Learn About Being a Biostatistician


What is Biostatistician

Biostatisticians help answer a growing number of questions related to human health. From making sure that the right tests are being used to guide clinical trials to analyzing the results of medical and public health research, biostatisticians have many responsibilities. In this article, we’ll explore what a biostatistician does and the specific fields of study that will give you a head start in becoming a biostatistician.

What Does a Biostatistician Do?

Learn About Being a Biostatistician - Best School News

A biostatistician studies and works with statistics to understand how the body and the environment affect human health and behaviour. Because biostatistics is a broad field with many sub-disciplines, the job of a biostatistician can often seem like a cross between a statistician and a doctor. The biostatistician uses all of the tools of statistics to study human health and disease, including data analysis, synthesis and presentation. Because biostatistics is about so much more than just measuring things, a biostatistician has specialised knowledge and expertise that can help people understand their own health and health care preferences.

Biostatisticians are specialists that collect and analyze data from living organisms. They work mainly with data gathered via medical research, which they use to formulate conclusions and make predictions. Biostatisticians work in a specialized field of statistics known as biostatistics. This field involves the study of data related to living things. Biostatisticians routinely perform the following tasks:

  • Work with data scientists and other statisticians to develop and implement research studies

  • Ensure accurate clinical trial results by monitoring the implementation of research studies

  • Write research proposals based on collected data

  • Present research findings to the scientific community

  • Divide their time between classroom instruction, research and fieldwork (for those working as teachers or university instructors)

Average salary

Biostatisticians are typically full-time employees. The salary they earn will depend on their education and related experience. The type, size and geographical location of their company can also affect salary.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $108,660 per year

  • Some salaries range from $34,000 to $224,000 per year.

Biostatistician requirements

Those interested in becoming biostatisticians should gain a combination of skills and experience to excel in the role:

Education

Most biostatisticians have a master’s or doctoral degree. Before earning these degrees, aspiring biostatisticians have to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Biostatistics, Statistics or Math from an accredited university. Medicine and biology courses are also useful for future specialization.

Most biostatisticians opt to earn a master’s degree or doctorate to ensure more rewarding employment opportunities. A master’s degree or doctorate helps improve a candidate’s chances of specialization and career advancement in the future. Higher education also gives them valuable research and presentation experience.

Training

During education, biostatisticians will complete internships to get hands-on field experience. Internships can help students learn more about the different tools and processes they’ll need to apply in their roles as biostatisticians. They can undergo internships in many different fields depending on their interests.

Most companies prefer hiring biostatisticians who already have extensive experience in a relevant field of specialization. Experienced candidates are typically familiar with established analysis methods and applicable regulations and know what the job entails. On-the-job training may include learning any specialized software or computer programs the company uses and any specific processes or procedures they should follow.

Entry-level jobs provide biostatisticians with the experience required for clinical statistics or other advanced fields of specialization. There are many entry-level positions available to those with bachelor’s degrees in the biomedical or pharmaceutical industries, including hospitals, universities and pharmaceutical firms. Biostatisticians may work in entry-level positions as:

  • Consultants

  • Statisticians

  • Research assistants

  • Clinical research coordinators

Certifications

Biostatisticians typically do not have special licensing or certification requirements. However, they may obtain the following accreditation credentials from the American Statistical Association:

Accredited Professional Statistician

This signifies educational and professional experience and a commitment to professional ethics and continuing education. To earn a PStat certification, you must submit your resume, professional references, proof of five years’ experience in statistics and examples of professional development activities.

Graduate Statistician

This signifies the dedication of students and new statisticians to the statistics community. You must submit your resume and relevant coursework to earn a GStat.

Skills

Biostatisticians need several personal and professional skills that will enable them to do their jobs more effectively and qualify for advanced fields of specialization:

  • Communication: Biostatisticians frequently interact with scientists, medical professionals and other statisticians. Communication skills will enable them to present data and research results more effectively.

  • Problem-solving: The ability to identify problems and to propose and implement feasible solutions is essential for biostatisticians working on research teams and with pharmaceutical corporations.

  • Critical thinking: Biostatisticians do more than just collect data. They should also be able to analyze and use the information they gather to help achieve the goals of the research team or organization.

  • Ability to work with minimal supervision: Biostatisticians often perform lab or fieldwork while isolated from the other team members. They should complete tasks with little to no supervision.

  • Adaptability: This ability allows biostatisticians to quickly learn new technology and advancements. These skills are especially useful for biostatisticians who wish to enter the fast-paced pharmaceutical industry.

Biostatistician work environment

Most biostatisticians maintain full-time schedules with regular business hours. They sometimes work overtime, especially when trying to meet a deadline for a research project.

Biostatisticians may work in many different organizations, including:

  • Private corporations

  • Research foundations

  • Educational institutions

  • Government agencies

Some of the characteristics of a biostatistician’s typical work environment are:

  • Sitting at a desk while working with computers

  • Using specialized software programs for statistical analysis and lab research

  • Working as part of a team that includes other research professionals

  • Collaborating with scientists and data researchers

  • Communicating with other professionals via phone, email or in-person

  • Performing lab work or classroom instruction (university-based biostatisticians)

How to become a biostatistician

Though there is no direct path to becoming a biostatistician, you can follow these basic steps:

1. Obtain a bachelor’s degree

Earning a bachelor’s degree is usually the first step toward becoming a biostatistician. If you plan to earn a postgraduate degree, it is best to major in statistics or biology. It is advisable to take classes in probability theory, experimental design and regression analysis. It is also helpful to choose elective courses in biostatistics. Relevant coursework includes statistical mathematics, applied survival analysis, stochastic processes and data mining.

2. Complete a master’s degree program

Most biostatistics jobs beyond entry-level positions require candidates to have a master’s degree or another postgraduate degree. Master’s degree programs usually take two years to complete. With most master’s degree programs, the final requirement is a written exam or thesis.

Master’s degree programs educate and train students in different data analysis methods, including categorical, longitudinal and survival data. These programs also provide instruction on techniques such as regression and variance analysis. Other subjects can include statistical computing, probability and epidemiology.

3. Obtain an entry-level job

An entry-level job could provide many opportunities for added learning and real-world experience. If you are interested in a career in research and development biostatistics, it is advisable to choose entry-level positions in fields such as pharmaceutical development, medical research, public health, epidemiology or environmental science. You may also consider entry-level positions in internet data research, business data analysis and agriculture.

4. Get a doctorate

Getting a doctorate is advisable for biostatisticians who wish to enter the pharmaceutical industry. Further education beyond a master’s degree provides aspiring biostatisticians with better job opportunities and improves their chances of becoming a senior biostatistician.

Senior research biostatisticians typically work for government agencies, private corporations and research foundations. They may also obtain tenure in a major research university. Those with extensive backgrounds in advanced statistics and mathematics may even enroll in a biostatistics Ph.D. program.

Biostatistician job description example

ACME Industries is looking for a biostatistician to fill a staff research position in a private pharmaceutical research firm. Daily tasks include conducting research, defining parameters and methodologies for new studies, analyzing genetic data and monitoring disease rates. Successful candidates will be responsible for developing and implementing targeted statistical studies to enhance medical knowledge and improve research efforts in the pharmaceutical industry. Applicants should have a Bachelor’s Degree in Biostatistics, Statistics or Math, and preferably have two years of professional or internship experience in a relevant field.

Conclusion

A career in biostatistics is a great way to use your scientific training to help people. You will use your knowledge of statistics and data analysis to help people understand how the environment and their diet may be contributing to disease and how they can take measures to avoid getting sick. You will also use your knowledge of law and business to help people understand their health and the health care they can get.

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