Is a Statistics Degree Worth It?


Key Takeaways 

  • A statistics degree offers versatility and opportunities in a data-centric job market across various industries.
  • Academic level affects your time and financial investment, with higher degrees often leading to greater earning potential.
  • Considering long-term ROI and current industry demand is crucial when deciding if a statistics degree is worth it.

    Introduction to Statistics Degrees

    The Economist once declared that data is the world’s most valuable resource, not oil. Harvard Business Review has said that data scientists have the “sexiest job.” Indeed, we’re amid the rise of data-driven decision-making in the 21st century.

    Abbreviated as DDDM, it’s the process of using data to inform, make, and confirm decisions. It isn’t surprising, considering that we generate over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. How decision-makers deal with data can make or break their organizations. 

    Data breach is an example of data mishandling with negative consequences. Equifax and Target were data breach victims that paid millions in settlements. Even tech giants, such as Yahoo and Facebook, weren’t spared. 

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    For this reason, many industries use DDDM in their strategies and operations. The tech industry relies on DDDM to generate actionable insights. Information technology companies, for example, leverage DDDM in asset management. 

    The finance, transportation, healthcare, and manufacturing industries are also strong DDDM adopters. Predictive analytics, data visualization, and data analytics are popular tools. 

    Where do statistics professionals and their degrees come into the DDDM picture? Statistics, a branch of mathematics, involves data collection, analysis, and interpretation. Statisticians have the expert knowledge and skills for handling data for DDDM purposes. 

    With an increasing number of industries adopting DDDM, statisticians are in high demand. It is the primary statistics degree value – excellent job opportunities. 

    But earning a statistics degree isn’t all about the money either. Statisticians can make a positive difference in the world. Their real-world, practical, and pragmatic contributions include: 

    • Public health and medicine – Design clinical trials for new medicines 
    • Environmental protection – Use statistics in wildlife conservation programs 
    • Public policy – Apply statistics to assess the effective use of public resources 
    • Education – Design assessment tools to identify areas for improvement in student learning 
    • Crime – Analysis of crime data necessary for crime reduction initiatives 

    Indeed, statistics isn’t an abstract degree. With proper education and training, you can make a concrete impact. 

    But earning a statistics degree isn’t easy either. Keep in mind that it’s a STEM degree, meaning strong math and science skills are a must. You must have strong foundational skills in linear algebra, calculus, and probability theory. 

    During your bachelor’s degree studies, your coursework includes: 

    • Statistical theory, including descriptive statistics and estimation theory 
    • Applied statistics, including regression analysis and statistical computing 
    • Advanced topics in Bayesian statistics and multivariate analysis

    Many statistics programs offer specializations, too. Biostatistics, financial statistics, and econometrics are examples. Students complete capstone projects and internships, too. 

    Earning a statistics degree results in intensive skills development. Technical competencies, such as the use of software, are a must. Transferable skills, such as communication and analytical skills, complement hard skills.

    Academic Levels of Statistics Degrees

    Note that two-year colleges and four-year universities offer data science degrees. These are suitable alternatives for a statistics degree. 

    Associate Degree 

    A two-year associate degree establishes a strong foundation in statistics and its methods. If you want to test the waters or enjoy affordable education, go for it. 

    Job opportunities include data entry assistants and statistical assistants. Research teams also look for support professionals. Earning a bachelor’s degree is the usual career advancement path. 

    Bachelor’s Degree 

    A four-year bachelor’s degree provides a comprehensive understanding of statistics. Students learn the theories, techniques, and technologies related to statistics. Courses in math and computer science are common. Students also learn about the wide range of statistics applications.  

    Graduates qualify for entry-level and mid-level (with relevant work experience) positions. Research analysts, statisticians, and mathematicians are common jobs. Graduates can also pursue graduate studies. 

    Master’s Degree 

    Students complete 1-2 years of advanced studies beyond a bachelor’s degree. Many programs require applicants to have relevant work experience for admission. Advanced courses include data analysis, machine learning, and biostatistics. 

    Most mid-level positions require a master’s degree. There’s a high demand for master’s degree holders in statistics in several industries, too. The technology, finance,  business, and healthcare industries are foremost examples. Opportunities for higher salaries and specialized roles are plenty. 

    Ph.D. in Statistics

    Candidates can spend 4-7 years in a PhD program. The high cost, rigorous coursework, and intensive research make for many dropouts.  

    Graduates can look forward to high-paying positions in the public and private sectors. A PhD is also a must for individuals interested in original research in statistics. 

