Finding a Statistical Job
This is a general guide for people who are currently seeking employment of a statistical nature, or thinking about doing so. A PDF version (about 100 KB) of this guide, suitable for printing, canbe downloaded. For our other guides, please see the Careers in Statistics homepage.
Looking for suitable employment is often a difficult task, but the rewards can be lifelong! You need to consider your options very carefully, so that you make the right decision for you. With this in mind, you should always leave yourself plenty of time to look for a position, statistical or otherwise, so that you need not make any hasty decisions. Several months before you require work, you should begin preparing yourself for applying for jobs. First, you should bring your CV up to date, or write it from scratch if you have not already done so. Our website contains a list of internet sites giving advice on CV writing. Then look for sources of job advertisements for your preferred career. And discuss your plans with a careers adviser if possible.
Remember that few people are successful with their first job application - do not get downhearted if you are not offered the first (or second, or third ...) job that you have applied for. Indeed, you could find that you would not wish to accept some jobs you have applied for. This might well be the outcome of an interview, which can be just as much the process of you interviewing the organisation as them interviewing you. Or you might be able to tell it from the further particulars that are usually made available to applicants, which give far more information than can be included in a job advertisement. These are just some of the reasons why you need to start applying as early as possible.
What range of statistical jobs is typically available?
The short answer is a WIDE range!
Statistical jobs can take different forms. There are, of course, permanent positions. But there is also temporary work of various kinds, including quite highly responsible professional work on short-term contracts. In addition, students (and others) are likely to be interested in summer work.
As demonstrated on our website, statistics has many application areas, such as health, biology, industry, government and education, to name just a few! Links to in-depth details on a number of statistical careers are provided on our Careers in Statistics homepage.
What qualifications are typically required?
It is possible to enter a statistical career as a school leaver, perhaps by becoming a statistical assistant and working up through an organisation with on-the-job training. Reasonably good school-leaving qualifications are likely to be required, particularly in mathematics and in English (statisticians do not only have to be able to count, they also have to be able to write good and well-argued reports on their findings!).
However, serious recruitment to the profession of statistician is usually at graduate or even post-graduate level. Recruitment for most of the careers discussed on our website is likely to be at this level - most organisations mainly recruit graduates. So most prospective statisticians get a degree first. Please see our page for prospective undergraduates or our page for prospective postgraduates for further details about degrees in or involving statistics.
A major employer at graduate level is the government statistical service and there are corresponding opportunities in many branches of local government and government agencies. More generally, employment of graduate statisticians is widespread throughout industry, business and commerce, in both the private and public sectors.
People holding MSc degrees in statistics are also much sought by employers. For example, the pharmaceutical industry is a major employer that commonly looks for an MSc qualification - though we should add that it does not always do so; it also recruits at BSc level, but will often then expect (or sometimes even sponsor) the employee to obtain an MSc. Other opportunities for holders of MSc degrees arise in medical statistics and in medical research organisations, in large industrial companies and in many other places.
Holders of PhD degrees are also in great demand. A PhD would usually be necessary to enter and pursue a career in university teaching and research, but holders of PhD degrees are also commonly snapped up by other organisations such as, just for examples, banks and financial institutions. However, we should say that a PhD degree is not often a required qualification for a statistical job, except in universities.
None of the above rules out people who are seeking a career change and perhaps have only a few formal qualifications in statistics or even none at all. Many employers are very happy to consider applications from such people, who will bring their own skills and usually have great commitment and maturity. See our page aimed at career changers for further details.
Where can I find advertisements for statistical jobs?
As we have said above, you should begin to look for job opportunities as soon as possible. If you are currently at university, one of your first ports of call should be the university careers service, who will be able to supply you with a great deal of invaluable advice and information. Likewise, if you are still at school and thinking of entering a statistical career as a school leaver, see the school careers adviser. If you are not at school or university, you might like to consider talking to a representative of your local careers advice centre.
There are various places where statistical jobs are routinely advertised. A key example is the monthly newsletter of the Royal Statistical Society, RSS NEWS. This is issued free to all members of the Society. Electronic mailing lists such as Allstat also regularly advertise statistical job opportunities - further internet resources are given on our job advertisements links page. Job advertisements are also often carried in the "quality" newspapers - often one particular day each week is set aside for "professional" jobs of this kind. Some specialist newspapers are also especially important for particular careers; for example, aspiring school teachers should always look in the Times Educational Supplement, and the Times Higher Education Supplement is likewise important for careers in universities.
Again - remember to apply early! We really cannot stress this point too much.
Where can I find general careers advice?
Again, if at all possible, do make use of the careers advice services that are open to you. There are also several internet sites that focus on general careers advice, and you may wish to consult some of these for ideas. We have tried to compile a list of sites focusing on the following areas: CV writing, interview skills, organisations providing general advice. No doubt you can also find books on these topics in public libraries.
If you have any general questions about careers in statistics (e.g. the range of careers available, typical qualifications required) that we have not answered sufficiently on this site, we are happy to try to answer them - though please look at our careers homepage first and follow all the links that might be of interest. Please note that we cannot comment on your CV, provide in-depth details on any specific job, or offer you employment in any way. General questions (only) can be sent to email@example.com.