Biostatisticians are math professionals who work in the medical and pharmaceuticals industries. They test drugs, identify sources of illness and disease, design research studies, and analyze and report data. They must have in-depth knowledge of higher mathematics such as algebra, calculus and statistics, as well as skills in critical thinking, science, writing and computer programming. Biostatisticians must have life sciences backgrounds, and most have master's, doctoral or professional degrees.
Biostatistician graduates can expect to earn more in teaching positions and with doctorates versus master's degrees. The median starting salary for biostatistician graduates in assistant faculty positions in the U.S. in 2009 was $107,000 a year, according to a salary survey by the American Statistical Association. Median starting salaries for nonfaculty biostatisticians were $57,400 and $87,200 for those with doctorates.
Training and Education:
High school math and science are important preparation for a career as a biostatistician. Statistics, mathematics, science and computer coursework are required for advanced education in statistics. Entry-level biostatistician positions need at least a bachelor's degree with a major in applied mathematics. For higher level opportunities, you'll need a master's degree or doctorate in biostatistics with related coursework, internships or fellowships in biostatistics, public health, economics and related areas.
Top-paying industries for biostatisticians in 2011 included financial, government, and pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing. The top-paying areas in 2011 were the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Maryland, Alaska and West Virginia. Top-paying cities included Bethesda, Maryland; Framingham, Massachusetts; San Diego; Edison, New York; and New Haven, Connecticut.
A shortage of biostatisticians was noted in a report to the president and Congress about U.S. health personnel, the ASA says. The association reports that job prospects are excellent for new biostatistics graduates with master's and doctorates.