Anatomy of a Biostatistics Degree

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People from various walks of life are considering obtaining a degree in biostatistics. For those who are adept in both biology and math, and want a career that could allow them to make a real difference to the world around them, a biostatistics career can be a great idea, as it offers a lot of opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Most professional biostatisticians are responsible for analyzing statistics and data that gathered about living things, and collected through medical research studies, or through collaborative studies with other scientists and statisticians. During the execution of a clinical trial, it may be possible to monitor how a study is conducted to ensure that the integrity of the data and the results will not be compromised. Frequently, biostatisticians will also write research proposals and convey the findings that they come across to the scientific community as part of their overall job. Some individuals within this field might also find themselves teaching other aspiring students at universities while they continue to conduct research and carry out fieldwork.

Becoming a Biostatistics Expert – Education

Most biostatisticians hold degrees in the higher areas of education. After all, those who want to begin working towards a good position in this career will need to obtain a degree that allows them to apply for the most competitive jobs. To get started, most students will need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in statistics, math, or even biostatistics. It’s worth keeping in mind that enrolling in other classes that have a focus on biology or medicine can also be helpful for individuals who hold bachelor’s degrees.

In order to be accepted within a bachelor’s degree program, you should have a relatively strong academic background in mathematics. Most universities that offer statistics degrees will require their students to have excellent grades in both science and math. Beyond this, they might also find that they’re given a preferential advantage if they have a lot of knowledge into how to use and run computer software, and have some idea of the statistics careers they would like to get involved with in the future.

At an undergraduate level, most degrees in the realm of statistics will cover a wide variety of different topics. Not only are students expected to study concepts like probability and introductory methods of statistical evaluation and analytics, but they will also need to think about topics like inference, experimental design, sampling and databases, computational inference, environmental statistics, biostatistics, and financial statistics. Throughout the course, students will find that they can gain experience working as part of team, and they may also learn how to use a variety of specialized computer software programs.

At a bachelor’s level, degrees regarding statistics will usually last for a period of three or four years depending on the college or university, and whether this is taken on a part-time or full-time basis. On the other hand, a master’s degree is likely to take one or two years to complete, and will be given through a combination of seminars, lectures, research projects, and other classes. Tasks during the degree might include writing up various types of coursework, delivering presentations, and more.

Master’s Degrees in Biostatistics

Although there are some positions open at an entry-level for those students holding bachelor’s degrees in the realm of statistics, the truth is that most biostatisticians will be better served by moving onwards to achieve their doctorate or master’s degree. These degrees are what help students to become specialized within their field and gain more experience with presenting results and conducting research.

Degrees related to biostatistics include:

  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Environmental Psychology
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Toxicology
  • Geographic Information Systems

Most master’s level programs in the world of biostatistics will include a great deal of in-depth coursework surrounding statistical methods and theory, as well as data management, computing, public health, and epidemiology. In the second year of classes, students should find that they will need to take some time to incorporate practicum experience into their education so that the can attempt working within a real government, academic, or industry-based facility project in an organizational setting. Students typically approach their master’s degree from a full-time perspective, but there may be some solutions for online and part-time study too.

Master’s level programs are designed to prepare students for a future of functioning as collaborators within various research projects in government, industry, and academic projects. These degrees will also prepare students to study at a doctoral level if they choose to take their education further.

Students who complete a program at the master’s level successfully should graduate with extensive knowledge in statistical inference, probability, and hypothesis testing. They will also learn how to design and conduct epidemiological and experimental studies, complete statistical computation and data analysis.

PhD Programs in Biostatistics

Once a master’s degree in biostatistics is earned, graduates will have the opportunity to take their education even further and apply for a PhD program. These programs are created for individuals who have demonstrated both skills and interest in the realm of research, and the class will prepare those students for careers in the practice and theory of biostatistics and bioinformatics. These programs often include training in the skills required to develop methodology, and contribute to consulting, teaching, and collaboration within a broad spectrum of issues relating to genomics, human health and biology. Such students must be competent when it comes to:

  • Applying innovative statistical theories and methods of computing to the development or understanding of biostatistics or bioinformatics information and methodology, as well as publishing research and finding solutions to current health problems
  • Offering biostatistics and scientific information leadership in the design, performance and analysis of various studies and research projects in public health and medicine
  • Applying computational methods and statistical methods to analyze complex data regarding public health and medical information, including the development of potential software solutions for new simulation methods.
  • Communicating and collaborating with scientists in similar disciplines and other biostatistics experts in the field.
  • Teaching bioinformatics or biostatistics to other health professionals, graduate students and research scientists

Which Degree Do You Need?

Though there are some exceptions to the rule, most of the people who call themselves biostatisticians today will have a degree from a biostatistics or statistics department at a masters or doctorate level. Degrees are crucial in opening doors for future careers.

Those who aim to develop new statistical or theoretical methods for learning about potential diseases and health problems are advised to obtain a doctorate degree that focuses on theory from a statistics or biostatistics department. The same applies to those who want to teach in a biostatistics department.

Alternatively, for individuals who prefer to get a job in a nonacademic clinical research environment, industry position, or with the government, a doctorate can still be a reasonable option to be a step ahead of competition – but it is not necessarily a requirement. Here a master’s degree should be enough, and the same applies to those who want to become programmers for clinical trials – although it can be beneficial to obtain additional experience working with computers and software in these cases.

In most circumstances, the more demanding the degree obtained, the more it will open doors for you for higher-paying and more attractive opportunities in your chosen career. The reason for this is that the more time you devote to your education, the more likely that you will have obtained the skills and knowledge that your employers are looking for when they hire individuals for high-level positions. Still, while there can be a serious bump associated with a doctorate degree, it’s worth noting that taking your education to this level will require a lot of contribution in the way of time and resources. This means that if a doctorate degree is not necessary or applicable for your chosen career path, then you may still be able to obtain a good job without taking this next step.

Careers for Biostatisticians

The best way to determine how you want to plan out your degree options for the future of your career as a biostatistician is to decide what you want to do. Most of the time, biostatisticians with a master’s degree will work within the census bureau or within the bureau of economic analysis. However, some will work for educational and private finance services. Biostatisticians tend to spend most of their working days on a computer or within an office setting, which is why it’s generally such a good idea to focus some of your education on learning how to use specialized programs that are needed to analyze lab results and statistics. You will also need to ensure that you have the patience and skills to collaborate with other people on your work, such as a team of researchers or scientists.

If you would prefer to work within a university or higher government setting, then you might find that you are better served by earning your doctoral degree, However, again it’s worth noting that many places will hire research-based statisticians based on a master’s degree alone. Regardless of where you choose to work, you’ll typically find that you work on a normal, full-time schedule, though some projects may require overtime depending on their urgency.

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