How do I Become a Biostatistician?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 18 February 2018
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There are several ways to become a biostatistician, all of which require going to college, and ideally completing graduate level work. Biostatisticians apply statistics to topics in biology, ranging from monitoring fish populations to predicting how useful a new medication will be on the basis of its performance in clinical trials. People who pursue careers in biostatistics tend to be good at math, and interested in biology and nature.

The best way to become a biostatistician is to pursue training in a biostatistics program. Numerous colleges and universities have such programs, often linked to a school of public health, medicine, agriculture, or forestry. By pursuing training specifically in biostatistics, people can pick up some unique skills which are specific to the field, and they will have a chance to work with leading researchers in the biostatistics world. Students should plan on getting at least a master's degree in biostatistics, with doctoral degrees being even better.


Students can also opt to become a biostatistician by pursing a degree in statistics or mathematics. Getting a minor in a field of interest, such as forestry, agriculture, cell biology, veterinary science, and so forth can be useful, as it will provide the student with information which can be applied in the course of a career in biostatistics. It is important to get this grounding, as it can help people put the numbers they work with into context, and it can assist biostatisticians as they work to understand studies, clinical trials, and so forth.

Some biostatisticians work for colleges and universities, training the next generation and performing research. Others may work for pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, and healthcare advocacy organizations. Someone who wants to become a biostatistician may want to think about a particular area of interest within the larger field of biology, so that he or she can pursue internships and jobs while in school which will eventually lead to employment in this area. Someone who wants to apply biostatistics to forestry, for example, might not want to intern for a group which focuses on marine biology while in college.

Once someone has become a biostatistician, he or she can design ways to collect data, monitor ongoing data collection, collate data, review data, and analyze information so that it can be presented in meaningful ways. Like other people in the field of statistics, biostatisticians can take a large mass of data down to useful key information, such as evidence which shows that a particular method of treating a disease appears to be especially effective, and should therefore be pursued.



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