A statistician is responsible for the collation, evaluation, interpretation and presentation of quantitative data. Statisticians provide insights, recommendations, and advice on policy and strategy to internal or external clients.
The scope of a statistician’s responsibilities include the monitoring of data collection and the use of mathematical and statistical modelling, as well as the presentation of findings and recommendations to clients, providing strategic advice in what to do with the results.
The Governmental Statistical Service (GSS) is UK’s largest recruiter of statisticians, providing over 1,500 statisticians in the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and 30 other government entities around the country.
The NHS also employs a substantial number of medical statisticians. Other public sector research councils and overseas entities which recruit statisticians include Eurostat, Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Health Protection Agency (HPA).
Salary & benefits
Annual compensation and benefits packages for statistician roles vary widely, based on the size, type and sector in which employers operate. These are generally higher in private and commercial enterprises than in the government and public sectors.
Average starting salaries range between £20,000 and £40,000 for statisticians with under ten years of work experience, and between £35,000 and £75,000 for employees with more years under their belts.
Standard benefits such as pensions and health insurance are also provided by the majority of employers.
Working hours and schedules are not fixed or rigid, as long as the minimum number of working hours is logged. Work is mainly office-based, with some travel for attending industry-level conferences and seminars.
Statisticians may work alone in the medical and healthcare sector, while those employed by pharmaceutical or financial services companies work as part of a team.
Statisticians with considerable experience and specialist expertise can choose to set up their own practice or operate on a freelance basis.
Statistician positions are available in both private and public sectors. Industry segments where statisticians are in demand include: education, healthcare and life sciences, pharmaceuticals, banking, finance and insurance, market and operational research, civil/government service, research and development, manufacturing and industrial, and consultancy firms.
Eligibility requirements are categorised on the basis of industry sector and type of employer. Some employers will hire statisticians with just an undergraduate degree, while others may insist upon postgraduate or doctorate degrees.
Irrespective of the degree level, subjects which are preferred include economics, finance, mathematics, statistics, or any other similar subjects with a strong focus on numerical and analytical reasoning.
Training & progression
Training is mainly undertaken while on the job and through self-learning, with resources and materials available both in-house and externally.
Professional qualifications or advanced degree studies are necessary for career progression up the organisational hierarchy. Professional qualifications are administered by the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) for the profession as a whole, and industry-specific qualifications are provided by entities such as Statisticians in the Pharmaceutical Industry (PSI).
The RSS also confers ‘chartered’ status for professionals with documented work experience of five years and more, allowing the use of Chartered Statistician (CStat) as a designation, which is pretty damn cool.