Public and private sector statisticians gather, process and analyze data. This information is used to answer complex questions, solve difficult problems, help set public policy, grow our nation’s economy, improve people’s health and more.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates 34% growth in this field between 2014 and 2024. The internet alone has provided a massive amount of information for statisticians to analyze.
The Responsibilities of a Public Administration Statistician
When endeavoring to answer complex questions, statisticians first determine what type of data must be collected. They then identify and design the most appropriate means of collection, including questionnaires, surveys, polls and tests.
Statisticians also determine which segment of the population must be sampled to generate statistically significant results. For instance, questions addressed by the U.S. Census Bureau are presented to the entire population, while more specific matters are posed to smaller population segments. Questions are then disseminated via mail, internet, social media, phone, email, in person or by conducting in-person or online focus groups.
Once the appropriate data has been collected, it is then analyzed and verified. While a certain margin of error is expected, some results may be identified as faulty. In these instances, statisticians either improve upon their current model, or recommend and employ new methods of data collection. Finally, all verified findings are presented to the agency or group that initially requested the information.
Where do Public Administration Statisticians Work?
BLS reports that 1/3 of all statisticians are either employed by the federal government or work for scientific research firms. The government agencies that most frequently employ statisticians are the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Agricultural Statistical Service. Public sector statisticians also work for other government agencies, public research firms, nonprofit organizations and public academic institutions.
Those who work with the Department of Health and Human Services often operate in tandem with private medical and pharmaceutical employees when testing drug treatments, determining the sources of illnesses and outbreaks and approving new drug treatments.
Public administration statisticians also address commerce related topics. These individuals analyze unemployment rates, wages, hiring trends, retirement numbers and tax data. Statisticians also study voter registration data and conduct public polls to predict election results. Additionally, statistical data can be used to bolster or nullify public policy proposals. Public administration statisticians work on myriad topics. Most federal statisticians work in Washington, D.C. offices.
The Skillset of a Public Administration Statistician
Most statisticians have an educational background in mathematics and computer science. Public administration statisticians who have worked in professions such as medicine, engineering, business and science may rely on their subject-specific knowledge when analyzing relevant data for certain federal agencies.
While you may picture a statistician sitting behind a computer crunching numbers, these individuals have a decent amount of human interaction. Public administration statisticians often collaborate with subject matter experts; therefore, they must be comfortable working as part of a team. Further, once all collected data has been analyzed, statisticians explain and present their findings to the requesting agency heads, who will pepper them with questions and may be critical of the information being presented. Their findings must also be summarized in a cohesive written format.
Most public administration statisticians hold masters level degrees. Those who pursue degrees such as a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) grow their quantitative skillsets while learning how to apply these analytical skills in government, global affairs and public policy arenas.