Job profile: Become a statistician
Posted on
May 16, 2023
What do you need to know to take a job as a statistician?

Statistics. The mere mention of the word strikes fear in the heart of countless humans. But you don't have to be daunted by it. Statistics are just numbers that tell a story. And who doesn't love a good story? Don't think too hard about all of the math. Do you want to be a storyteller?

Many of the most successful companies around the world make a priority out of tracking their data. Statisticians are responsible for collecting, analyzing, and summarizing this data. Statisticians help companies of all sizes draw useful conclusions from the data they collect.

It might sound to you like statisticians are just data scientists in that "rose by any other name" sense of workplace taxonomy. And the roles do overlap. At my company, for example, "stat-heads," as they are referred to, utilize our data to make long term predictions. In particular, they look for data that help companies assure long-term success.

These data sets might include information on customer tendencies, sales totals, employee output, and lead sources. As a statistician, you will collect and display data in ways that help company managers, stakeholders, and owners make future decisions.

If you're someone who enjoys collecting data, working with numbers, and facilitating informed business decisions, then this role could be your ticket to a rewarding career. Proficiency with statistics offers an amazing opportunity romping through what is still a green (that is to say, growing) field.

What do statisticians do?

What do you need to know to take a job as a statistician?

A statistician collects and analyzes a company's data. Familiar with all automated and manual data collection methods, statisticians work to identify trends in data sets, before offering those patterns to company executives who can tailor business operations accordingly. They also 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 whatever data 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 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.

In the technology world, data is king and those who can pull value from their data will be successful. Statisticians satisfy a wide range of duties. From data collection and analysis to the installation of statistical models, statisticians are responsible for diving into data that can inform more efficient business practices.

There is always going to be an interest in statistics and their analysis. Every company in the world wants the edge with data and to be able to predict the future. Every company wants that "ah-ha" moment when their data provides insights, so they will always want that person to be in that commanding role.

Job responsibilities

What do you need to know to take a job as a statistician?

The exact responsibilities of a statistician can include a variety of tasks. Collecting data from a variety of sources is a key responsibility. You should know a SQL language or the R language. Identifying trends across data sets is paramount. You must be able to look inside the data, not just look at it.

Any statistician will also collaborate with other company employees to ensure that data is collected correctly and completely. As I always say, soft skills are among the most important skills you can have.

You will be expected to provide user-friendly reports to executives, clearly identifying conclusions that can be drawn from a company's data. The higher you go in a company, the less they want to sift through words on a page to draw a conclusion. Instead, you will be guiding decision-making processes that occur as a result of collected data and its defining trends.

Statisticians must predict the future based on the past. You will be implementing statistical models and identifying conclusions once appropriate quantities of data have been collected. This is where models in the R language come in to play. These and other responsibilities can make for a busy schedule as a statistician. From data collection through trend identification, you are responsible for every stage in the data analysis process

Keep an eye on

Some of the newer areas where the profession is growing are in finance and crypto-finance. There is a lot of heavy lifting to be done here, especially in the realm of cryptocurrency, where available data is limited and the market is highly volatile.

Certification and training

What do you need to know to take a job as a statistician?

This role is a specialized career option, typically requiring at least a master's degree. To fulfill a statistician position for a higher-level organization, you might need at least a few years of experience in a specific industry.

A math background is a must, soft-skills are a given, and a truly analytical mind is paramount. I wouldn't hire anyone with just a boot camp certificate or a couple of certification to work as a statistician. Experience will be a deciding factor in most hiring decisions for this role. On the other hand, I would definitely send newly hired workers down the certification avenue.

For certifications, I would get R programming language or Hadoop certs, some SQL certs, and an overall cloud computing or Snowflake cert. I think a nice dose of creativity would benefit an individual in this role.

A couple of job specific certs that would be nice to have are those offered by the American Statistical Association (ACA). The ACA offers two different levels of certification, which are awarded on an application basis. The GStat certification is ideal for statisticians new to the field due to its lower experience standard, while the PStat requires at least five years of professional experience in a statistics role.

You could also score the Certified Analytics Professional credential. An applicant with three years of professional experience and a master's degree or five years of experience and a bachelor's degree are eligible to test for a CAP. Applicants must pass a closed-book examination that covers business problem framing, analytics problem framing, data, methodology selection, model building, deployment and life cycle management. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions with a passing score set by a panel of experts, which is usually near 70 percent.

This job, in my opinion, is highly specialized and not for the faint of heart. If you go after it, you will command the respect of your peers and certainly a hefty paycheck. I wish you success on your career journey.

About the Author
Nathan Kimpel

Nathan Kimpel is a seasoned information technology and operations executive with a diverse background in all areas of company functionality, and a keen focus on all aspects of IT operations and security. Over his 20 years in the industry, he has held every job in IT and currently serves as a Project Manager in the St. Louis (Missouri) area, overseeing 50-plus projects. He has years of success driving multi-million dollar improvements in technology, products and teams. His wide range of skills includes finance, as well as ERP and CRM systems. Certifications include PMP, CISSP, CEH, ITIL and Microsoft.

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