Biostatistician: Job and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for Biostatisticians. Get the facts about job duties, education requirements, and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Bioinformatics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Biostatistician?

Biostatisticians analyze numerical data to improve the healthcare industry; for example, they may help determine how hospitals can lessen emergency room waiting times or how well new treatments fight cancer. They might work for hospitals, public health agencies, or pharmaceutical companies. Their tasks typically include three steps: determining which statistical information will answer a specific problem or question, collecting that information efficiently, and creating analysis reports of the results. To complete these tasks, they might make use of complex computer software, and should also have some medical knowledge in order to fully understand the purpose or goal of their work. Read on to learn more about biostatistician jobs.

Degree Required Master's or doctoral degree in biostatistics
Education Field of Study Complex statistical analysis
Key Skills Designing, implementing and analyzing statistical studies that benefit medical science and public health research
Median Salary (2015) $80,110*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will My Job as a Biostatistician Entail?

Your job as a biostatistician will involve designing, implementing and analyzing statistical studies that benefit medical science and public health research. For example, you could conclude if a new medicine is effective or if there are long-term side effects of a medical procedure. To complete your work, you'd first decide on the necessary sample size, establish how data are to be gathered and determine governing parameters. Then you might collect the data or oversee a research team, ensuring the scientific rigor and integrity of the process. Finally, you'd analyze the data, which could involve extensive processing and modeling.

To work as a biostatistician, you need a strong science and math background. You may be required to work with large data sets that test your logic skills and patience. Additionally, you may find inconsistencies in the data or unexpected results, so it's helpful if you're detail-oriented.

What Salary Is Possible?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 25th-to-75th percentile salary range for statisticians, including biostatisticians, was $59,750 - $104,390 in May 2015. The median wage was $80,110.

What Training Is Necessary?

For most biostatistician jobs, you'll need to earn a master's or doctoral degree in biostatistics. Many universities offer graduate degree programs specifically in biostatistics, while others offer it as a concentration through a statistics or public health degree program. Both master's and doctoral degree programs include coursework in complex statistical analysis. You may learn about multivariate analysis, longitudinal data analysis, Bayesian statistical analysis or inverse probability weighting.

It's possible for you to find entry-level work after completing a bachelor's degree in biostatistics. Though biostatistics programs are not common, you can find many undergraduate programs in statistics that include coursework in the subject. Programs typically include broad, foundational training in applied statistics, calculus and probability.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

The healthcare industry is not the only job market which makes use of statisticians. The government employs statisticians to collect data about the people it represents. For example, statisticians working for the BLS compile data about employment numbers, mean and median wages by occupation and industry, and ten year predictions on occupational outlooks. Statisticians are also needed within companies for research programs which test new products or analyze the profitability of a product on the market. These statisticians sometimes go by other names, such as data analysts or market research analysts.

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