Biostatistician Career

If you like working with numbers and want to work in healthcare, you might want to be a biostatistician. Biostatisticians apply statistics to medical and public-health research. Almost daily, the media report new research findings related to human health. Health-related findings, or others concerning healthcare costs and quality, are usually based on the work of biostatisticians.


Biostatisticians often perform the following duties

  • Write research proposals or grant applications for submission to external bodies.
  • Design statistical studies, decide how to gather data, and analyze the data, often in conjunction with physicians, health policy analysts, life scientists or other professionals.
  • Analyze clinical or survey data, using statistical approaches such as longitudinal analysis, mixed-effect modeling, logistic regression analyses, and model-building techniques.
  • Must be able to adapt when projects don’t turn out as planned or take longer than expected to complete.
  • Develop or use mathematical models to track changes in biological phenomena, such as the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Prepare tables and graphs to present clinical data or results.


Source - US Bureau of Labor Statistics


How to Become a Biostatistician:

High school students can start to explore the occupation by getting a solid background in science, mathematics, statistics, and computer science. Not surprisingly, statistical knowledge is essential for these workers, as is familiarity with common statistical programming software.



A bachelor’s degree with a major in biostatistics, statistics, or mathematics is usually the minimum requirement for entry-level positions. However, most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).


Important Skills and Abilities:

  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems
  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions
  • Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).


Technical Skills

Many of these positions involve extensive technical skills, particularly in data management and interpretation and statistical analysis.

  • Analytical or scientific software — IBM SPSS Statistics; Minitab; SAS; The MathWorks MATLAB
  • Data base user interface and query software — Microsoft Access; Microsoft SQL Server; Oracle software; Structured query language SQL
  • Object or component oriented development software — Oracle Java; Practical extraction and reporting language Perl; Python; R
  • Operating system software — Bash; Linux; Shell script; UNIX


Career Resources:

SMB. The Society for Mathematical Biology

The SMB was founded in 1973 to promote the development and dissemination of research and education at the interface between the mathematical and biological sciences. It does so through its meetings, awards, and publications.


Harvard Catalyst—Biostatistics Program

The Harvard Catalyst Biostatistical Program has teamed up with eagle-i to provide a search tool to access the resources of more than 34 institutions with just under 1,400 software resources, and thousands of other resources.


IBS. The International Biometric Society

Devoted to the Development and Application of Statistical and Mathematical Theory and Methods in the Biosciences. The International Biometric Society is an international society promoting the development and application of statistical and mathematical theory and methods in the biosciences, including agriculture, biomedical science and public health, ecology, environmental sciences, forestry, and allied disciplines. The Society welcomes as members statisticians, mathematicians, biological scientists, and others devoted to interdisciplinary efforts in advancing the collection and interpretation of information in the biosciences.


ISCB. The International Society for Clinical Biostatistics

The International Society for Clinical Biostatistics was founded in 1978 to stimulate research into the principles and methodology used in the design and analysis of clinical research and to increase the relevance of statistical theory to the real world of clinical medicine. ISCB's membership include clinicians, statisticians and members of other disciplines, such as epidemiologists, clinical chemists and clinical pharmacologists, working or interested in the field of clinical biostatistics.


SCT. The Society for Clinical Trials

The Society for Clinical Trials (SCT)is a multidisciplinary society with membership spanning myriad disciplines that are all critical to the field of clinical trials: biostatistics, clinical areas, IT and systems, data management, ethics, regulatory bodies, behavioral science, research coordination, patient partners, health outcomes researchers, and many others. Our members come from academia, industry, government and non-profit research and advocacy groups.

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Best practices for biostatisticians -