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By on March 24, 2017

What is statistics?

Statistics is a branch of mathematics that deals with, quite simply, the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of masses of numerical data. To be specific we can say it is the science of drawing reasonable conclusions about a huge variety of things - right from the brand of cola Indian teenagers prefer, to how much the population of India will grow in the next fifteen years, to which party will win the next elections, by collecting and analyzing data from a group of people called the sample. It is also about being able to present these conclusions in simple language to people with no background in mathematics, and to be able to advise on the strengths and limitations of the results. In addition statisticians provide crucial guidance in determining what information is reliable and which predictions can be trusted. They often help search for clues to the solution of a scientific mystery, and sometimes keep crime investigators from being misled by false impressions.

Educational Route To Become Statistician

To become a good statistician one should have interest in statistics and some qualifications as well. The qualifications include having sound knowledge about the statistics and its methods. One should have a minimum graduation degree in statistics and mathematics to pursue this a career. The master’s degree or Ph.D. in the same will prove helpful to excel in this career.

While in 12th: You just need to have Mathematics and English as subjects of study at the plus 2 level.

Undergraduate level: At this level, you could do a Bachelor's degree in Statistics, which might be a BSc or a Bcom with a major in Statistics, or a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, economics or Physics. Or you could do a B.Stat (Bachelor of Statistics) from the ISI (Indian Statistical Institute). You can even pursue a career in Statistics after a B.E or a B.Tech also.

Postgraduate level: You could either do the M. Stat course offered by the ISI or an M. Sc in Statistics. If you have completed your B. Sc. in Mathematics, you can do M. Sc. in Mathematical Statistics, Operations Research or an MS in Quantitative Economics apart from an M. Stat. If you have a Bachelor’s degree in Economics or Physics then you can do a M.S in Quantitative Economics. After a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering or Technology, you have the option of pursuing an M.Tech in Quality, Reliability and Operations Research or a postgraduate diploma in Statistical Quality Control.

Courses and its eligibility

For Bachelor of Statistics (B.Stat Hons) & Bachelor of Mathematics (B Math Hons): You should have successfully completed 10+2 years of Higher Secondary Education (or its equivalent) with Mathematics and English as subjects of study.

Master of Statistics (M Stat) & Master of Mathematics (M Math): You should have a three-year Bachelor’s degree or a BE/B.Tech degree with Statistics as a full subject, or a B Math degree from ISI, or a Post-Graduate Diploma in Statistical Methods with Applications/Statistical Methods and Analytics from ISI.

For M Math, if the candidates posses BE/B Tech degree, with Mathematics and have the strong background in Analysis and Abstract Algebra or if satisfying any of the above conditions then, he/she is eligible for this course.

Master of Science (MS) in Quantitative Economics: The candidates should have Bachelor’s degree in Economics/Mathematics/Statistics/Physics or if have a B Stat degree from ISI. BE/B Tech degree candidates having Mathematics and Economics are also eligible to apply.

Master of Science (MS) in Quality Management Science: Bachelor’s degree candidates with mathematics or BE/B Tech degree candidates are permitted to apply for this course.

Many University in India offers statistics at both graduate and post graduate level. But Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) is considered as one of the foremost centers in the world for training and research in Computer Science, Statistics, Quantitative Economics and related Sciences. ISI select students through entrance. If you wish to be a data scientist or aspire for top level career you must do post graduate or beyond and consider top level institute like IIM Calcutta, IIT Kharagpur and Indian institute of statistics, Kolkata or Bangalore. IIT teaches about implementation using relevant software tools and IIM teaches the business application of the same. Then to top it all, you get to see the real world execution during the internship.

What exactly Statisticians do?

Statisticians basically collect, analyze and interpret data. They would do this in a number of steps. First, statisticians decide on the ‘statistical model’ that would be most suitable for the job at hand. There are any number of statistical models they could choose from, and even after they choose the one that seems to most suit the job, they might have to modify and customize it a little.

