When you are trying to choose what kind of degree you should study, it can often be very difficult to make a decision. One subject that is often overlooked is Statistics, however, there are plenty of reasons why a degree in Statistics may well be the right choice for you.
In this article we will look at some of the benefits of a Statistics degree, what skills you will need to do so, and what kind of career prospects this kind of degree can open up to you.
What is Statistics?
We have all heard of the term “statistics”. You are most likely aware of some examples of statistics, such as “34% of consumers preferred one brand to another brand”, or “3 out of 4 dentists recommend a particular brand of dental floss”. These are examples of complete statistics, but Statistics as a field of study is a wide-ranging topic. Statistics is not just the process by which raw data is turned into a fractional figure like the previous statements.
Statistics are used for a huge range of different applications in a wide range of fields and industries. Science and research are some of the most obvious fields in which statistics are vital, but other sectors such as government, technology, engineering, education, health, entertainment, marketing, advertising, and robotics also require the use of statistics.
To put it in simple terms, Statistics is the implementation of data.
What Skills Do You Need to Study for a Degree in Statistics?
Not everyone is ideally suited to studying Statistics. This field of study does require certain soft skills and hard skills. People who are best suited to this discipline tend to be those who are logical thinkers with high abilities to reason and deduce. Patience is usually needed, as is attention to detail. Statistics is not a field that rewards being vague or unfocused.
If you are interested in areas such as technology, data, predictions, or even psychology and sociology, you may find Statistics to be an engaging and intellectually rewarding pursuit.
Where Can You Study for a Statistics Degree?
Statistics is offered at degree level (both undergraduate and postgraduate levels) at many different colleges and academic institutions all over the world. The field is considered one of the sciences and is highly respected. If you are interested in the convenience of a flexible schedule, remote working, and the ability to fit your studies around work or other commitments, there are also many online degree courses in Statistics available at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, which you can read more about here.
What is it Like to Work as a Statistician?
A professional who works in the field of Statistics is known as a Statistician. Dictionary.com defines the word “statistician” as “an expert in or compiler of statistics”. A career as a Statistician can include a wide range of different roles in different industries.
There are two broad subcategories within the field of Statistics. These are often known as “Statistical Theory” (or sometimes just Statistics) and “Applied Statistics”. Statistical Theory is more concerned with the theoretical tools and technical models behind the creation of statistics. Individuals who are more focused on this kind of work are more likely to work in fields such as academia and mathematics. Applied Statistics is more focused on the use of these tools and models as methods of analyzing collections of data to discover insights. Forecasting, data mining, predictive modelling, and parametric estimation are all examples of Applied Statistics.
Statisticians that specialize in Applied Statistics are more likely to work in fields such as business (where they may analyze market research data) or government (where they may work on putting together studies of populations for censuses, etc.).
To summarize the difference—Statistics / Statistical Theory is more theoretical, whereas Applied Statistics is more focused on real-world applications of these theories, in pursuit of a goal.
As the role of a Statistician is such a broad one, involved in so many different fields, the experience of working as a Statistician can vary hugely depending on what field and what specific job role you are working in.
Careers That a Statistics Degree Can Lead To
Statistics in general is a field that can lead to many different careers in many different industries, including (but not limited to) the following:
As mentioned earlier, mathematics is a field in which statistical models are often used. Analyzing raw data to discover percentages is one of the areas in which mathematics and statistics cross over. Accountancy, engineering, and science are all fields in which mathematicians end up working.
Like mathematics, data science is an interdisciplinary pursuit. Data scientists may specialize in data mining, “Big Data”, computer science, and machine learning. Data scientists use scientific methods and processes to gain insights from various forms of data. In computer science, algorithms and systems are often developed to carry out this work.
As more and more personal and professional data is stored on computer systems (often online), the field of cybersecurity is increasingly important and a highly sought-after profession. Experts in cybersecurity can use Statistics to assess risk and audit the security systems of organizations. The cybersecurity industry involves tasks such as designing antivirus software as well as penetration testing and security consultancy. Information security analysts earn a median annual salary of around $100,000.
Biostatisticians are Statisticians that specialize in biological data – this includes data such as the results of clinical trials. Biostatisticians often work in the pharmaceutical industry or the healthcare industry and they earn an average salary of over $130,000 a year.
Meteorology is the study of weather and climate. Statisticians are used in the field of meteorology to analyze past weather data such as temperatures and precipitation measurements in order to make predictions for weather forecasts. A range of industries (not just weather forecasters on the TV or radio!) rely on weather reports, from emergency services and armies to travel and tourism.
Operations research is the study and examination of how organizations (such as businesses and governmental organizations) operate and the development of ideas to increase efficiency. This field can be applied to sectors such as health, technology, engineering and many more. Individuals with expertise in Statistics are highly prized in this field, and Operations Research Analysts earn a median annual salary of over $80,000.
Marketing is a highly profitable and sought-after field. Carrying out market research such as surveys and polls to collect data that is useful to businesses is usually the crucial first step and this requires a knowledge of data and statistics. A skilled Statistician will be able to interpret this data and identify trends that can help businesses to develop their marketing strategies and ultimately to profit hugely. Not only that, but Statisticians are also useful in designing digital marketing strategies due to their ability to analyze statistics such as website and social media traffic.
As mentioned earlier Statisticians are often very useful in the field of accounting. Businesses can also hire Statisticians to consult them on decisions such as where to invest resources and funds in order to guarantee the best return on investments (ROI). These businesses can range from small start-ups to multinational corporations.
The wider finance industry also benefits from statisticians. For example, the value of stocks is calculated by the use of complex Statistical procedures and analysis. Statisticians can have a huge effect on the global economy.
The median salary for a Finance Manager is around $130,000. However, this is not the only way that a knowledge of Statistics can be used in the finance industry in an incredibly lucrative way. Advanced statistical skills and thorough understanding of analysis, prediction, and statistical theory and models can give you a huge advantage if you choose to invest in stocks yourself. You could even become a stock trader and make vast sums of money—if you are willing to take the risk, that is!
To conclude, there are many ways in which choosing to study a degree in Statistics can benefit you and open up a huge number of financially profitable and intellectually rewarding career paths. With the importance and value of data increasing steadily, this field only looks set to grow. It seems most likely that having expertise and skills in Statistics will continue to be extremely valuable for the foreseeable future.
It is not just financial and intellectual rewards that studying Statistics can provide, however. Studying this field can also teach you personal and psychological skills such as logic and reasoning, that can be of great help to you in almost every aspect of your life. You can also gain insight into your fellow humans and how they behave, which can lead to improved interpersonal relationships. You can understand how media and marketing work and become less susceptible to psychological manipulation from advertisers and politicians through this understanding. Studying Statistics can help you to have a more complete understanding of the world and the way that it works.