Biostatistician: Job Description & Career Info
Biostatisticians typically have a master's or doctorate degree in biostatistics or a related field, such as mathematics or biology. These statisticians work as academics in the biomedical field analyzing the effects of treatments, environmental conditions, and other factors on living things.
Biostatistician Job Description
Biostatisticians may work on healthcare-related topics in the public or private sector. This may include performing research for a government agency or setting the statistical parameters for a new study by a pharmaceutical company. Work generally takes place in an office setting, but may extend into the field.
Daily duties for research or pharmaceutical biostatisticians may include analyzing genetic data and disease occurrence. This information may be used in developing clinical trials to assess drug treatments. Academic and government biostatisticians may review data of populations exposed to environmental chemicals and conditions to understand the risks and effects. For example, they may be required to analyze the impact of oil spills on the environment.
Starting a Career in Biostatistics
A bachelor's degree is sufficient for entering the field of biostatistics; however, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that advanced work typically requires a Master of Science (M.S.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biostatistics, Mathematics, or Statistics (www.bls.gov). Aspiring biostatisticians attending a school that doesn't offer a biostatistics undergraduate degree, may consider completing a bachelor's degree program in statistics or applied mathematics. Programs may include coursework in developing population samples, computer modeling, and data analysis.
M.S. and Ph.D. curriculum generally offer more specific and advanced courses including the design and completion of a biomedical study. Students may be required to outline their methods and present their study findings.
Career and Economic Outlook for Biostatistics
The continued growth of the pharmaceutical field will generate a large share of the demand for biostatisticians, according to the BLS. The bureau reports that jobs for statisticians as a whole were expected to grow by 14% between 2010 and 2020. As of November 2013, Salary.com notes the median salary for entry-level biostatisticians was $76,378. Workers in the 25th-75th percentile range earned $63,617 to $82,435 per year.
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