What Kind of Skills Do I Need to Have a Successful Career in Applied Statistics?

Statisticians and anyone working in data will be in demand over the next coming years, and yet not enough seem to be getting into the pipeline. This is because only a chosen few get to make it, and it takes a special kind of person to succeed in applied statistics. Maybe you’re coming from another field and thought that your skills would carry over, but some are unique to statisticians that you may not have. This is why you need to take the time to really look at the profession and what is needed. Here are some of the skills you’ll need to be successful as a statistician.

An Ability to Simplify Complex Concepts

As a statistician, you will need to be able to simplify complex processes and data and find solutions fast. You’ll need to be able to tune out the noise and get to the data you need. You will need to be able to take vast amounts of data and identify patterns. You will also need to be able to catch any discrepancies.

A Love for Mathematics

It goes without saying that if you don’t have a genuine love for mathematics, you’ll struggle as a statistician. Having a mathematician’s mind will also come in handy when trying to bend algorithms and predictive models to address problems. Areas you’ll need to master include linear algebra and calculus.

Communication Skills

Some may not view communication skills as being crucial in the world of statistics, but they’d be sorely mistaken. Having good communication skills is essential in a field where you not only have to be able to understand complex subjects but vulgarize them to people who may have little to no understanding of it.

As a statistician, you will not be surrounded by other statisticians most of your time. People will work with you to decipher the data they may have, or establish systems that will allow them to compile and use it in their operation. So, you might often find yourself in rooms where you’re the only one who knows about data.

This is also why you will need to be patient. Some people or groups might take longer to understand certain principles, and you’ll need to be respectful. You don’t want to rush, and if someone is wrong, correct them respectfully instead of being condescending.

The Right Foundation

Everything starts with having the right qualifications, however. A bachelor could get you a job as an actuary, data analyst, or as a statistician. But masters will allow you to work as an actuarial director, or data engineers – jobs that can pay well over the 6 figures per year mark.

The good news is that you can always get it through an online statistics degree program. One of the best things about these programs is that they allow you to study at your own pace. Some will require that you sit for lectures at specific hours while others can be taken when you want. Most will also allow you to get your qualifications much faster.

Not only that, but you may be able to access better colleges than what you have in your city or state, Online degrees are just as respected as degrees from traditional programs. Statistics is also the type of program that transfers very well to online learning. This is a great option for anybody, especially for those who want to be able to further their education while maintaining their position.


As a statistician, there will be times when you’ll have to work as a team. And, since statistics can be very abstract, they can be open to all sorts of interpretation. This is where you will need to be conciliating and open to everybody’s opinion, even if you think they are terribly wrong.


The job of a statistician can be very complex and you could find yourself working for all sorts of clients. You could be trusted in the middle of interesting situations as well. For instance, you might be asked to talk to the media to educate the public. You might even be asked to speak as an expert witness. This is why you need to be able to walk and chew gum while adapting yourself to different situations fast.

Working as a statistician can be a fulfilling experience, but it’s not a role that’s for everybody. This is why you must know if you have what it takes before you make the jump.