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How to Become a Statistician

16 Sep

As business evolves to rely ever more heavily on the abundant data generated by our digital world, statistician roles are becoming increasingly important—and increasingly in demand. U.S. News and World Report ranks statistician as the No. 1 Best Business Job for its impressive combination of a high salary, comfortable work-life balance, current job market and future growth potential.1

If you’re one of the growing number of professionals exploring how to become a statistician, you likely could benefit from a resource exploring the different roles available throughout the field and some steps you can take to land one of those jobs. Read our guide on how to become a statistician with the right training, credentials and soft skills to succeed in a quantitative role in any organization.

What Do Statisticians Do?

Body: Statisticians work in organizations of all kinds curating and analyzing data to discover trends and help determine strategy. They collect and sort data, utilize mathematical modeling to predict future outcomes based on existing trends, and keenly parse data to separate useful information from noise. Statisticians must also be effective communicators who are able to frame their findings in ways that are intelligible to business audiences and suggest sound courses of action to organizational decision makers.2

The job of statistician might sound a lot like another extremely desirable contemporary role—data scientist. There are some clear differences between data scientists and statisticians, however. Data scientists tend to focus on developing and refining data-driven models through iteration and comparison, whereas statisticians utilize existing models to solve specific statistical problems. The two occupations also operate at quite different scales, with data scientists more commonly using methodologies and tools to help them approach vast quantities of “big data” while statisticians rely on more conventional techniques such as surveys and polls to collect and analyze smaller, more focused data sets.3

How Do I Become a Statistician?

If this data-driven career path sounds appealing to you, there are some concrete steps you can take to put yourself in the best position to succeed at it.

Earn an Advanced Degree

Many of the tools and techniques used by statisticians every day are quite complex and technical, and they can’t always be effectively self-taught or learned through informal instruction. An advanced degree in statistics, mathematics or another quantitative subject can help you build a comprehensive skill set and prepare you for a successful future in the field.

In addition to STEM or quantitative master’s degrees, you may want to consider data-focused business programs as well. These degrees, which are often called Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) degrees, can teach you methodologies that will be particularly useful in statistical roles within the business world.

Get Certified

A number of professional certifications exist that are of potential relevance to statisticians. While many companies may not require you to have one of these credentials in order to apply, they can still help differentiate you from the competition for some extremely desirable roles.

The American Statistical Association (ASA), a leading professional organization in the field, offers two different credentials to those with varying levels of experience working with statistics. Their entry-level certification is called the Graduate Statistician, or GStat, and it is followed by a more advanced credential called the Accredited Professional Statistician, or PStat. Both of these are available without taking a certification exam; you need only submit evidence of your work experience and an application fee to earn them.2

Additionally, a Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) certification may be beneficial to statistician job seekers. This certification requires that you pass a multiple choice exam and possess at least three years of experience working in the field.2 Explore your options for professional certifications and see which one best fits your experience and career goals.

Sharpen Your Soft Skills

Despite the heavily quantitative nature of their work, all successful statisticians must remember that data doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is only as valuable as the impact it can have in a business setting, and to make it tell a compelling story from a statistician role, it will need you to give it a voice.

A sharpened set of business communication skills is essential for a successful statistician to have an impact on their organization. You could work on developing your public speaking and presentation skills through an informal setting such as Toastmasters, or you could go the extra mile and build it into your formal training for the role. The Online MSBA from William & Mary emphasizes communication as a true source of competitive advantage for professionals in data-focused roles. It’s a great opportunity for you to learn how to make the most of your skill set and find your true career edge.

How Much Do Statisticians Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2019 median pay for statisticians was $91,160, making it a profession well worth the time and energy put into pursuing it. And not only is it a lucrative field, it is a rapidly expanding one as well: Mathematician and statistician roles are expected to grow by 30 percent by 2028, a rate the BLS describes as “much faster than average.”4

As in many fields, possessing an advanced degree can help you attain a salary at or near the top of the expected salary range for statistician roles. William & Mary’s Online MSBA is one such gateway to lucrative career outcomes, and offers the added bonus of connecting you to a powerful alumni network.

It All Adds Up at William & Mary

If using data to drive decisions at a top-tier organization sounds like a promising future for you, start preparing for a statistician role with William & Mary’s Online MSBA. For an example of the innovative thought leadership taking place in this program every day, check out our blog post on good data as an organizational asset.


1. Retrieved on August 18, 2020, from money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/statistician
2. Retrieved on August 18, 2020, from indeed.com/career-advice/careers/what-does-a-statistician-do
3. Retrieved on August 18, 2020, from medium.com/odscjournal/data-scientists-versus-statisticians-8ea146b7a47f
4. Retrieved on August 18, 2020, from www.bls.gov/ooh/math/mathematicians-and-statisticians.htm