How to Become a Biostatistician in Canada or the USA


Those who become biostatisticians are typically strong in academics and are emotionally stable, as this is required to complete short and long-term tasks. They must be interested in biology and statistics, and have an aptitude for mathematics.


To become a biostatistician, you must have also have the patience needed to begin and complete lengthy and detailed tasks, as well as have the communication skills to ensure your findings are properly communicated to those that require the information.


Biostatisticians work closely with professionals who are experts in other areas of biology, so they must be comfortable working in such an environment, and sharing their opinions and work with others who may see it from a different point of view.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to get started in this profession. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Required Education

To become a biostatistician in an entry-level job, such as a research assistant, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, statistics or a closely related field.


You’ll also need to ensure that you gain knowledge in your specific field of interest. For example, a biostatistician who works in medicine must have a basic understanding of medicine, and one who works in agriculture must have a basic understanding of agriculture.


In order to qualify for a job with a greater level of responsibility, such as a lead researcher, you’ll need a master’s or a doctoral degree in biostatistics or a closely related field. The more education you pursue in this field, the better. Those with doctoral degrees in biostatistics usually qualify for the positions that offer the most independence, the highest pay, and the most responsibility.   


Internships and fellowships are ideal ways to gain practical experience in a particular field while you’re still a student. There are many government agencies, businesses, and industries that offer graduate students internships and fellowships that often cover tuition, research expenses, and financial compensation.





General Job Description

Biostatisticians are responsible for assisting with research regarding critical issues within a variety of fields related to biology, including agriculture, biology, forestry, health care, public health and medical science.


Their main goal is to identify the best process for collecting data given the query the researchers are trying to answer. In order to accomplish this goal, and provide usable information for researchers, they must plan, organize, analyze and interpret statistical studies.



Typical Job Duties

• Liaise closely with researchers

• Collect and examine data that will provide relevant conclusions about critical medial queries

• Assist in researching such issues as the relationship between a psychotropic drug and weight gain

• Offer tips regarding techniques that should be used to obtain data

• Offer tips regarding the number of subjects needed in order to obtain meaningful results



Biostatistician Salary Level

The salary level of biostatisticians can vary depending on factors such as where they work, their level of experience, their level of education, the budget for the project they are working on, the specific responsibilities of their job, and many others.


Salary - Canada (Alberta figures only): According to the 2012 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (the latest figures available at the time of writing - June 18, 2019), Albertans in the Statisticians occupational group earn an average wage of between $93,273 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories. 


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for workers in the Statisticians occupational group is $72,830 per year (2010 data).





Who Employs Biostatisticians?

Biostatisticians are hired by organizations that need expert-level data collection and planning in order to help solve problems in fields related to biology. These typically organizations include:


• Colleges and universities

• Medical research agencies

• Pharmaceutical companies

• Agricultural and forestry consulting companies

• Private health care organizations

• Public health care organizations

• Hospitals and other health care facilities

• Government agencies

• Healthcare advocacy organizations

•Self-employed (as a consultant) 


How is Their Work Important?

The work of biostatisticians is important because it is critical in researching various issues related to biology, and ultimately finding the best course of action to deal with those issues.


For example, they may plan and conduct studies tests that determine whether or not certain drugs successfully treat certain conditions, which could ultimately lead to showing which what treatments are effective and should ultimately be pursued.


Their work may also help to identify the sources of outbreaks of illnesses in humans and animals; once the source of the outbreak is identified a suitable course of action to deal with the outbreak can then be determined. 



Skills and Attributes Needed to Be Successful

To perform your work effectively, you will need to posses a certain skill set and personality traits, including:


• The ability to work alone and in a team setting

• An interest in mathematics, statistics and biology

• Excellent communication skills

• The ability to use specialized computer software to organize and analyze data

• An aptitude for and interest in mathematics

• An interest in the application of scientific principles to the solution of practical problems

• The ability to organize projects and carry them out

• The ability to write clear, concise reports in language appropriate for intended audience



Current Job Opportunities

Our job board below has biostatistician postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, when available (although general online postings in this field are quite rare, it's worth a look!):




Similar Occupational Profiles in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to this one, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


• Bio-Analyst

• Clinical Data Analyst

• Mathematician

• Medical Scientist

• Statistician



References For This Career Guide

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a biostatistician.


Occupations in Alberta:Statistician.” (January 1, 2012). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 28, 2019.

Math:Mathematicians and Statisticians.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Employment and Wages - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved October 28, 2019.

Resources: Your Career.” (n.d.). American Statistical Association website. Retrieved October 28, 2019.

Featured News & Stories:What Does a Biostatistician Do?” Amy Roeder (June 17, 2014). T.H. Chan School of Public Health website - Harvard University. Retrieved October 28, 2019.




Scholarships for Becoming a Biostatistician

The 'Relevant University Majors' section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a biostatistician. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant University Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for this profession. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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