Careers in statistics
Published on: Monday, July 19, 2021
By: K Krishnan
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EVERY day when you see the news, you hear about how many people were affected by Covid-19.  The day to day figures may vary. It can shoot up or go down. You have the national figure and the state figure. The figures tell you how many positive cases have been identified. 

It also tells you how many people have died and how many have recovered. The numbers are very important for the government to make decisions or for new policies. It is also important for businesses which are struggling to make ends meet. 

It is also important for students who want to know when schools are going to re-start. Who maintains these figures? How do we get these figures day to day? Who are behind all these figures? 

Yes, people who collect, compile and analyse these figures are called Statisticians. They play a very important role in our lives. You value their contributions, especially now during Covid-19. 

Who are statisticians? 

They develop or apply statistical theory and methods to collect, organise, interpret, and summarise numerical data to provide usable information. May specialise in fields such as biostatistics, agricultural statistics, business statistics, or economic statistics. 

Often they are called as Demographers, Mathematical Statisticians, Psychometric Consultants, Quantitative Methodologists, Research Scientists, Researchers, Statistical Analysts, Statistical Consultants, Statistical Reporting Analysts or Statisticians.

What do Statisticians do? 

They may do a variety of things depending on where they work, such as:-
  1. Analyze and interpret statistical data to identify significant differences in relationships among sources of information. 
  2. They may identify relationships and trends in data, as well as any factors that could affect the results of research.
  3. They may determine whether statistical methods are appropriate, based on user needs or research questions of interest.
  4. They prepare data for processing by organizing information, checking for inaccuracies, and adjusting and weighting the raw data.
  5.  Lastly, they may present statistical and non-statistical results, using charts, bullets, and graphs, in meetings or conferences to audiences such as clients, peers, and students.

You would have noticed on TV, the Director General of Health or senior ministers updating us daily on the situation of the current epidemic and how it is spreading throughout the country. The figures that they quote are all based on statistics.  

What Knowledge do you need? 

Generally if you have an interest for Mathematics, this career may interest you. You may have considered pursuing a career in Accountancy, Auditing or Actuarial Science. But you can also consider Statistics. The knowledge you require includes:-
  1. Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  2. Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  3. Knowledge of computing, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming. 

What skills do you need? 

(a) Mathematics – Using mathematics to solve problems.

(b) Critical Thinking – Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

(c)    Reading Comprehension – Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

(d) ‘Active Listening – Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

(e) Complex Problem Solving – Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

What qualifications do you need? 

Statisticians typically need at least a master’s degree in mathematics or statistics. However, some positions are available to those with a bachelor’s degree.

Students who are interested in becoming statisticians should take as many math courses as possible in school.

Statisticians typically have a degree in mathematics, economics, or a related field. Students majoring in statistics also may take courses in another field, such as computer science, life sciences, or physical sciences. These courses may help prepare students to work in a variety of industries. For example, coursework in biology, chemistry, or health sciences is useful for testing pharmaceutical or agricultural products. Physics may be useful for statisticians working in manufacturing on quality improvement.

Where to study?

If you are interested in studying Statistics you may want to check out the following universities in Malaysia:

- Universiti Malaya (UM)

- Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)

- Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM)

For further information:

Students who want to know about statisticians can contact Institute Staistics Malaysia, which is one of the professional bodies for Statisticians. For further information browse through www.instatmalaysia.com. 


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