Government agencies and pharmaceutical companies depend on biostatisticians to study and calculate various health-related "cause and effect" relationships. Those who first determined that smoking can cause lung cancer were biostatisticians. In modern times, these professionals continue to study the effects of obesity on heart disease and cancer. They coordinate research studies, track relationships between personal habits, diets and health concerns, and calculate data with statistical software programs. If you want to be a biostatistician, you'll need a college education. You can expect to earn a salary averaging above $70,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
Biostatisticians earned average annual salaries of $75,000 as of 2013, according to the jobsite Simply Hired. To become a biostatistician, you need at least a master's degree in statistics or biostatistics, with some coursework in biology, physiology, chemistry and other sciences. You may need a Ph.D. in biostatistics if you work in a research or academic setting. Most employers also prefer at least two years of experience in a clinical or biopharmaceutical environment, testing the effects of drugs on humans or animals. Other essential requirements include analytical, critical thinking, organizational, problem-solving, math and computer skills.
Salary by Region
In 2013, average salaries for biostatisticians varied significantly within some U.S. regions. In the South, they earned the highest salaries, $118,000, in Washington, D.C., and the lowest, $59,000, in Mississippi, according to Simply Hired. Those in the Northeast made between $68,000 and $91,000 per year, respectively, in Maine and Massachusetts. If you worked in the West, you'd earn $60,000 to $85,000, with the lowest salary in Montana or highest in California or Alaska. In the Midwest, you'd make the most in Minnesota and the least in South Dakota -- $80,000 or $59,000, respectively.
A biostatistician's salary can also vary by industry. Biostatisticians are actually statisticians who study and calculate only health-related data. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics combines salary data for biostatisticians and statisticians. In 2012, statisticians earned some of the highest salaries, $97,170, working for the federal government. They also earned considerably high salaries with pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing companies -- $92,030 per year versus an average salary of $79,570 for all statisticians. You would likely earn a higher salary working for the federal government or a pharmaceutical company.
The BLS projects a 14 percent increase in jobs for statisticians -- including biostatisticians -- which is on par with the national average for all jobs. Corporations will create more biostatistician jobs to help make well-informed decisions in a competitive marketplace. The federal government and health care companies will need biostatisticians to improve people's quality of life as they age. Studies linking bad diets to Alzheimer's, heart disease and cancer are as important as ever for aging Americans -- and for reducing health care costs.