Career Paths for Statisticians Highlighted at first NISS Virtual Career Fair for NISS Affiliates

NISS Virtual Career Fair

A recording of the Virtual Career Fair sessions and presenters slides are first shared with NISS Affiliates.  At this time they are now available to the public!

If you are not an Affiliate and would like to attend these sessions like these live and be able to ask questions of the speakers, talk to the administration in your institution to Become an Affiliate today!


NISS Affiliates gathered together online to hear from representatives of five companies whose mission is central to statistics. Each representative was asked to respond to the following questions:

  1. What are the job opportunities for statisticians in your organization?
  2. Describe the range of skills statisticians need to succeed in your organization?
  3. What is the career path for statisticians in your organization?
  4. Is your organization currently hiring statisticians?
  5. What advice would you give to students based on your experience?

Here is a quick review of some of the remarks that were shared by our company representatives.

Among the many things that Tim Hesterberg, senior statistician at Google, mentioned he stipulated four main things that Google is looking for when hiring statisticians.  These are statistical knowledge (being able to understand and use statistical methods, intuition when it comes to the abilty to examine a data set and being able to get a sense of what is happening, the ability to engage in computation and programming, and last, but not least, the ability to communicate well with others.  His advice - get involved!

Dan Holder, an Executive Director of Biostatistics and Research Decision Sciences at Merck was the next representative.  Merck is a company of about 69, 000 employees based primarily in the northeast whose mission is to "discover, develop and provide innovative services and products that improve and save lives around the world."   Dan highlighted problem-solving, motivation/passion, cooperation/teamwork and communication skills as what companies like Merck are looking for.  Dan did remark that although it would be helpful to have some background in either biology or medicine, this is not required.

Yanling Zuo, who is a lead statistical designer of Minitab Statistical Software describes a different set of employeement opportunites at a company like Minitab.  There are positions that involve research and design of statistical methods, statistical trainers that support implementation by clients, technical support personnel as well as quality assurance engineers.  All of these are aimed at improving the statistical software serivces and products.

The career opportunties at SAS, shared by Fang Chen, the Director of the Advanced Statistical Methods Department at SAS were similar to those at Minitab however, there are also a a wide range of opportunities in consulting with clients in many different fields of study such as risk assessment, retail, banking, fraud and many others.  In addition, besides a technical track there is also a management track. His advice for prospective emplyees included flexibility, efficiency, the willingness to program as well as to communicate well with others on a team.

The final speaker was Steve Cohen, the Vice President of Statistical and Data Sciences at RTI International.  His unit is one subset of the company that is involved in designing and implementing social science studies using a variety of technological, analytical and methodological approaches. The division is involved in using data modeling, pyschometrics, small area estimation as well as nonprobability sampling to mention a few.  He also provided an overview of the type of projects that RTI is involved in and the analytics, predictive analytics or predictive modeling support they provide.

After comments from each of the representatives, the moderator opened up the floor in order to address the many questions that came in from NISS Affiliates attending.  Representatives weighed in on topics such as the differing perspectives and support for data scientists vs. statisticians, the importance of the ability to program, which career area should a Ph.D. graduate persue as well as many other topics.

A recording below of the Virtual Career Fair session is being shared with NISS Affiliates.  

The slides from the speakers at this Virtual Career Fair that we have thus far are as follows:

Tim Hesterberg (from Google) - "Tips for Working in Tech (and elsewhere)"

Dan Holder (from Merck) -  "Statistics at Merck: A Brief Overview"

Yanling Zuo (from Minitab) -  "Career Opportunities as a Statistician at Minitab"

Fang Chen (from SAS) -  "Analytics"

Friday, September 27, 2019 by Glenn Johnson