Statistics as a career

Interest in collecting, analyzing and interpreting data can lead to a career in statistics.

If we think about it hard enough, statistics is an area that we use frequently in our lives. Statistics involves collecting information in the form of numbers from items that we are measuring. According to Michigan State University Extension, the information that we collect or record is sometimes shared with other people to help them make decisions or plans; or they’re for us to use to make decisions or plans. The key to the numbers we collect is interpreting them to tell us, and others what they mean.

Did you know that statistics is a career and can be used in many different career fields? People who are employed in a career in statistics are called statisticians. Statisticians are employed in health and medicine, business and industry, and government. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industries in 2012 that employed the most statisticians were:

  1. Federal government
  2. Finance and insurance
  3. Educational services
  4. State and local government (excluding education and hospitals)
  5. Health care and social assistance.

For sports fans, another industry to think about for a career in statistics is athletics.

What are some skills needed to be a statistician? The ability collect, analyze and interpret data are the important skills to have. Performing well in math classes is important too. According to the American Statistical Association, as a high school student you should take the following classes

  • Statistics
  • Math
  • Science
  • Computer
  • English

A postsecondary degree is needed for a career in statistics. Each degree, the bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D., have a place for students interested in a career as a statistician. There are majors at the college level related to statistics. For example, Michigan State University offers the bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degree, in the Department of Probability and Statistics and the Department of Mathematics. Students can also pursue majors in the general sciences or social sciences and minor in statistics.

Participating in activities will also help prepare for a career in statistics like volunteering in a science lab for an experiment to collect information or for a social service agency to distribute surveys, collect data and interpret the results. Check with a high school counselor to find out the options for volunteering to prepare for this career field.

There are opportunities to go into this career. If you are interested in math and you find yourself enjoying the time to collect, calculate, analyze and interpret data, statistics is an option for you to pursue as a career.

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