More than half of the population doesn’t understand what statistics really is, Cal Poly statistics professor Soma Roy said. This is a shame because there are so many more statistics jobs available today than there are statisticians, she said.
With a worldwide need for statistical analysis and not enough professionals in the field, the demand for statisticians is prevalent.
Statistics professor Samuel Frame said he doesn’t notice statisticians having any difficulties finding jobs, even in today’s job market.
“I think it’s pretty easy to get a job in statistics,” Frame said. “I don’t know of any of our students that necessarily have troubles.”
There are many jobs available to statisticians because statistical analysis is necessary in virtually every field, he said.
“Part of the reason is because of the need,” Frame said.
Statistics offers such a broad range of career paths; from medicine and biological statistics, to economics and finance, to research or industry and, of course, academia, he said.
Cal Poly statistics sophomore Julia Schedler already has a possible job lined up for herself after graduation. She has an internship at IMVU — an online social website that allows people from all over the world to interact. She said there is a possibility she will be hired full time upon her graduation. The only question is if she should go to graduate school and get her Ph.D. first.
Approximately 50 percent of students go to graduate school, while the other 50 percent get jobs right out of college, Roy said.
Being a statistician provides a comfortable living, too, she said. Statisticians generally earn a starting salary of about $50,000 a year. That’s nearly twice as much as the average college graduate. At more high-end positions, statisticians can make around $350,000 a year.
Many people refrain from exploring statistics as a possible career path due to their misunderstanding of what the subject is all about, Roy said. Students often associate statistics with math and computations. In reality, the job of a statistician is more applied than math.
While math skills certainly help with the profession, the point of statistics is more to interpret the numbers and analyze data previously collected, Roy said. Students get so intimidated by the numbers they shy away from the option all together, she said.
“If students had earlier exposure to statistics in high school, they might have a better understanding of what statistics really is and, therefore, be more prone to declare it as their major,” Roy said.
Statistical analysis also helps society on a daily basis.
“It gives people the tools to make decisions based on evidence rather than anecdotal stories,” Frame said.
Statisticians might have even been able to help out with the recession, Frame said. Statistical analysts looks at leading indicators of a recession; they wouldn’t have been able to stop it, but it definitely would have helped, he said.
Statisticians have an insulated job, Frame said. There is not a lot that could change the job market for statistics due to the heavy demand for statisticians. He said the career is fairly resistant to the economic recession.
“People could’ve been more aware of how severe it was going to get and how long it would last,” Frame said.
Even during deep recessions, statistics remains a thriving field of work due to the high demand for statisticians, Frame said. He said the career path is definitely resistant to economic downturn.
That being said, the statistics department is still one of the smallest majors on campus. There are only 70 statistics majors and minors on campus. Only 14 statistic majors graduated from Cal Poly in June 2011.
The department is growing, Frame said. There are more than twice as many majors as when he graduated from Cal Poly. The statistics industry as a whole is growing as well, he said.
“People are becoming more aware of the importance of statistics,” Frame said.
There are five times as many statistics minors than years past as people begin to realize that having a minor in statistics is attractive to employers, he said.
Both Roy and Frame said they expect only growth in the department.
“Any change, I think, would be a positive thing,” Frame said.
This article was written by Taylor Phillips.
Editor’s Note: This article originally stated statistics sophomore Julia Schedler had an internship with IMU. The actual business is IMVU. It has been corrected in the article above. We apologize for any confusion.