    Whatever your choice, be sure to check the program’s accreditation status. The college or university must have regional accreditation, such as SACSCOC. Accreditation means quality assurance, industry recognition, and financial aid access.  

    We’d also like to address the question, “Is an online statistics degree worth it?” Yes, it is. But be sure to check the college’s accreditation status. The best online programs have the same curriculum and instruction as on-campus programs. 

    Career Opportunities and Industry Demand

    If you’re planning on a career in statistics, you’re making the right choice. With DDDM use on the rise among a wide range of industries, the statistics job market is the best. 

    Becoming mathematicians and statisticians is the obvious choice. Note that a master’s degree is a must for these professionals. Every organization that uses data analysis needs mathematicians and statisticians. The most popular workplaces include: 

    • Colleges and universities, usually in a research capacity
    • Government agencies, typically involved in DDDM for public policy and administration matters 
    • Healthcare organizations, including pharmaceutical companies and hospitals 
    • Research and development companies, such as when involved in product testing and development  

    Mathematicians and statisticians earn well, too, with $116,440 in median annual wage. Demand for their skills is high, with a 30% project job growth rate (2022-2032). 

    Professionals with statistics degrees will also find rewarding careers in other industries. Check out careers in technology and data science and marketing and market research. 

    Here are specific examples of well-paying occupations where a statistics degree has great value: (Dollar amounts are the national average salary) 

    • Financial analysts ($73,812) 
    • Cost estimators ($82,321) 
    • Business analysts ($83,763)
    • Market researchers ($78,645) 
    • Business intelligence analysts ($99,864) 
    • Actuaries ( $120,164)
    • Data scientists ($119,380)
    • Data analysts ($74,822)
    • Operations research analysts ($82,360)
    • Risk analysts ($86,014)
    • Epidemiologists ($108,026)
    • Sports statisticians ($97,297) 

    Indeed, both the public and private sectors seek statistics-savvy professionals. The career progression can be straightforward, too. Many start in junior roles, gain work experience and climb the corporate ladder.

    Job security and stability will be different depending on the industry and organization. Most statistics majors report fair job security due to their in-demand skills.  

    Financial Considerations and Return on Investment

    Every higher degree level in statistics contributes to higher income. Relevant work experience and professional certifications influence career advancement, too. 

    While actual salaries vary, the median weekly earnings based on degree level are: 

    • Associate’s degree – $1,058
    • Bachelor’s degree – $1,493
    • Master’s degree –  $1,737
    • Doctoral degree –  $2,109 

    Furthermore, earning a statistics degree brings satisfactory to excellent ROI. Of course, your ROI will depend on many factors. Your total cost of education, student loan debt, and salary increase are foremost. 

    Unlike many STEM degrees, a statistics degree isn’t as expensive. Statistics programs usually don’t have state-of-the-art laboratories. Students don’t have to pay for expensive textbooks and software, either. Research funding needs for statistics programs are lower, too. 

    For comparison purposes, these are the average costs of degrees (2020-2021):

    • Associate degree – Between $4,000 for public and $15,600 – $17,700 for private institutions 
    • Bachelor’s degree – Between $9,700 for public and $17,800 – $38,800 for private institutions 
    • Master’s degree – Between $56,000 and $75,000
    • PhD degree – $81,900

    Student financial aid decreases the total cost of education. Statistics majors have these financial aid options: 

    • Federal aid (FAFSA) 
    • State aid 
    • Military education benefits 
    • Employer tuition reimbursement 
    • Institutional aid, such as scholarships, grants, and work-study 
    • Private scholarships and grants 
    • Private loans 

    Financial aid makes a statistics degree more affordable. The combination of affordable cost and excellent salary means fast and high ROI. 

    Preparing for a Future in Statistics

    Statistics majors must take advantage of every hands-on learning opportunity. Internships and networking events are excellent opportunities in this regard. Government agencies, research institutions, and corporations are popular internship places. Job fairs and career development seminars are great for networking. 

    Why take part in these activities? You will gain real-world exposure to statistics and its applications. Your expanded network is an excellent source for job recommendations and referrals. Indeed, these are outstanding opportunities to establish a successful career in statistics. 

    Once you’ve started, you must engage in continuous learning and professional development. Statistics and its applications are in constant flux. New statistical methodologies and software are being introduced all the time. Staying updated is then a must. 

    In conclusion, you must also apply DDDM principles if you want to pursue a statistics career. You want reliable information to make your choice.