What does the career entail?
Statistics is an independent discipline with interdisciplinary applications and it is commissioned by all disciplines where it contributes towards scientific and technological progress. Statistics is the art and science of collecting, organising, analysing, interpreting and presenting quantitative and qualitative data for the purpose of drawing scientifically founded conclusions. Statisticians apply statistical methods and models in all types of scientific research, which among others include Marketing Management, Communication Management, Tourism Management, Financial Management, Business Management, Investment Management, Human Resources Management, Economics, Agricultural Economics and Medical Science.
The work of a statistician can be divided into two broad categories:
· Academic (research) statistics: Exceptional mathematical ability is needed for student training, conducting statistical research in a specialised field and developing or refining of theories.
· Applied (practical) statistics: Planning and conducting of experiments or projects to collect and analyse information from various disciplines.
Career opportunities are widely advertised in the media and on official websites, eg. the website of the South African Statistical Association (www.sastat.org.za).
Skills that are needed for the career
Statisticians are expected to possess proficiency in a multitude of skills.
A statistician must:
- have a strong numerical background as well as a preference for working with figures;
- be able to reason logically;
- have a well-developed sense for planning and analysing problems in order to take on and solve problems outside the field of experience;
- be able to interact and co-operate well with professionals from various disciplines;
- be able to express ideas and views in simple and clear language, both verbally and in writing;
- be able to master computer programming and the use of various software packages.
Challenges of the career
Statisticians are faced daily with a wide variety of challenges such as:
- providing important information to governments, companies or professions to assist them in planning for the future;
- working within a large variety of subjects and projects;
- mastering computer programming and the use of various software packages;
- taking on and solving problems outside the field of experience;
- testifying and providing evidence in court cases;
- accurate report writing.