Secondly, they will determine which ‘sample’ will be most representative for the problem under consideration. Say a cola company wants to find out where their brand stands among urban Indian teenagers. They will go to a statistician and ask him to find out for them. The statistician obviously cannot go and ask every teenager in India what his favourite brand of cola is. Instead, he will choose a group of teenagers, called a sample, which best represents India, and poll them.

At this stage , the statistician will have to actually go and ask each and every member of his sample what his favourite brand of cola is. This is the slog job – the actual fieldwork - and is called data collection, or surveying.

After this comes the task of splitting the same data into various categories – some of the categories in the above example may be urban male teenagers, urban female teenagers under 16, teenagers in south India, and so on.

Then comes the serious job of analyzing the data and interpreting it. This is the part where the formulae come in, and the numbers are crunched. All the required results are obtained at this stage. The most important part of the process is to present these results simply and concisely, statisticians use a variety of visual devices like bar graphs, pie charts and so on.

Key Responsibilities of statisticians:

  1. Decide what data are needed to answer specific questions or problems
  2. Determine methods for finding or collecting data
  3. Design surveys, experiments, or opinion polls to collect data
  4. Collect data or train others to do so
  5. Analyze and interpret data
  6. Report conclusions from their analyses

In what areas do Statisticians work?

A good statistician has a job opportunity in almost every field and sector of the industry. Statistics is indispensable in this modern age aptly termed as "the age of planning". The governments of most countries around the world are constantly researching to improve its economic development. Statistical data and techniques of statistical analysis are immensely useful in solving economical problems such as wages, price, time series analysis, demand analysis. It is an irreplaceable tool of production control. Business executives are relying more and more on statistical techniques for studying the preference of the customers. Depending on their specializations, statistician may work in one or more of the following areas.

Scientific Research: Statistical sciences are used to enhance the validity of inferences in:

  1. Psychological tests to study how we reach the everyday decisions in our lives
  2. Radiocarbon dating to estimate the risk of earthquakes
  3. Clinical trials to investigate the effectiveness of new treatments
  4. Field experiments to evaluate irrigation methods
  5. Measurements of water quality

Government Operations: Government statisticians conduct experiments to help in the development of public policy and social programs. Such experiments include:

  1. Population trends
  2. Employment patterns
  3. Fluctuations in the economy
  4. Consumer prices

Surveys: To conduct survey statisticians collect information from a carefully specified sample and extend the results to an entire population. Sample surveys might be used:

  1. To discover what foods teenagers prefer for breakfast
  2. To determine which political candidate is more popular
  3. To estimate the number of children living in a given school district

Business And Industry: Statisticians quantify unknowns in order to optimize resources. They:

  1. Predict the demand for products and services. Example: in production engineering, statistical tools such as inspection plan, control chart etc. are extensively used to find out whether the product is confirming to the specification or not.
  2. Check the quality of items manufactured in a facility
  3. Manage investment portfolios
  4. Forecast how much risk activities entail, and calculate fair and competitive insurance rates

Career Prospects

Where a statistician work? Well, in almost every area you can think of, really. Statisticians could specialize in fields like Biostatistics or Health Statistics, mathematical statistics, operations research, statistical quality control, quantitative economics, and applied statistics. Depending on their specializations, they may work in one or more of the following areas.

One can find a career in statistical profession by doing activities such as solving problems in a wide variety of fields and apply mathematical and statistical knowledge to social, economic problems. Careers that incorporate statistics can be found in a wide variety of disciplines. A few examples of fields which use statistics, i.e agriculture, business, industry, computer science, health sciences, government, private, scientific and other disciplines.

Statisticians can also apply for the Indian Statistical Services, Civil Services and Indian statistical Services examinations. They can work in government departments like the Ministry of Commerce, the Directorate of Commercial Intelligence & Statistics, and so on. They could be involved in statistical research at institutes under the ICMR (Indian Council for Medical Research) or ICAR (Indian Council for Agricultural Research).

In India statistician works in market research organizations like ORG-MARG, MODE and AC Nielsen, economic and social research organizations like the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER).

One could also work for all manner of corporate organizations in their quality control, market research, business forecasting, and operations research departments. And last but not least, as faculty in various colleges and universities across the country.