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A Career in Statistics: Beyond the Numbers

Gerald J. Hahn and Necip Doganaksoy
Publisher: 
John Wiley
Publication Date: 
2011
Number of Pages: 
340
Format: 
Paperback
Price: 
69.95
ISBN: 
9780470404416
Category: 
General
BLL Rating: 

The Basic Library List Committee suggests that undergraduate mathematics libraries consider this book for acquisition.

[Reviewed by
Robert W. Hayden
, on
03/16/2012
]

This book needs to be readily available to majors or potential majors at any college or university that grants degrees in mathematics or statistics. It is especially important wherever there is no statistics department. Even when there are statisticians on campus, they may have spent their entire career in academia. This book, written by two applied statisticians in industry, can supplement such academic experience.

To be a successful research mathematician one needs to be very, very good at a relatively narrow range of skills. To be a successful statistician one needs to be good enough at a very broad range of skills. When I wear my statistician hat, I find the skills I learned as parts of my degrees in mathematics are very helpful, but the skills I learned in mechanical engineering are even more helpful. One big difference is that statisticians usually work with others, as part of a team, or as consultants to a client. Publications in statistics, even elementary textboooks, usually have multiple authors. This is not the case in mathematics, and unfortunately too many statisticians have been denied tenure in mathematics departments just for doing their job. This book does an excellent job of outlining what a statistician does, which is quite different from what a mathematician does.

It is important to understand that students who are not cut out to be research mathematicians need not be less able but rather differently abled. This book can be a boon to students trying to match their own strengths and weaknesses to a possible career. It is clearly written with lots of concrete examples and should be accessible to its intended audience.

After an introductory chapter, the authors provide a chapter on statistics in business and industry and a chapter on statistics in government. Then there is a chapter on miscellaneous careers followed by one on the work environment of an applied statistician in these areas. There follow chapters on the characteristics that make a good statistician, appropriate education, and job-hunting. The next four chapters are career guidance for after one gets a degree. (If that seems a bit premature, it does give a reader some idea of what a career in statistics is actually like.) Then there is a chapter on careers in academia for those who wish to remain there. The only gap in the coverage is the value of a statistics minor for someone contemplating a career in a field that uses statistics. Still, I know of no other source that covers so much in one place, or offers such good advice.

At times there may be too much information, or at least too many topics with not enough depth. The book sometimes reads like a set of PowerPoint slides, and is more suited to browsing than reading cover to cover. (Perhaps that is how it will be used.) The book might benefit from an early chapter depicting a day in the life of a statistician in some detail to give the reader an overall impression before the mass of facts and tips. There could also be fewer footnotes in a book not really aimed at scholars. On the other hand, the many references can be very valuable to the reader who wishes to pursue a specific topic in greater depth.

All in all, an extremely valuable contribution to the lives of our students, with only a few very minor faults. The authors should be congratulated.


After a few years in industry, Robert W. Hayden (bob@statland.org) taught mathematics at colleges and universities for 32 years and statistics for 20 years. In 2005 he retired from full-time classroom work. He now teaches statistics online at statistics.com and does summer workshops for high school teachers of Advanced Placement Statistics. He contributed the chapter on evaluating introductory statistics textbooks to the MAA's Teaching Statistics.

PREFACE.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.

CHAPTER 1 PROLOGUE: A CAREER IN STATISTICS.

1.1 About This Chapter.

1.2 What is Statistics?

1.3 Who is a Statistician?

1.4 Who Employs Statisticians?

1.5 The Statistical Thought Process and What Makes it Special.

1.6 Many Skills Required.

1.7 Beyond the Workplace.

1.8 Some Downsides of a Career in Statistics.

1.9 The Excitement of a Career in Statistics.

1.10 Embarking on a Career in Statistics.

1.11 Accreditation.

1.12 Professional Societies.

1.13 A Preview.

1.14 Further Reading.

1.15 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

PART I THE WORK OF A STATISTICIAN

CHAPTER 2 WHAT STATISTICIANS DO IN BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY.

2.1 About This Chapter.

2.2 Manufactured Product Applications.

2.3 Service Business Applications.

2.4 Process Improvement.

2.5 Further Applications.

2.6 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 3 WHAT STATISTICIANS ENGAGED IN OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT STATISTICS DO.

3.1 About This Chapter.

3.2 The Scope of Official Statistics.

3.3 Examples of the Work.

3.4 Challenges of the Work.

3.5 Research Opportunities.

3.6 Some Major Employers in the U.S. Federal Government.

3.7 Required Credentials.

3.8 Integration of U.S. Government Statistical Activities.

3.9 Local Official Government Statistics Activities.

3.10 Government Statisticians Outside The United States.

3.11 Compensation and Other Considerations.

3.12 Sources of Further Information.

3.13 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 4 WHAT STATISTICIANS DO: SOME OTHER APPLICATION AREAS.

4.1 About This Chapter.

4.2 Regulatory Activities.

4.3 Health.

4.4 National Defense.

4.5 Other Scientific Research.

4.6 Social and Behavioral Sciences.

4.7 Teaching (in Nonacademic Settings).

4.8 Some Further Institutes for Research in the United States.

4.9 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 5 THE WORK ENVIRONMENT AND ON-THE-JOB CHALLENGES.

