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Jobs in biostats


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Hi everyone,

 

I've recently applied to 3 MS Statistics programs and one of the things I am wondering is how transferable a MS Stats might be to biostat jobs.

 

I'm not sure how interested I am in Biostats but it does seem like a growing field and one where one can make a meaningful impact to the world (as opposed to just crunching numbers for some consulting gig.....nothing wrong with that tho). I plan on taking courses in it in my MS program to see if Biostats might really interest me.

 

I guess what I am wondering is, do biostat jobs only look for people with biostat/biomed degrees? Is there a salary "ceiling" if you don't have a PhD? Since I don't have experience doing biostat work (but plenty of it in polling research), would I be required to "restart" my career and have to take an low paying job?

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Let me put it this way: I have never seen a job opening in my life for a biostat position that wouldn't also consider someone with a stat degree. You could have a more difficult time if the job wanted someone with experience with (for example) survival analysis or longitudinal data analysis, which are two areas that are common in biostat curriculums but less common in stat curriculums. But I'm guessing very few (if any) jobs would trash your resume because it said stat rather than biostat. As for your second question, every job is different, but in general you will usually need a PhD to advance past a certain point. That said, the salary difference is usually less than you would think, and for most people it's questionable if the increased earning potential associated with a PhD is worth an extra 3-4 years out of the job market (particularly given that the job market for PhDs is typically much tighter).

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Let me put it this way: I have never seen a job opening in my life for a biostat position that wouldn't also consider someone with a stat degree. You could have a more difficult time if the job wanted someone with experience with (for example) survival analysis or longitudinal data analysis, which are two areas that are common in biostat curriculums but less common in stat curriculums. But I'm guessing very few (if any) jobs would trash your resume because it said stat rather than biostat. As for your second question, every job is different, but in general you will usually need a PhD to advance past a certain point. That said, the salary difference is usually less than you would think, and for most people it's questionable if the increased earning potential associated with a PhD is worth an extra 3-4 years out of the job market (particularly given that the job market for PhDs is typically much tighter).

Thanks for replying! I'm really glad you replied because I've seen your other posts and I know you're in the field.

 

My concern is that I live in Washington, DC, so the area is flooded with PhDs. It also seems like the job market for biostatisticians is very tight (not many jobs, lots of candidates). This makes me doubly concerned that if I wanted a job in the field, in the DC area, I'd have difficulty competing, especially since I don't have any experience doing actual biostatistical work. The big employers around here would be people like the FDA, NIH, and the like --- I can't move to Boston or someplace else to get work (spouse, house).

 

I also don't want to have to "restart" my career and start at the bottom because I don't have experience in the field. Do you think that would be likely if I wanted to do work in biostatistics? Do you think my previous work experience would not help me at all?

 

I really liked survival analysis (I have taken some graduate statistical courses), so I think I will study it further in school and try a biostat course as those cross into the statistical department.

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Thanks for replying! I'm really glad you replied because I've seen your other posts and I know you're in the field.

 

My concern is that I live in Washington, DC, so the area is flooded with PhDs. It also seems like the job market for biostatisticians is very tight (not many jobs, lots of candidates). This makes me doubly concerned that if I wanted a job in the field, in the DC area, I'd have difficulty competing, especially since I don't have any experience doing actual biostatistical work. The big employers around here would be people like the FDA, NIH, and the like --- I can't move to Boston or someplace else to get work (spouse, house).

 

I also don't want to have to "restart" my career and start at the bottom because I don't have experience in the field. Do you think that would be likely if I wanted to do work in biostatistics? Do you think my previous work experience would not help me at all?

 

I really liked survival analysis (I have taken some graduate statistical courses), so I think I will study it further in school and try a biostat course as those cross into the statistical department.

 

It's hard to know without knowing what programs have accepted you, but none of our MS students have any trouble finding jobs in their preferred market. I can think of one student who initially took a job in regulatory compliance because she couldn't find a job as a statistician in the smaller city where her husband worked, but they gave her a new job as a statistician within six months. If the programs where you are accepted are solid, my guess is that you'll have no trouble finding a job in DC.

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