If you are a high school or college student who loves science and math but doesn’t particularly want to work with patients or go into finance, then a career as a biostatistician might be right for you. Here is what a biostatistician does, followed by the job outcome and educational requirements to break into the field.
Biostatistics is a science where professionals collect, analyze and interpret conclusions for data. It requires an understanding of statistical theory and application to work out issues within biological and health science organizations. In fact, biostatistics is typically found under a university’s public health or medical departments.
Biostatistician Job Description
Biostatisticians typically address healthcare topics, either in the private or public sectors, and work in an office environment. Some project categories include conducting research or defining parameters for a new study. On a day-to-day basis, pharmaceutical biostatisticians might analyze genetic data and disease rates. They use this information to design clinical trials to evaluate new drugs. Academic and government policy biostatisticians study populations exposed to harmful chemicals to determine their overall effects. This might include an oil spill or toxic runoff.
A biostatistician is expected to design, analyze, and implement targeted statistical studies, which are geared to further medical knowledge and the improve research efforts in public health. For example, by compiling and analyzing the outcomes of medical procedures, they can report any known side effects to those who undergo the procedure in the future. First, a sample size is determined, data collection methodology is defined and parameters are set. Then, the data has to be collected by the biostatistician or other researchers. During the entire process, the scientific method is followed. The hardest part is sifting through the data with advanced processing tools requiring a high degree of expertise and training.
With a biostatics degree, you can seek employment as a statistician in a non-medical government or corporate position. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, for instance, hires statisticians to compute the unemployment rate, average wages in different industries, and long-term job outlooks. Some statisticians work with corporations to analyze products and data using similar methodologies as biostatisticians.
Biostatistician Job Outlook and Salary
In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that biostatisticians made about $84,440 on average, while those in pharmaceuticals averaged $94,740. More recent Salary.com searches yielded an average salary of 169,000, largely dependent on education and experience.
Most positions require a master’s or doctoral degree in biostatistics. It’s possible to get a job with a bachelor’s degree in biostatistics, but it’s sometimes hard to find a program at that level intensive enough to lead to a direct hire position.
Biostatistician Education and Projected Demand
- Required Education: Master’s degree
M.S. and Ph.D. curricula generally offer more targeted courses, such as designing and conducting a medical study. Students can gain valuable presentation skills and learn how to communicate their ideas and conclusions clearly. Salary goes up with the level of education, so a Ph.D. yields higher salaries and better growth within existing jobs. The projected job growth for a Biostatistician between 2014-2024 is estimated to be 34% for biostatisticians, well above the growth of most job types.