Why Earn a Biostatistics Degree

 Biostatistics is a vital aspect of medicine and public health. Professionals who dedicate their work lives to biostatistics will be performing extremely important work that can save lives. Biostatisticians analyze data and information, process it and interpret the meanings of it as it pertains to public health.

Professionals who work in biostatistics have a unique set of skills regarding research study design and analyzing the work that is collected from the field. Many biostatisticians are experts in critical thinking, mathematics, and advanced problem solving.

A career in biostatistics is a good choice for a person who wants to have a positive effect on public health; maintaining good public health is critical to preventing diseases and illnesses among large numbers of people. This in turn leads to reduced health care costs.

Career Paths in Biostatistics

Biostatistician

A biostatistician uses advanced methods in statistics to analyze and collect data, and to help to solve real-world healthcare and public health problems to improve public health and to reduce health care costs.

Common duties of biostatisticians include these:

  • Determine which data is needed to address specific health care and public health questions
  • Determine the best statistical methods to collect needed health care and public health data
  • Design effective surveys, experiments and polls to collect needed healthcare data
  • Collect the data from the local community or train others to do it
  • Conduct a detailed statistical analysis of the data and then interpret it
  • Report conclusions to stakeholders, including medical professionals, public policy officials and consultants

Biostatisticians need to use advanced software to conduct public health data analysis. Statisticians must identify the trends and relationships in the data. They also need to perform tests to determine if the data is valid and account for any sampling errors.

Biostatisticians usually work in one of these areas:

  • Government: Many biostatisticians work in state or local public health offices, and may work on projects such as determining the amount of pesticides in the local water supply.
  • Healthcare: These professionals also may work in pharmaceutical companies or hospitals, in addition to public health offices. They can in the case of drug companies design new tests to see if a drug is successful in treating a certain disease.
  • Research and development: Design advanced experiments to test and develop new products in the drug or medical field.

Statisticians will see a very rapid 34% increase in job demand by 2024, and this growth should be just as brisk in the public health and healthcare space.

Community Health Workers and Health Educators

These public health professionals educate people about behaviors that promote health and wellness. They must develop new strategies that can improve the health of the community and of individuals. Community health workers and health educators provide a very important link between the community, public policy workers and healthcare professionals.

They develop advanced strategies to boost the health of both communities and individuals. They also must collect health care and public health data and discuss serious health problems with members of the community.

In a public health department, a health educator or community health worker will usually administer new public health programs on topics that may include immunizations, good nutrition, preparing for emergencies, and how to manage stress.

Job demand in this field will rise by 13% by 2024, which is faster than average.

Different Types of Biostatistics Degrees

Those interested in a biostatistics and public health career may earn one of the following degrees.

Bachelor’s Level Degree Options

For those who are just entering the field of public health and biostatistics, earning a bachelor’s in biostatistics is a likely choice. Those who wish to enter this field with an undergraduate degree will need to have an excellent foundation in mathematics.

You will likely want to take prerequisite classes in biology, math, ecology, chemistry, epidemiology and related life sciences. Also, undergraduate courses that focus largely on statistical packages, such as SPSS and EPILnfo, are very useful for those who want to work in biostatistics.

Some students may also opt to earn a bachelor’s degree in basic statistics, which will offer you the statistical knowledge that you need to succeed in the biostatistics field.

The Bachelor of Science in Applied Statistics with a Biostatistics Concentration is a possible choice at the University of Houston-Downtown. This program is designed to provide you with an excellent overview of statistics and how it applies to the biological sciences.

The program is fully accredited and is made for students who wish to work in the life and health sciences in statistics. The mathematics part of this program will prepare you to both develop and use analytical and problem-solving tools and to master advanced mathematics techniques that are required in the biostatistical field.

Master’s Level Degree Options

The most common degree choice in a biostatistics career is a master’s degree in public health (MPH) with a concentration in biostatistics. This advanced degree will train you in the following areas:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Biostatistical methods
  • Planning clinical studies
  • Conducting biostatistical analysis
  • Interpreting statistical data and composing reports

It is advised that you have a good working knowledge of a computer programming language, calculus and statistical computing programs to be admitted into an MPH program. We also recommend that you have a background in probability, numerical analysis genetics and biology.

A popular choice for an MPH program with a concentration in biostatistics is at the University of Nebraska Online. This program offers you the advanced quantitative and biostatistical tools and knowledge to enjoy a rewarding career in public health and biostatistics.

This program has been designed to fit the educational needs of public health professionals who currently work in public health and want to improve their skills and training. They will learn how to perform both statistical and quantitative evaluations of public health programs and research.

The biostatistics focus of this program will give you the tools that you need to do the following:

  • Define public health problems in different terms
  • Develop a new study design that will implement accurate and proper statistical analyses
  • Interpret and report all results of the study

Your required courses include the following:

  • Foundations of Public Health
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Services Administration
  • Public Health Environment and Society
  • Epidemiology in Public Health
  • Applied Research in Public Health
  • Biostatistical Methods I (Calculus-based)
  • Biostatistic Methods II
  • Categorical Data Analysis
  • Survival Data Analysis
  • Correlated Data Analysis

Accreditation

Being certain that you are taking a high quality public health and biostatistics program is of great importance to your future career. This is why you should verify that your bachelor’s or master’s program has been accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health or CEPH.

This is a highly respected and independent accreditation agency that is recognized by the Department of Education to perform accreditation of public health programs in the United States.

When you see that your program is accredited by the CEPH, you can be sure that you will be learning biostatistical tools and knowledge that will make you attractive to future employers.

Summary

A career in biostatistics will provide you with a good salary, strong job demand, and many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of countless people in your community, or in communities around the world.

Robert Sanchez
Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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