5.1 About This Chapter.

5.2 Receptiveness to Statistics and Statisticians.

5.3 Where do Statisticians Fit into the Organization?

5.4 Two Modes of Operation.

5.5 Grading Systems.

5.6 Globalization.

5.7 Hail to Our Managers!

5.8 Some Challenges.

5.9 Women in Statistics.

5.10 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

PART II PREPARING FOR A SUCCESSFUL CAREER IN STATISTICS.

CHAPTER 6 CHARACTERISTICS OF SUCCESSFUL STATISTICIANS.

6.1 About This Chapter.

6.2 Analytical and Technical Skills.

6.3 Communication and Interpersonal Skills.

6.4 Ability to Size Up Problems and See the "Big Picture".

6.5 Flexibility.

6.6 A Proactive Mindset.

6.7 Persistence.

6.8 A Realistic Attitude.

6.9 Enthusiasm and Appropriate Self-Confidence.

6.10 Ability to Prioritize, Manage Time, and Cope with Stress.

6.11 Team Skills.

6.12 Leadership Skills.

6.13 Ability to Properly Apply and Adapt Knowledge.

6.14 Passion for Lifelong Learning.

6.15 Further Reading.

6.16 As Others See It.

6.17 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 7 EDUCATION FOR SUCCESS.

7.1 About This Chapter.

7.2 The Statistics Advanced Placement Course and Other High School Programs.

7.3 Degrees in Statistics: The Numbers.

7.4 How Far To Go: Bachelor's, Master's, or Ph.D. Degree?

7.5 Selecting the Right School and Program.

7.6 Statistical Education: Setting the Foundations.

7.7 Coursework in Statistics.

7.8 Statistical Computing and Software.

7.9 Some Other Recommendations.

7.10 Internships and University Consulting.

7.11 Entering Statistics from Other Fields.

7.12 Further Resources.

7.13 Concluding Comment: The Limits of Formal Statistical Education.

7.14 As Others See It.

7.15 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 8 GETTING THE RIGHT JOB.

8.1 About This Chapter.

8.2 Defining Career Goals.

8.3 Identifying Opportunities.

8.4 Resume Writing.

8.5 The Job Interview.

8.6 Follow-Up.

8.7 Providing References.

8.8 Some Further Hints.

8.9 Assessing Job Offers.

8.10 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

PART III BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL CAREER AS A STATISTICIAN.

CHAPTER 9 ON-THE-JOB STRATEGIES: PROJECT INITIATION AND EXECUTION.

9.1 About This Chapter.

9.2 Project Initiation.

9.3 Project Execution.

9.4 As Others See It.

9.5 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 10 ON-THE-JOB STRATEGIES: COMMUNICATION, PUBLICIZING, AND ETHICS.

10.1 About This Chapter.

10.2 Communication, Communication, Communication.

10.3 Publicizing Statistics (And Statisticians).

10.4 Ethical Considerations.

10.5 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 11 GETTING GOOD DATA: A KEY CHALLENGE.

11.1 About This Chapter.

11.2 Designed Experiments.

11.3 Census and Random Sampling Studies of Human and Other Populations.

11.4 Systems Development Studies.

11.5 Observational Studies.

11.6 Hints for Getting the Right Data.

11.7 A Process for Data Gathering.

11.8 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 12 CAREER PATHS.

12.1 About This Chapter.

12.2 Some Roles for Applied Statisticians.

12.3 Other Major Roles to which Applied Statisticians Might Aspire.

12.4 Some Career Paths.

12.5 More on Statistical Leadership.

12.6 Contributions Beyond the Workplace.

12.7 Some More Career Examples.

12.8 Putting It All Together.

12.9 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

PART IV FURTHER PERSPECTIVES: CAREERS IN ACADEMIA AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT.

CHAPTER 13 CAREERS IN ACADEMIA.

13.1 About This Chapter.

13.2 What Statisticians in Academia do: An Overview.

13.3 Types of Positions.

13.4 Location within the Institution.

13.5 More on Tenure.

13.6 Life Beyond Tenure.

13.7 Teaching Challenges.

13.8 Research Challenges.

13.9 Consulting Challenges.

13.10 Administrative Service Challenges.

13.11 Professional Service Challenges.

13.12 More on the Academic Environment.

13.13 Training to Become an Academic Statistician.

13.14 Career Paths.

13.15 Downsides of a Career as an Academic Statistician.

13.16 Bright Sides of a Career as an Academic Statistician.

13.17 A Career as a Statistician in Academia: A Summary Comparison.

13.18 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

CHAPTER 14 MAINTAINING THE MOMENTUM.

14.1 About This Chapter.

14.2 Some Internet Resources.

14.3 Formal Education.

14.4 Technical and Professional Journals.

14.5 Technical Conferences.

14.6 Future Opportunity Areas.

14.7 Major Takeaways.

Discussion Questions.

REFERENCES.

INDEX.

Dummy View - NOT TO BE DELETED