Why Biostatistics

Why a Career in (Bio)Statistics?

"I keep saying that the sexy job in the next 10 years will be statisticians, and I’m not kidding."
-Hal Varian, chief economist at Google from McKinsey Quarterly, Jan. 2009


"Statistician" routinely rates as one of the best jobs according to several widely distributed job rankings. Why? Possibly due to some of the following fine qualities of this position:

  1. The heavy lifting is intellectual, not physical.
  2. The work is indoors. (Although here in sunny Southern California, you can work outdoors anytime you please!)
  3. It pays well. Starting salaries for a PhD in Biostatistics often exceed $100,000 per year (For Today's Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics, Steve Lohr, NYT, August 6, 2009).
  4. The skills are transferable and attractive to employers. Statistical skills, and biostatistical skills in particular, are required for many professions.
  5. The work is collaborative. To be a successful biostatistician, you must effectively communicate with your collaborators. As a result, biostatistics is unlikely to be outsourced the way expertise in other fields has become in recent years.
  6. It is rewarding to solve real life problems, using skills that few people have. Our statistical models can help cure diseases and improve quality of life.
  7. And, perhaps most importantly, it is intellectually stimulating! As a statistician, you are constantly developing creative ways to solve problems. Your job is changing and evolving with cutting edge science – you will not be bored!

In many respects, the disciplines of statistics and biostatistics are quite similar. In biostatistics, our research problems are generally motivated by real data sets and problems from public health, biology, and medicine. The statistical methodology that we develop routinely has application beyond the topic that pointed to a need for scientific innovation.

Biostatistics is the perfect career for people who like math but want an exciting career solving real world problems!

Graduates from our department emerge as statisticians who have additional training in medical and other health-science fields. As a result, they are eligible for employment as statisticians and as researchers in the fields of genetics and biology, bioinformatics, and medicine.

For further information, please visit the UCLA School of Public Health website, our page titled Why UCLA Biostatistics? and the following presentations What is Biostatistics? and Why You Should Consider Graduate Study in the UCLA Department of Biostatistics? developed by Professors Rob Weiss and Tom Belin, respectively, in our department.