Why Should Your Child Study Statistics?
In 2009, Google’s chief economist Hal Varian told The New York Times, “I keep saying that the sexy job in the next 10 years will be statisticians. And I’m not kidding.” Interest in the field has only increased since Varian’s remarks as word has spread about the field’s good pay and abundance of interesting and meaningful opportunities. In fact, Fortune magazine recently reported that statistics is the fastest-growing STEM degree. Yet the field continues to be a fairly well-kept secret, despite its perks, making jobs in statistics more plentiful than the number of skilled people who can do them.
So why should your child study statistics? Put simply, to pursue a career that’s fun but also provides a good return on your education investment.
Salaries in statistics are high and job growth is strong.
Which Sectors Employ Statisticians?
A Better Question Is Which Sectors Don’t Employ Them.
There’s a good chance your child can apply statistics in whatever field he or she is interested in, from making smarter software to developing safer drugs. Here is a snapshot of select places where statisticians work and what they do.
Health and Medicine
Pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Eli Lilly employ statisticians to help them develop new drugs that are safe and effective. They often work on teams with doctors and research scientists to design and execute experiments and clinical trials. They also work for agencies that regulate drugs, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Statisticians can find many opportunities to work with animals. Many collaborate with other scientists to find ways to protect endangered species and increase their populations, for example. Such statisticians might work for a large zoo, a research institute like the National Science Foundation or a nonprofit organization like the World Wildlife Fund.
To combat diseases like breast cancer and HIV/AIDS, scientists must understand how prevalent such conditions are among various populations and why. Statisticians perform this work for a variety of public health organizations and government agencies, including the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Business and Technology
From Apple to Oracle and Google to Microsoft, statisticians work at a variety of technology companies to advance the computing industry, from ensuring reliability of hardware components to improving the quality of speech recognition and image analysis software applications.
Why are some plants more resistant to disease than others? What is the impact of pesticides on crop production and the environment? Statisticians work with teams of experts to answer questions like these at organizations such as Archer Daniels Midland, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
Statisticians are critical to helping companies understand consumer tastes and preferences so products can be more effectively marketed. They gather and analyze data that helps guide the marketing strategies of global brands like Coca-Cola and multinational consumer products companies like P&G.
Public Policy and Government
Humanitarian aid and development organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation conduct studies led by statisticians and other experts that influence decisions about where and how aid is allocated to places afflicted by poverty, disease, conflict or stagnant growth.
Education and Labor
The work of statisticians at government agencies like the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor can lead to a wide variety of policy changes, from easing college tuition costs to enacting legislation to increase the minimum wage.
Economy and Society
Statisticians at agencies like the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Justice Statistics gather and analyze data about the U.S. population and economy that impact policy decisions such as how to draw up legislative districts, lower prisoner recidivism rates, and allocate federal funds to state and local governments for services related to education, health care and transportation.