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A Career in Statistics: Beyond the Numbers

ISBN: 978-1-118-49013-6
August 2012
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A valuable guide to a successful career as a statistician

A Career in Statistics: Beyond the Numbers prepares readers for careers in statistics by emphasizing essential concepts and practices beyond the technical tools provided in standard courses and texts. This insider's guide from internationally recognized applied statisticians helps readers decide whether a career in statistics is right for them, provides hands-on guidance on how to prepare for such a career, and shows how to succeed on the job.

The book provides non-technical guidance for a successful career. The authors' extensive industrial experience is supplemented by insights from contributing authors from government and academia, Carol Joyce Blumberg, Leonard M. Gaines, Lynne B. Hare, William Q. Meeker, and Josef Schmee. Following an introductory chapter that provides an overview of the field, the authors discuss the various dimensions of a career in applied statistics in three succinct parts:

  • The Work of a Statistician describes the day-to-day activities of applied statisticians in business and industry, official government, and various other application areas, highlighting the work environment and major on-the-job challenges
  • Preparing for a Successful Career in Statistics describes the personal traits that characterize successful statisticians, the education that they need to acquire, and approaches for securing the right job
  • Building a Successful Career as a Statistician offers practical guidance for addressing key challenges that statisticians face on the job, such as project initiation and execution, effective communication, publicizing successes, ethical considerations, and gathering good data; alternative career paths are also described

The book concludes with an in-depth examination of careers for statisticians in academia as well as tips to help them stay on top of their field throughout their careers. Each chapter includes thought-provoking discussion questions and a Major Takeaways section that outlines key concepts. Real-world examples illustrate key points, and an FTP site provides additional information on selected topics.

A Career in Statistics is an invaluable guide for individuals who are considering or have decided on a career in statistics as well as for statisticians already on the job who want to accelerate their path to success. It also serves as a suitable book for courses on statistical consulting, statistical practice, and statistics in the workplace at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

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PREFACE.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.

CHAPTER 1 PROLOGUE: A CAREER IN STATISTICS.

1.1 About This Chapter.

1.2 What is Statistics?

1.3 Who is a Statistician?

1.4 Who Employs Statisticians?

1.5 The Statistical Thought Process and What Makes it Special.

1.6 Many Skills Required.

1.7 Beyond the Workplace.

1.8 Some Downsides of a Career in Statistics.

1.9 The Excitement of a Career in Statistics.

1.10 Embarking on a Career in Statistics.

1.11 Accreditation.

1.12 Professional Societies.

1.13 A Preview.

1.14 Further Reading.

1.15 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

PART I THE WORK OF A STATISTICIAN

CHAPTER 2 WHAT STATISTICIANS DO IN BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY.

2.1 About This Chapter.

2.2 Manufactured Product Applications.

2.3 Service Business Applications.

2.4 Process Improvement.

2.5 Further Applications.

2.6 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 3 WHAT STATISTICIANS ENGAGED IN OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT STATISTICS DO.

3.1 About This Chapter.

3.2 The Scope of Official Statistics.

3.3 Examples of the Work.

3.4 Challenges of the Work.

3.5 Research Opportunities.

3.6 Some Major Employers in the U.S. Federal Government.

3.7 Required Credentials.

3.8 Integration of U.S. Government Statistical Activities.

3.9 Local Official Government Statistics Activities.

3.10 Government Statisticians Outside The United States.

3.11 Compensation and Other Considerations.

3.12 Sources of Further Information.

3.13 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 4 WHAT STATISTICIANS DO: SOME OTHER APPLICATION AREAS.

4.1 About This Chapter.

4.2 Regulatory Activities.

4.3 Health.

4.4 National Defense.

4.5 Other Scientific Research.

4.6 Social and Behavioral Sciences.

4.7 Teaching (in Nonacademic Settings).

4.8 Some Further Institutes for Research in the United States.

4.9 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 5 THE WORK ENVIRONMENT AND ON-THE-JOB CHALLENGES.

5.1 About This Chapter.

5.2 Receptiveness to Statistics and Statisticians.

5.3 Where do Statisticians Fit into the Organization?

5.4 Two Modes of Operation.

5.5 Grading Systems.

5.6 Globalization.

5.7 Hail to Our Managers!

5.8 Some Challenges.

5.9 Women in Statistics.

5.10 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

PART II PREPARING FOR A SUCCESSFUL CAREER IN STATISTICS.

CHAPTER 6 CHARACTERISTICS OF SUCCESSFUL STATISTICIANS.

6.1 About This Chapter.

6.2 Analytical and Technical Skills.

6.3 Communication and Interpersonal Skills.

6.4 Ability to Size Up Problems and See the "Big Picture".

6.5 Flexibility.

6.6 A Proactive Mindset.

6.7 Persistence.

6.8 A Realistic Attitude.

6.9 Enthusiasm and Appropriate Self-Confidence.

6.10 Ability to Prioritize, Manage Time, and Cope with Stress.

6.11 Team Skills.

6.12 Leadership Skills.

6.13 Ability to Properly Apply and Adapt Knowledge.

6.14 Passion for Lifelong Learning.

6.15 Further Reading.

6.16 As Others See It.

6.17 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 7 EDUCATION FOR SUCCESS.

