How to become a Statistician


A statistician gathers numerical data through surveys and polls and uses the findings to make projections and offer advice to their employers. They work in a range of fields, including governments and local councils.

Statisticians look at different types of quantitative information to calculate predictions for a company or government body. They collect, analyse, and report statistics in various fields. This helps the employer or governing body make useful decisions and projections.

Statisticians can work in a range of fields, including medical, government, education, finance, forensics, and many more. A statistician will generally only work in one sector at once, but may change fields of expertise throughout their career.

The first part of a statistician’s job description is gathering data. They will do so through various acquisition methods, including sampling, where they will give a portion of a particular population polls or surveys and use their answers as a microcosm for the population or group as a whole.

Statisticians will then analyse these findings to calculate averages, trends, and projections, and present and report their conclusions. The findings of statisticians are used to make important decisions regarding quality control, business improvement, and even government announcements.

Statisticians can work in many different settings, including big businesses, national statistics offices, health services, research councils, and many other places. Sometimes, a statistician’s job title will not be ‘statistician’ but will in fact be something related to the industry; for example, an economical statistician might be called an econometrician, or a healthcare statistician may be a biometrician. Some employers prefer statisticians to have industry specific knowledge, but many businesses are happy for them to learn said knowledge on the job.

To become a statistician, candidates should take a relevant degree – statistics is the most obvious one, but maths is also very appropriate. Science and computing degrees could also be relevant – sometimes, students can opt to focus their maths and computing degrees on statistics.  All graduates, especially those who have not got a degree in statistics, would greatly benefit from postgraduate education in the subject.

In rare occasions, becoming a statistician with no degree could be possible; the candidate would need to have excellent vocational experience and a relevant statistic qualification from their country’s board of statisticians. However, being a statistician is becoming increasingly in demand and lesser qualified candidates are finding it more challenging to get positions.

Even for graduates, work experience is always valuable to become a statistician. Work experience in any kind of mathematical or data roles is highly beneficial, as is taking supplementary courses around the topics of statistics and data.

As well as education and work experience, statisticians should have some key skills. A flair for numeracy is obvious, but statisticians should also be analytical, as every statistical situation is unique and they will need to consider each from their own perspective. Communication skills, including presenting abilities, are essential, as statisticians will often need to detail their findings to non-statistical colleagues. Computer programming is also an essential tool for statisticians to have, as they will work with data and algorithms throughout their job.

Statisticians generally work office hours, however, they are sometimes required to do overtime to meet deadlines. Remote working is fairly common in the field; but all statisticians will need to travel for data collection and survey supervision.

What degree is most commonly held by a Statistician?

  • MA of / PhD in Statistics
  • MA of / PhD in Mathematics
  • MA of / PhD in Biostatistics
  • MA of / PhD in Mathematics and Statistics
  • MA of / PhD in Applied Statistics
  • MA of / PhD in Medical Statistics
  • MA of / PhD in Psychology
  • MA of / PhD in Economics
  • MA of / PhD in Applied Mathematics

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: Medium
Statisticians often work with government or local bodies; as every government operates differently, they will need specific skills and knowledge about the workings of their particular bodies. This means that governments and councils around the world may be reluctant to hire people from another country. However, statisticians who work with global bodies may find themselves travelling for work often to get data, and may have the opportunity for long-term contracts abroad. This particularly applies to medical statisticians. During outbreaks in some parts of the world, there will be opportunities for them to undertake field work, which may lead to permanent positions.

What is the Salary of a Statistician?

Experience Average salary | year
Statistician 1-3 yrs $30,000 £28,300 $54,396
Statistician 3-5 yrs $36,000 £40,000 $77,000
Lead Statistician 5-10 yrs $48,000 £53,700 $103,400

What skills are needed to become a Statistician?

  • Statistics
  • Data Analysis
  • R
  • Research
  • SAS
  • Statistical Modeling
  • SAS Programming
  • SPSS
  • Biostatistics
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Office
  • Analysis
  • Data Mining
  • Stata
  • Clinical Trials
  • Quantitative Research
  • SQL
  • Statistical Data Analysis
  • Matlab
  • Project Management
  • Clinical Research
  • LaTeX
  • Epidemiology
  • Science
  • Teaching

Statistician Courses

Due to statistics being such an in demand sector, candidates who are wondering how to become a statistician would benefit from taking relevant courses. There is a lot of information that statisticians are required to expertise in; and extra education can really help to improve knowledge. At FutureLearn, we have some great courses for trainee statisticians; such as secrets for demystifying numbers and making sense of data in the media.
  • Big Data: Statistical Inference and Machine Learning

    Learn how to apply selected statistical and machine learning techniques and tools to analyse big data

  • Survival Statistics: Secrets for Demystifying Numbers

    Learn to evaluate risk make useful approximations and more rational decisions with this online course on statistics

  • Data to Insight: An Introduction to Data Analysis and Visualisation

    Get a hands-on introduction to data science exploring principles of statistical analysis and data visualisation

  • Making Sense of Data in the Media

    Discover how to read and understand data in the media and how to spot fake news based on misleading statistics

Need even more evidence about why you should learn on FutureLearn?

We partner with over 170 world-class universities, institutions and industry leaders to create world-class courses to help you with your career. Whether you’re just starting out, wanting to deepen your knowledge or change direction, FutureLearn and our partners can help. These are just a few of our world-leading partners.