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How to Become a Sports Statistician

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Sports Statisticians Use Their Love for Sports and Numbers

Do you have a love for sports and numbers? A job as a sports statistician gives you an opportunity to put both those skills to use. The market for this role is small, but growing. With the right education and skills, you can cheer for your favorite team while making money. Plus, more part-time sports statistician positions are available than full-time, giving you the ability to still spend plenty of time with your kids.

Job Description

The two types of sports statisticians are academic sports statisticians and statistical recorders.

  • Academic Sports Statistician: Academic sports statisticians analyze data to look for trends. The type of data analyzed depends on the information a team is seeking. Statisticians pass this information to coaches, scouts or general managers, so they can make their teams better, either with the players currently on the team or by selecting new players.

    In baseball, the job might entail looking at data for each available player, so a coach can choose the nine best players to put on the field. A scout might use this information to find the best player for the position the team needs most. To do this, you might develop your own statistical model to analyze what each player can contribute to the team.
  • Statistical Recorder: A statistical recorder attends sporting events and records the data as it happens. In this role, you might also prepare final statistics for league records, serve as an official scorekeeper, enter computer data, prepare summary reports for the media, keep up to date on any changes in statistical scoring rules and help resolve any disputed calls.

Education Requirements

Most sports statisticians have at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, statistical analysis, economics or computer science. Many also have a master’s degree or even a doctorate.

In addition to your degree, one sports statistician recommends taking courses to build your technical skills, so you can extract and manipulate your data directly and quickly, rather than wait for someone else to do it for you. You should also learn at least one statistical software system as well as SQL or another query language, which allows you to work with databases.

Knowing everything there is to know about the sport you want to analyze is also critical to your success as a sports statistician. You should know the rules of the game, study how front offices operate, and find out how the sport recruits, develops and evaluates players.

The median annual wage for statisticians in general is $80,500, according to the United States Department of Labor. Most sports statisticians only work part-time, though, and hold another full-time job.

Industry

Since sports teams are across the country, where you work depends on which sport you’re looking to cover. Wherever you work, you’ll most likely work part-time and irregular hours since you’ll have to attend sporting events to record data. Academic sports statisticians may have slightly better hours.

Very few full-time jobs are available for sports statisticians, but some of the most common ones are with television networks, sports teams or sports data agencies. Many of these jobs require both outdoor work covering the game and indoor work analyzing your data.

Years of Experience

The field of sports statisticians is a difficult one to get into. One sports statistician recommends thinking about a question a general manager or coach would find interesting, answering that question with statistical data, and then getting that information to coaches or teams who might find it interesting.

Another sports statistician points out that the analysis work you do on your own is your resume. It shows what you’re capable of and that you are an expert in the particular sport in which you’re seeking employment.

A great way to break into the industry is volunteering with a team or finding an internship to gain experience. Once you gain a bit of experience, you should have more options, at least part-time, as a sports statistician.

Job Growth Trend

Job growth for statisticians is expected to grow much faster than average, but keep in mind this statistic pertains to general statisticians, not sports statisticians.

This doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for the field. One sports statistician expects that the need for this role will grow as more teams use statistical techniques to analyze more than just their players. This might include using data on their ticketing, marketing, stadium operations, personnel scheduling, food and beverage and merchandising data.