7.1 About This Chapter.

7.2 The Statistics Advanced Placement Course and Other High School Programs.

7.3 Degrees in Statistics: The Numbers.

7.4 How Far To Go: Bachelor's, Master's, or Ph.D. Degree?

7.5 Selecting the Right School and Program.

7.6 Statistical Education: Setting the Foundations.

7.7 Coursework in Statistics.

7.8 Statistical Computing and Software.

7.9 Some Other Recommendations.

7.10 Internships and University Consulting.

7.11 Entering Statistics from Other Fields.

7.12 Further Resources.

7.13 Concluding Comment: The Limits of Formal Statistical Education.

7.14 As Others See It.

7.15 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 8 GETTING THE RIGHT JOB.

8.1 About This Chapter.

8.2 Defining Career Goals.

8.3 Identifying Opportunities.

8.4 Resume Writing.

8.5 The Job Interview.

8.6 Follow-Up.

8.7 Providing References.

8.8 Some Further Hints.

8.9 Assessing Job Offers.

8.10 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

PART III BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL CAREER AS A STATISTICIAN.

CHAPTER 9 ON-THE-JOB STRATEGIES: PROJECT INITIATION AND EXECUTION.

9.1 About This Chapter.

9.2 Project Initiation.

9.3 Project Execution.

9.4 As Others See It.

9.5 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 10 ON-THE-JOB STRATEGIES: COMMUNICATION, PUBLICIZING, AND ETHICS.

10.1 About This Chapter.

10.2 Communication, Communication, Communication.

10.3 Publicizing Statistics (And Statisticians).

10.4 Ethical Considerations.

10.5 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 11 GETTING GOOD DATA: A KEY CHALLENGE.

11.1 About This Chapter.

11.2 Designed Experiments.

11.3 Census and Random Sampling Studies of Human and Other Populations.

11.4 Systems Development Studies.

11.5 Observational Studies.

11.6 Hints for Getting the Right Data.

11.7 A Process for Data Gathering.

11.8 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 12 CAREER PATHS.

12.1 About This Chapter.

12.2 Some Roles for Applied Statisticians.

12.3 Other Major Roles to which Applied Statisticians Might Aspire.

12.4 Some Career Paths.

12.5 More on Statistical Leadership.

12.6 Contributions Beyond the Workplace.

12.7 Some More Career Examples.

12.8 Putting It All Together.

12.9 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

PART IV FURTHER PERSPECTIVES: CAREERS IN ACADEMIA AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT.

CHAPTER 13 CAREERS IN ACADEMIA.

13.1 About This Chapter.

13.2 What Statisticians in Academia do: An Overview.

13.3 Types of Positions.

13.4 Location within the Institution.

13.5 More on Tenure.

13.6 Life Beyond Tenure.

13.7 Teaching Challenges.

13.8 Research Challenges.

13.9 Consulting Challenges.

13.10 Administrative Service Challenges.

13.11 Professional Service Challenges.

13.12 More on the Academic Environment.

13.13 Training to Become an Academic Statistician.

13.14 Career Paths.

13.15 Downsides of a Career as an Academic Statistician.

13.16 Bright Sides of a Career as an Academic Statistician.

13.17 A Career as a Statistician in Academia: A Summary Comparison.

13.18 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 14 MAINTAINING THE MOMENTUM.

14.1 About This Chapter.

14.2 Some Internet Resources.

14.3 Formal Education.

14.4 Technical and Professional Journals.

14.5 Technical Conferences.

14.6 Future Opportunity Areas.

14.7 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

REFERENCES.

INDEX.

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Gerald J. Hahn, PhD, worked at the GE Global Research Center for 46 years, where he managed its statistics group for 28 years and was elected a Coolidge Fellow, the organization's highest honor, in 1984. A Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA) and American Society for Quality (ASQ), Dr. Hahn is the author of numerous papers and the coauthor of Statistical Models in Engineering; Statistical Intervals: A Guide for Practitioners; and The Role of Statistics in Business and Industry, all published by Wiley. He has received many professional awards and served as adjunct professor at various universities.

Necip Doganaksoy, PhD, is a Statistician and Principal Technologist at the GE Global Research Center, where he has worked for over 20 years; he is also an Adjunct Professor at Union Graduate College. A Six Sigma Master Black Belt and a Fellow of ASA and ASQ, Dr. Doganaksoy has written more than 60 articles on quality, reliability, and productivity improvement and coauthored The Role of Statistics in Business and Industry (Wiley). He received ASQ's William G. Hunter Award in 2009.

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“From now on whenever someone asks me about a career in statistics I will point them to this book which I think addresses their questions and concerns much better than I could with just my personal account.”  (Significance, 1 September 2011)

"This book needs to be readily available to majors or potential majors at any college or university that grants degrees in mathematics or statistics." (Mathematical Association of America Reviews, 16 March 2012)

"A valuable guide to a successful career as a statistician A Career in Statistics: Beyond the Numbers prepares readers for careers in statistics by emphasizing essential concepts and practices beyond the technical tools provided in standard courses and texts ... A Career in Statistics is an invaluable guide for individuals who are considering or have decided on a career in statistics as well as for statisticians already on the job who want to accelerate their path to success." (Green Technology, 29 November 2011)

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