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How to Become a Statistician

Most statisticians enter the occupation with a master's degree in statistics, mathematics, or survey methodology, although a bachelor's degree is sufficient for some entry-level jobs. Research and academic jobs generally require a Ph.D.


Many colleges and universities offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs in statistics. A bachelor’s degree in statistics is not needed to enter a graduate program, although significant training in mathematics is essential. Required subjects for a bachelor’s degree in statistics include differential and integral calculus, statistical methods, mathematical modeling, and probability theory.

Because statisticians use and write computer programs for many calculations, a strong background in computer science is helpful. Training in engineering or physical science is useful for statisticians working in manufacturing on quality control or productivity improvement. A background in biology, chemistry, or health sciences is useful for work involving testing pharmaceutical or agricultural products.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. Statisticians use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

Problem-solving skills. Statisticians must develop techniques to overcome problems in data collection and analysis, such as high nonresponse rates, so that they can draw meaningful conclusions.

Speaking skills. Because statisticians often work in teams, they must be able to orally communicate statistical information and ideas so that others will understand.

Writing skills. Good writing skills are important for statisticians because they need to explain technical matters to persons without their level of statistical expertise.


Opportunities for promotion are greater for people with master's degrees or Ph.D.s. Statisticians with a master's degree or a Ph.D. usually can design their own work. They may develop new statistical methods. They may become independent consultants.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition