Biostatisticians design research studies and analyze data related to human health, animals or plants.
The healthcare, biomedical, and pharmaceutical fields employ biostatisticians who are responsible for analyzing genetic data, disease occurrence, and medical imaging data. These biostatisticians develop clinical trials to assess drug treatments. Other academic and government biostatisticians analyze data of populations exposed to environmental chemicals and conditions to understand their risks and effects.
Research problems are as diverse as the study of factors affecting heart and lung disease, testing new drugs to combat AIDS, assessing indoor air quality in schools, working with various cancer studies, evaluating dental health and dental procedures, evaluating psychiatric symptoms and drug and alcohol use, transplanting organs and bone marrow, and studying inner ear infection. Biostatisticians also help develop statistical techniques. Active areas of research include Bayesian methods, high-speed computing and simulation, survival analysis, analysis of geographical patterns of disease, longitudinal data analysis, and methods for analyzing data from epidemiologic studies and clinical trials.
When Math Is Used
Biostatisticians collaborate with researchers as they design studies, helping them find the best approach to data gathering given the question the researchers are trying to answer. These statisticians provide advice on such topics as sample size and data collection (what methods will be used to gather the data). Once the raw data have been gathered, biostatisticians use statistical software to turn the data into useful information. They use standard statistical procedures and terms to help researchers pinpoint which results were significant and which were inconclusive, warranting further study. Biostatisticians sometimes find themselves cleaning up an imperfect data set to help researchers glean conclusions from it.
According to salary.com, the median salary for an entry level position as a Biostatistician is $82,531. The typical salary range for all level positions as a Biostatistician is $69,739 - $153,560. This variance is largly due to the level of education one enters the field with, their experience level, and the industry one chooses to work in.
A bachelor's degree is sufficient for entering the field of Biostatistics as an assistant. However, most Biostatisticians have M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in Biostatistics, Statistics, or Applied Mathematics.
Biostatisticians may be hired by a number of different employers. For instance, they may work at universities or large health care institutions. They may be employees of federal or state government agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services. Or they may work in private companies' research and development groups. Biostatisticians with advanced degrees can look forward to excellent career opportunities in government, industry, and academia. The shortage of biostatisticians is noted in Objectives for the Nation and the Seventh Report to the President and Congress on the Status of Health Personnel in the United States.
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