Data Analyst-Statistician

The Job and What's Involved

As a statistician or data analyst, you would collect and analyse numerical information, and present your results in the form of graphs, charts, diagrams, tables and reports. It would be your job to identify trends and create models in order to forecast or estimate what might happen in the future.

Your work as a statistician could be used in a number of areas, including:

- Local and national government
- Market research
- Business, finance and insurance
- NHS management
- Crime analysis and forensics
- Education

In the public sector you could work for government agencies, research councils, and universities. Working for the government, for example, you might collect, analyse and publish information on population trends, the economy, the labour market, transport and crime. The information you produce would then be used to advise ministers and inform the press and the wider population.

In other industries or sectors, you might be involved in:

  • Looking for trends and patterns to help companies make business decisions.
  • Analysing market research and trends in consumer feedback
    opinion polling.
  • Predicting demand for services or goods.
  • Checking quality control standards in areas such as drug and food testing.

Your work would typically be office-based but might involve travelling to other locations to collect data. You would generally work around 40 hours a week, and occasionally longer to meet project deadlines.

Starting salaries for assistant statisticians can be between £20,000 and £27,000 a year. With experience this can rise to around £40,000 to £53,000.

Chief statisticians can earn up to £70,000.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

The Government Statistical Services (GSS) is the biggest recruiter of statisticians in the UK, with over 1,000 staff in the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and other government departments.

The UK Statistics Authority website, that deals with recruitment on behalf of the GSS, states the only recruitment scheme taking place within the GSS is for Fast-Stream Assistant Statisticians. There is a complete recruitment ban for Statistical Officers for the forseeable future.

However, you may be able to find opportunities in universities, research institutes, the NHS, the pharmaceutical industry and in business.

Education and Training

For most jobs in statistics you will need a degree in statistics, mathematics or another numerate subject such as economics, operational research, psychology or a medical science.

To get on to a maths-based degree course, you will usually need five GCSEs (A-C) plus at least two A levels including maths. Check with colleges or universities for exact entry requirements. You can search for degree courses through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website.

Some four-year, 'sandwich' degree courses include a year in the workplace. The experience you gain during this time could give you an advantage when applying for work. The Civil Service website includes further advice on work experience and sandwich placement opportunities.

As an alternative to a degree, you could take a qualification such as the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) Graduate Diploma in Statistics.

Some employers may also prefer you to have a postgraduate qualification (such as a Masters degree or PhD) and knowledge of statistical software packages (for example, Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS)).

The Government Statistical Service (GSS) runs a Fast-Stream Assistant Statistician recruitment scheme for high calibre graduates with a first or second class honours degree in a numerate subject. The GSS also recruits graduates (and those with equivalent and relevant experience) into the roles of statistical officer and temporary statistical officer, which can be a route into a permanent job in statistics.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

As a new statistician, you would typically receive on-the-job training from your employer and work under the supervision of experienced staff in preparation for taking on your own projects and more responsibility.

You may also be encouraged to work towards Royal Statistical Society (RSS) qualifications, which are available at three levels: Ordinary Certificate, Higher Certificate and Graduate Diploma.

The RSS also awards Chartered Statistician (CStat) status to people with an honours degree or higher degree in statistics, plus at least four years' practical experience. See the RSS website for details.

If you do not already have a postgraduate qualification, you could study on a part-time basis towards a relevant Masters degree or PhD.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A Data Analyst-Statistician needs:

  • A high level of mathematical ability.
  • Good IT skills.
  • The ability to analyse and interpret data.
  • Strong problem solving skills.
  • A methodical and logical approach.
  • The ability to plan work and meet deadlines.
  • A high level of accuracy and attention to detail.
  • Good interpersonal skills to work as part of a team.
  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills.

Your Long Term Prospects

Outside the GSS, companies are likely to employ only a few statisticians, so you may need to change employers to further your career.

With experience, you could progress into management, move into academic research, or choose to work as a freelance consultant.

Get Further Information

Royal Statistical Society (RSS)
12 Errol Street, London EC1Y 8LX
Tel: 020 7638 8998
Website: www.rss.org.uk

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