Statisticians have skills used in many corporate environments. For example, the government uses statisticians to determine whether products are safe for the public, such as in automobile safety testing. Statisticians also help insurance companies determine who is a good risk and what to charge to cover different risk levels. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for statisticians was $72,830 per year as of 2010.
Statisticians crunch numbers for a living, but the numbers have to come from somewhere. In many cases, statisticians set up their own surveys or sampling techniques, making sure they can collect measurable data. You probably won't conduct the surveys yourself; instead, you manage other staff members who collect the requested data.
When the data is collected, statisticians roll up their sleeves and start turning the data into meaningful numbers. As a statistician, you might need to know what percentage of women saw a decrease in wrinkles using a new cream or how many bad checks makes a bank customer a bad risk. You must take the data and arrange it so that it reflects the information in a way others can understand. You also must decide which findings are important and which ones are either skewed or can't be calculated based on the collected data.
Look for Trends
Many statistical projects are long-term, helping companies spot trends in behavior, sales or other areas. For example, a government agency might need numbers for the past 20 years regarding traffic flow in a large city to determine which areas need more lanes, for example. Even if you didn't collect all the data, you must be able to sort through it to spot trends.
Share the Information
A key component of a statistician's job is sharing the information with others, including company management and the public. This can be as simple as creating graphs to add to a slide presentation or as complicated as giving a day-long explanation to government officials with pages and pages of backup material. You spend a good bit of time behind a computer, but you must also be comfortable explaining your findings in layman's terms to large and small groups.
Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.