Certain things in life are made for each other: cheese and tomato, movies and popcorn, rainy days and hot chocolate, and … statistics and IT. Imagine being a statistician with no computer programmes or fancy software to help you organise and make sense of all the data around you. Imagine being surrounded by reams of paper and having to create graphs and charts by hand. Oh yes, IT is a boon to statistical analysis.
Statistics combines scientific and mathematical principles to collect, analyse and interpret data. They also devise data collection methods to ensure that the information is collected in a quantifiable manner. If you’re not highly focused and don’t possess Vulcan-like logic then you should probably consider another career.
Becoming a statistician
It should go without saying that you need to have taken maths and science throughout your school career. Statistics is not a field that you spontaneously leap into after years of home economics, history and geography, but if you’re the kind of person prone to spur of the moment gut decisions then, once again, statistics might not be for you.
So, you need maths and science – with good grades – and then degree. Not just any old degree will do. A bachelor’s degree in maths or science is a good starting point, but then you need to up the stakes and get your master’s degree and, if you can, a PhD. Statistics is one of those fields where a PhD will stand you in good stead, rather than simply being an interesting way to occupy five years of your life.
Your degree programme should incorporate maths (particularly calculus and linear algebra, according to printonereview.com) and statistics (of course), computer science, probability, logic and even psychology. You’ll also need to fully understand all forms of research methodology and be able to define terms such as Chi-squared test, analysis of variance, mean square weighted deviation, and Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient.
It’s important to note that just because you’re going to be neck deep in numbers doesn’t mean you can’t combine your statistical skills with other subjects. Statisticians are required in a wide range of fields, including biology (biostatistics), economics (econometrics), geography (geostatistics), business (business analytics), psychology (psychometrics), health (epidemiology) and reliability engineering – Wikipedia.
One of the reasons why IT is so important to statisticians is that they rely heavily on software that helps them arrange, access and assimilate information. Software can draw on numbers and run complicated calculations based on even more complicated formulas to generate charts, graphs and tables that help statisticians analyse data and reach logical conclusions. These programmes also detect minor errors that might otherwise have been missed.
Some statisticians also find that they have to tweak existing software or write their own programmes so they can run the tests and formulas they require.
IT is a boon to statistical analysis indeed.
Sandy Cosser writes on behalf of Now Learning, which promotes online IT courses and an assortment of other degree programmes in Australia.