Why Statistics?

Statistics provides a strong career path with excellent opportunities, and statisticians are in high demand. Statistics is a branch of mathematics which involves collecting and analyzing data to estimate, model or predict real world phenomena. Statisticians help to design experiments; they then collect, analyze, and test the experimental data to summarize and present the results so that they can be understood in a meaningful manner. Statistically correct experimental design produces trustworthy data, and helps researchers draw practical conclusions to evaluate trends or projections.

Data can be derived from sources such as surveys, polls and experiments. Statisticians apply their knowledge to a wide array of disciplines, such as agriculture, biology, computer science, economics, education, engineering, human resources, marketing, medicine, public health, psychology, sociology, and sports.

Careers in Statistics

Statistics requires a rigorous mathematical preparation; however, there are rewards from such substantial mathematical study: a strong employment outlook, high pay, and an opportunity to work in an intellectually stimulating and diverse environment. Although statisticians are mathematical specialists, many work in companies, organizations and governmental agencies where the applications, rather than theory, are the primary focus. Statistics is one of the top professions for career growth potential and opportunity. Some of the possibilities for careers in statistics are the following:

  • Biostatistics to help design clinical and pharmaceutical trials for medical treatment
  • Market research to determine and analyze consumer demands
  • Government surveys to assess labor statistics for employment
  • Economics to determine trends in the national and/or global economy
  • Improved quality control in manufacturing to produce better products

Campus Employment

Several employment opportunities at PLU utilize students with mathematical training. Students are hired to tutor in mathematics, conduct evening help sessions, grade mathematics homework assignments, and coach/tutor public school students in the Mathlete Coaching Program.

How do I Become a Statistician?

To become a statistician, you must first develop a strong background in the field of mathematics. Once you have a thorough grounding in topics such as calculus and linear algebra, you may begin courses in probability theory, statistical analysis, regression analysis, and even combinatorics. These classes will vary between applied and theoretical topics, and many will require students to become familiar with popular statistical software.

For certain careers in statistics, a mathematics degree with a statistics minor may be sufficient. However, many statisticians choose to continue their studies at the masters or Ph.D. level, where topics become more specialized depending on the field of interest. Since statisticians work in a wide variety of fields, many students will begin to narrow their interests as they complete their coursework. This allows for students to take courses outside their mathematics/statistics focus as necessary. For example, a student interested in biostatistics may find that furthering their knowledge in genetics or epidemiology will enhance their chances at finding a job or moving on to graduate level education.

The Minor in Statistics at PLU

PLU has developed a minor in Statistics to help students prepare for careers as statisticians. The requirements for this minor are a minimum of 16 semester hours.

Many of these courses have prerequisites, which must be taken beforehand. Careful curriculum planning is quite important because some of these courses are offered only every other year. It is also important to understand the prerequisites to various courses.

It is important to get advice in planning your program. If you are considering the Statistics minor, you should speak to either of the following professors to get more information and help with planning.

Prof. N Justice


Prof. Jeff Stuart