree. It is possible to find work with a foundation degree, higher national diploma (HND) or a higher national certificate (HNC), however, these are less desirable than an undergraduate degree.
You will be responsible for your training and development, though your employer will also be involved.
The best subjects to study when at university are:
- Accounting degrees
- Economics degrees
- Finance degrees
- Government and politics degrees
- Mathematics degrees
- Statistics degrees
A postgraduate degree is desirable but not essential in applying for statistics graduate jobs. Of course, the requirements for the role will largely depend on where you work. For instance, working at the Government Statistical Service (GSS), you will need to have achieved at least a 2:1 with an additional focus on mathematics, economics, psychology or similar subjects).
Training and developments
You will be responsible for your training and development, though your employer will also be involved. Lots of organisations such as the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) offer professional qualifications as well as professional membership for those looking for career development.
Registration with professional organisations is a good way to carry out more training. Not only that, but these organisations also have a range of useful seminars, lectures, statistician graduate jobs, networking events and help for those looking to carry out a continuing professional development (CPD).
Work experience is not essential for this role, but is hugely beneficial.
A CPD is not a professional requirement but may be an industry requirement. Those in regulated industries generally carry out CPDs, and most companies will require you to complete one while working in this role. A CPD is also a requirement if you plan on sitting the RSS Higher Certificate or other qualifications.
A statistician needs a small, but important number of skills to be successful in their role. As you advance in your role, you may find yourself learning more skills you would never of thought of to help you.
The skills needed to for a statistician career are:
- An acute understanding of data modelling strategies.
- Attention to detail.
- Excellent analytical skills.
- Excellent mathematical skills.
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
- Good problem-solving skills.
- The ability to work alone.
- The ability to work as part of a team.
These skills can be further honed through training and development.
Work experience is not essential for this role, but is hugely beneficial. Work placements and internships are great sources of experience for statisticians and can provide you with both invaluable experience and networking opportunities.
It is also possible to find pre-university work experience and shadow opportunities. This will generally depend on where the statistician is working; for instance, if the work experience you are undertaking or the shadowing opportunity is with sensitive data, you may find access limited. Although, it may be possible to question them further on the ins and outs of their job and their advice on how to become a statistician.
Career progression largely depends on you and your ambitions. Most companies encourage statisticians to move onto new roles every two years.
Typically, statisticians move into senior management roles. At this level, you will be responsible for managing a team of statisticians, managing budgets and training new staff members.
Statisticians collect, analyse, interpret, source and present data.
As you move through your roles, you will soon begin to greatly influence company policy. You may be asked to provide strategic leadership, advertise for graduate statistician jobs, and improve any company's statistical processes.
It is also possible to look into enhancing your own professional standing. Many statisticians look into becoming a Chartered Statistician (CStat), through the RSS or for Chartered Scientist (CSci) status, which the Science Council wards.
You are also free to explore other opportunities in other industries and sectors. Many decide to work with the civil service, although you need to apply through the Government Analysis Function or through the Civil Service Fast Stream service. It is also possible to explore opportunities in pharmaceuticals, banking or corporate statistics.