There are plenty of math and science STEM careers from which to choose, but if you're a numbers person, a job as a statistician may be perfect for you. These professionals spend their days slicing and dicing data on behalf of businesses, the government and other organizations.

Among other things, their tasks may include the following.

Determining what type of data is needed to address a specific problem or question.

Working to identify sources of data or set up surveys or other methods to collect it.

Analyzing data by using math knowledge and statistical theory.

Coordinating efforts with other members of a research or project team.

In a world of big data, statistician careers are poised to see significant growth in the coming years. Businesses and organizations are collecting more information than ever, but they need qualified people to analyze and interpret it. Not everyone is suited for math-heavy jobs, but if you think you have what it takes, keep reading to find out more about the world of statisticians.

College iconHow Much do Statisticians Make?

Income potential for statisticians can vary greatly depending upon the industry and location where an individual works. Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found statisticians earned average annual incomes of $84,010 in 2014. However, some professionals in the field may earn significantly more.

For example, the American Statistical Association reports statisticians working as professors and instructors often earn six figure incomes. The highest paid professors, according to a 2014 salary survey, are those with 8-10 years of experience who work at research universities in the biostatistics department. Those individuals had a median income of $235,100 during the 2013-2014 school year.

It's not only statisticians in academia who are earning six figure incomes. Professionals working in some states may also find job opportunities paying six digits are readily available. The BLS found the following states all had an average statistician salary in excess of $100,000 in 2014.

  • New Jersey: $110,410
  • District of Columbia: $103,960
  • California:$103,590

Even within these states, there can be significant differences in statistician salary expectations. Here's a look at the highest paid metropolitan areas in the country in 2014, according to the BLS.

  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: $150,390
  • Edison-New Brunswick, NJ Metropolitan Division: $127,780
  • San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA Metropolitan Division: $123,600

Checkmark iconOccupational Requirements and Job Types for Statisticians

At the start of your statistician career, you may be able to get an entry-level job with a bachelor's degree in statistics or applied mathematics. However, if you want to advance to higher paid positions or try for a lucrative job in academia, you may need a master's degree or even a doctoral degree.

The American Statistical Association recommends college students major in a statistical field for their undergraduate degree. Those who decide to major in a different area should at least minor in math or statistics. At the graduate level, the association recommends students pursue internship or fellowship opportunities to gain real-world experience and hone their skills.

Speaking of skills, statisticians obviously need to have a good grasp of math and statistical theory. In addition, they must possess excellent critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Since a statistician may work as part of a team, or at least have to report their findings to others, they should also have effective oral and written communication skills.

When it comes time to find a job, statisticians will find there are employment opportunities across a diverse range of fields. The American Statistical Association says employers in the following broad industries make use of statisticians.

  • Health and medicine
  • Business and industry
  • Government

The BLS notes 17 percent of statisticians are employed by the federal government, making it the largest employer for this occupation.

Students interested in a specific job type may want to work with an academic advisor to focus on classes geared toward their intended area of work. For instance, an individual who wants to work in health and medicine may want to concentrate classwork in the area of biostatistics while someone planning to enter business may want to take classes in market research.

Projected Career Growth for Statisticians

Overall, job prospects for statisticians are expected to grow much more than the average for all occupations. From 2012-2022, the BLS expects employment for statisticians to grow 27 percent. Businesses will need professionals who can analyze customer data and trends while government may rely on statisticians to help them shape public policy. In the health care industry, an aging population means more statisticians may be employed to interpret data from clinical trials and prescription drug testing, among other things.

While job growth should be robust across the country, some states will see even greater demand for statisticians in the coming year. According to the BLS, the following states should see the greatest level of growth from 2012-2022.

  • Utah: 41.7 percent
  • California: 40.7 percent
  • Kansas: 40.2 percent
  • North Carolina: 40 percent
  • Texas: 36.9 percent

There is a lot to love about being a statistician. Not only is the average statistician salary above average, but it's a growing field that allows workers to explore a variety of interesting topics. Talk to a representative of a statistician school in your area to learn more about the exciting opportunities offered by this career.

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1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Statisticians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/statisticians.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes152041.htm
3. Career Center, American Statistical Association, http://www.amstat.org/careers/index.cfm
4. Long-Term Projections, Projections Central, http://www.projectionscentral.com